A Pregnant Woman’s Body Is Not Her Own
Since I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had doctors’ appointments every month. Plus half a dozen trips to the lab to have blood drawn. Plus trips to the hospital where I’ll deliver, because that’s where the ultrasounds happen. I’m in my third trimester now, so my doctors’ appointments are every two weeks. In the final four weeks, I’ll have to go every week, and since at age 37 I’m what’s considered a “geriatric” mother, I’ll likely have more frequent ultrasounds as well.
This is my third child in five years. I’ve had a dozen strangers’ hands inside my cervix (though, mercifully, not all at the same time). I’ve given birth vaginally and via C-section, had a specialist wield a cervical ultrasound wand like a vaginal joystick while two other doctors and a tech stood around and commented on what they saw, and had my water break in the middle of a cervical check, after which I grinned and bore it by alternating apologizing with “lol ain’t life strange” quips as I gushed onto the floor and the nurses ran in with paper towels. I’ve worn adult diapers and popped my breasts out in public so my child could feast.
And I’ve been weighed, over and over and over again. For me, that is truly the worst part. Motherhood means losing autonomy over your body — your fetal offspring sucks up all the good stuff inside you so it can, you know, make a brain or whatever, and meanwhile your teeth weaken and your hair turns gray and you get skin tags and you suddenly start calling yourself “cow nips,” which makes you and your husband laugh but is also an alarmingly accurate nickname for your massive areolae and nipples. Then the baby is born, and your body has to heal from the insane trauma it just went through after a whole human tore through it in a smash-and-grab that others choose to call a miracle of life. And if you choose, you have to manufacture liquid gold that you’ll then shoot out of your cow nips and into your shrieking child, which can lead to all sorts of malnourishment in the mother if she isn’t careful. Your teeth can fall out. Your skin turns sallow. You forget what you just walked into this room for. Your boobs expand and contract like flesh balloons. Your face is a mask of exhaustion and bewilderment. And still, you are weighed.