A few days ago I was hanging out with some neighborhood moms while our kids played together. The sun was shining, kids were shrieking with playful joy, moms were chatting… it was suburban bliss. One of the young girls handed my son the handle of a jump rope in an attempt to show him how to swing it. He’s 21 months old, so he wasn’t quite following her lead. I walked over and started playing with them by jumping over the rope held between them. Mind you, the rope was held about 3 inches from the ground. One of the grown-ups ran over to me and cried out, “Oh my gosh! Don’t do that! That’s dangerous for you to do! Oh my gosh!” Or, something to that effect. Clearly, I was putting my life, and my unborn’s life, in danger by hopping a few inches off the ground. I was bewildered by her reaction.
It got me thinking about our often misguided impression of pregnant women in general. I’ve heard of women who fear announcing a pregnancy at work because they were up for a promotion or big project and didn’t want to be overlooked due to their “condition.” The famous model Lara Stone was fired from a photo shoot soon after the company found out she was pregnant (and she was only in her 1st trimester!). We see images of pregnant women who look like they “swallowed a grape” or are “all belly” and that is held up as the ideal. I’ve even had people call after me while running “careful!” An unnamed family member shouted at the TV “Go home and take care of your baby!” when he watched a pregnant weatherwoman talk about that week’s predictions on the news. Um, really?
It wasn’t always like this. I recently read an article about Stone Age sculptures. Out of the hundreds known to us now, only five are male figures. Five! Many of the hundreds intact are of pregnant women. They are portrayed with large, round bodies, powerful limbs and oversized feminine features. The women portrayed are unapologetically big and strong. The entire human race is attributed to women’s strength. If pregnant women really were as fragile as we perceive them to be, our species wouldn’t have made it this far!
I don’t think pregnant women are fragile. I think they are the strongest of the strong. They are powerful. They create babies while also going about their normal business at work and at home. They are mentally strong as well. A pregnant woman’s mind is split between awareness of the baby within and focus on the regular rigors of life. Pregnant women are the ultimate body builders.
I’m not fragile, I’m pregnant. I’m strong. I’m powerful. I’m a 24/7 baby-making machine. My body is capable, though I know and respect my limits. And even when I’m lazily sitting on the couch eating ice cream, I’m still hard at work building a human.