Pregnancy: Everybody Has an Opinion

If I’ve learned one thing over the past 25 weeks, it is this: pregnancy is an unbelievable sociological experiment.

I knew that questions would come with the territory. But man, I didn’t realize how involved everyone would be in our pregnancy!

Going into the first trimester, I will admit that I was a bit reticent about a lot of my activity. I’ve never done this before and I had no freaking clue as to what was acceptable. Should I still run? Should I still hike? Are pull-ups acceptable? My heart rate just hit 172; did I just cause irreparable damage and cook my kid? I learned the hard way that asking for help or advice quickly ended up spiraling down a rabbit hole of lectures, anecdotes, and not-so-helpful “fun facts” that in no way answered my questions. If anything, I’m convinced the responses were meant to instill the fear of God {or whomever} within me.

But that’s okay, because I get it. Pregnancy is different for everyone.

By the start of my second trimester, I arrived at the realization that I was simply going to do me. You know, that catchy expression that says, “You do you and I’ll do me”? Yeah, that. The way I figure, my first trimester had gone exceptionally well with nary a negative symptom {no nausea, no morning sickness, no heartburn, no food aversions, etc.} Everything was checking out fine with my doc so I couldn’t be doing it all wrong….right?

Photo goal: to snag some belly-and-the-outdoor shots. But in the meantime, you get these gems from the archives of Will’s photo vault.

Truly, that realization gave me a lot more confidence in how to proceed. Am I a medical expert? Absolutely not {but thank goodness my two closest friends and my sister are!} But I re-developed trust and faith in my own abilities to make the best decision for both me and our unborn child. That’s when I also noticed one glaring observation:

Everybody has an opinion.

There’s a trick to this, though, and that is that people generally  mean well. For example:

I was at CrossFit a week ago, trying to get my workout in for the day. For obvious reasons, I’ve long since modified the workouts and scaled the intensity based on my capabilities on any given day. Largely, I’ve been heading to the gym on my own time to do my own workout so that I don’t interrupt the group classes with all my accommodations. This was one such day.

I don’t specifically remember the workout, but it called for 800 meter repeats. Of course, the rest of the gym members were sprinting them but I was doing more of a jog-waddle-walk combination! Thankfully, running still feels comfortable with my belly, although I don’t typically run more than 1/2 mile at a time before needing to walk {or pee}. In this instance, I was opting to walk the tougher uphill sections and jog the flat and/or downhill sections. You do what you can, right?

The Story

An elderly construction worker was out there, handling a project, and as I walked uphill by him, he called out to me and said, “Good for you! I support what you’re doing.”

I smiled and nodded, because that’s what you do when someone nice says something to you. But as I kept walking up the hill, I replayed his comment in my head. I support what you are doing? What does that even mean? Are you supporting what all of the gym athletes are doing or just me because you see my belly?

I mulled it over till I hit the turnaround point and then began my slow jog back to the gym. As I passed him this time, now jogging, he called out a second time: “Wow, you’re running too? That’s going to be a healthy boy in there. I wouldn’t want to mess with you!”

{Let’s ignore the fact that he jumped to a very large and unverified conclusion in assuming we are having a boy, but I digress. Another topic for another day, as they say.}

Again, I smiled, nodded, and said, “That’s the hope!” before continuing upon my waddling way. By the time I got back in the gym, I was a unique blend of perplexed, irritated, indignant, and ashamed of myself.

Perplexed: Why did this man feel the need to address me constantly? Does he offer his two cents to everyone or just me?

Indignant: Because I’m pregnant, do I not deserve to get my workout in without a bunch of hollering from bystanders?

Irritated: Can I please just go about my life without the opinions of strangers?

Ashamed: He was only trying to be nice; am I being an ass?

Honestly, I still don’t know where I stand on that last question, but I do know that it wasn’t a lone experience. That has been my single main takeaway from my 25 weeks of pregnancy so far: everybody has an opinion. And if you are pregnant, you will hear it because they are doing it for your own good.

{Or so they think.}

Want to fly in an airplane at 26 weeks with your doctor’s permission? Someone will still tell you a story about that time a friend did it and went into labor.

I fly next week.

Want to walk/jog a 10k with your husband?

Prepare for supportive-yet-amazed comments from everyone you see. I daresay you’ll receive more support than the runners who actually win the 10k!

Want to lift a barbell at the gym with light-moderate weight {for your skill and experience level}?

Oh, hell no. You’ll hear about it from many people!

 

So let me have it: am I out of line? Spot on? Somewhere in the middle? These are just observations based on my experiences thus far; I’d love to hear what others have noticed!

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23 Comments

  • Reply Andrea June 22, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Oh man. I have to say, one of the biggest reasons I’ve been putting off kids includes this. I’m a very private person and the idea of people constantly wanting to intrude, well meaning or not, with touching, advice, and way-too-personal stories sounds like a nightmare. I think I’d be in the same boat.

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Although I certainly don’t have a kiddo on the outside yet (so to speak), I can say with 100% confidence that it will be worth it 🙂 Don’t let the weirdness deter you if that is what you want!

  • Reply Neja June 23, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Reading your post totally brought back memories of my first pregnancy when suddenly my belly turned from intimate to public overnight. Totally irritating, I agree!!! Everyone had an opinion, everyone needed to touch it (sometimes even when I was leisurely passing by they would stretch out their hand to touch my belly – WHYYYYY!???). Well, but then the baby came, and you know what? The attention suddenly turned from me to the little one and that actually felt good being a proud mom. The opinions stayed, though, but I’ve learned to ignore them 😉 Good luck to you!

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Yup! I was telling my husband that; I’ve had rogue people at the grocery store reach out to touch my belly. It’s like a magnet!

  • Reply Melissa June 23, 2017 at 4:54 am

    I hear ya. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I ran up until I gave birth! However, a few co-workers would comment about it. Not necessarily in a negative tone but I got the hint that they were implying that it seemed a bit much and it wasn’t normal for runners to continue running through pregnancy (mind you, they are not the running type or exercise type either). I was even moving a box one day in my office and I got scolded to put it down and let someone else do it. It weighed 10 lbs. I think I am good. We’ve had these bodies our whole lives. While pregnancy obviously brings with it MANY changes to your body, YOU still know your BODY BEST. Even your doctor doesn’t know. They may give recommendations, but take it in stride and like you said, DO YOU. Keep on doing you, you are doing great!

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Hahah yeah, a few of the women I coach at the CrossFit gym have had brief moments of panic when I pick up their barbell to demonstrate something 🙂 I certainly am not trying to crank #110 overhead, but I’ve got a 35# bar without any problems. And I truly do appreciate that it comes from a place of love and concern…it’s just been interesting!

  • Reply Art June 23, 2017 at 6:37 am

    When my wife was pregnant, I got used to trying to mirror her emotions on these discussions. But, I have to say, the irritated part of you would strike a true chord with me…you really should be able to go about your day without someone piping up an opinion. According to my wife, it gets worse as you get bigger, but you build up a resistance to it over the 40 weeks. (and, funnily enough, she has occasionally expressed that she misses being pregnant because of all the friendliness she received)

    Still, I don’t know how you ladies handle yourselves with as much grace as you do.

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

      All of my friends have said the same thing about missing pregnancy. It’s good to keep in mind since it really is such a fleeting time and who knows if I’ll ever do it again.

  • Reply Efo June 23, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I’m right there with you – being 20 weeks preggo, running/hiking/backpacking – and honestly, girl, who cares? When I get feedback (unsolicited or not, friendly or not, kind or criticism), I give myself roughly 60 seconds to let it affect me, and then I force myself to move on. I’m like you in that I deeeeefinitely read into things (more than I should), but I’ve found my favorite part of being a “grown up” (lol) is giving absolutely 0 effs about what other people think. It’s liberating. I know you feel me so I’m just preaching to the choir. PS. So jealous of your pain-free running. I’ve entered the pain cave and need to find a belly band, stat!

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 9:05 am

      I’m considering a belly band too but for me, the tougher part is having to pee all the damn time. I can’t run 1/2 mile without having to find a bathroom so I’ve resorted to running 1/2 mile loops around the neighborhood. Darn kid is tap dancing on my bladder! 🙂

      And to your point: I don’t care, but it has been an interesting observation. I never realized that having a bump on your belly would draw such a crowd and for someone who is inherently an introvert, it can make me a touch uncomfortable! So glad to hear that things are going well for you, too!!

  • Reply Michelle Kobzik June 23, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    “Oh just you wait”… that was my favourite.

    Iceclimbing pregnant was definitely frowned upon by everyone except other ice climbers and my midwife.

    Being told our life was over and would never be the same was another fun one.

    I loved being pregnant and I love being a mother but I absolutely hated the pregnancy comments followed by the how to parent my kid comments….

    So my comment to you will be just you wait…

    To experience a love you never knew existed

    AND

    To have SO MUCH FUN!!

    It really is such a miracle that we can grow babies. Keep enjoying it and don’t let anyone pop your bubble 😚

    • Reply Heather June 24, 2017 at 9:03 am

      THIS ONE!: “Just you wait!” I have heard that so many times! When I was in my first trimester, everyone would ask how I was feeling and when I said that thankfully, I was doing great, everyone would use that immortal line. I was like, what? Do you wish I was feeling worse just…..because?!

      Silver lining is that it certainly doesn’t pop my bubble; I’m so thankful that it has been as easy as it has been (thus far) and I can’t wait to meet the new member of our family 🙂

  • Reply Beth June 24, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Caveat: Not pregnant, never been pregnant, never plan to be.

    I think people just suck at talking to people in life transition. Having a baby? Getting married? Buying a house? People have THOUGHTS based on their experiences. Unfortunately pregnancy (and the resulting children) are really visible so it’s hard to retreat. In general, human beings are really myopic and say things like “Just you wait” because that thing definitely happened to them and somehow felt a bit inevitable. (I also think some of us feel like we have slightly more control over our lives…)

  • Reply Eryn June 24, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I rode my road bike and downhill skied until the day I gave birth. I certainly got comments and like you, they irritated the crap out of me.

  • Reply Alli June 25, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    When my running buddy was pregnant she found the book “Active Woman’s Guide to Pregnancy” by Aneema Groenou to be helpful. That one has some good guidelines for what is safe to do when.

    My friend ran with me at the same intensity as before until she was about 7 months along. After that she said running got uncomfortable so we swam laps instead.

    For what it’s worth most comments annoy me. Overly personal comments annoy me even more but I try to tell myself that people are just trying to be nice and make a connection. I hope what they mean is probably more “I’m excited for you!” or “Your kid is lucky to be part of an active family!” but they just aren’t using the right words and it comes off judging.

    Good luck!

  • Reply High Five Friday – In Makati June 30, 2017 at 12:09 am

    […] Pregnancy: Everybody Has an Opinion – Should you’ve ever been pregnant (and even making an attempt to get pregnant), what number of items of recommendation did you obtain?  Of these, what number of truly had been good?  Everybody has an opinion of what you “ought to” be doing.  Even males.  The subsequent time you might have recommendation or a horror story to share with a pregnant lady, keep in mind – you do you. […]

  • Reply High Five Friday -Happy Fit Mama June 30, 2017 at 3:06 am

    […] Pregnancy: Everybody Has an Opinion – If you’ve ever been pregnant (or even trying to get pregnant), how many pieces of advice did you receive?  Of those, how many actually were good?  Everyone has an opinion of what you “should” be doing.  Even men.  The next time you have advice or a horror story to share with a pregnant woman, remember – you do you. […]

  • Reply High Five Friday -Happy Fit Mama – Upbeat Lifestyle Trends July 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    […] Pregnancy: Everybody Has an Opinion – If you’ve ever been pregnant (or even trying to get pregnant), how many pieces of advice did you receive?  Of those, how many actually were good?  Everyone has an opinion of what you “should” be doing.  Even men.  The next time you have advice or a horror story to share with a pregnant woman, remember – you do you. […]

  • Reply Lana July 12, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Great article! I love reading about all those who spend their time travelling from place to place with no base. I love hearing their stories and how they go about full-time travelling, but I know that I couldn’t do it.Purposeful travel is definitely my favourite way to explore! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  • Reply Paige July 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Ahahaha I love this.

    First, WHY the incessant need for others to tell their birthing/pregnant/infant horror stories?! As if I don’t have enough anxiety about it on my own.

    Secondly, this week — on the very same day from three separate people — I was told I must feel like I look like a whale, that I now look “super pregnant,” and then the real zinger “you must have a tiny baby in there!” when I answered them that I was 27 weeks. Nope, baby’s measuring right on target, and you can take your comments and shove them 🙂

  • Reply megan July 23, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    when i was pregnant, i kept running and i continued to work out at red rocks until like, week 37 or something (and only stopped because i found out my baby was breech and in order to try to turn him, the chiropractor suggested maybe i don’t do those workouts anymore… not that i think working out made my baby breech… but anyway…) i felt the wide range of people’s opinions and, of course, i let my midwives know exactly what i was doing just to make sure it was ok. generally, their advice was that i can keep doing what i was doing before but i shouldn’t start anything new. so i would try to go three days in a row working out and then have one day off and i’d alternate running, red rocks, and swimming – whatever i felt up to. anyway, regardless of your workout regimen, you’re right – being pregnant opens you up to public opinion. people’s reactions (to my working out while pregnant and also just existing while pregnant) ranged the gamut. most people were supportive but yeah, you get those weird opinions sometimes. for those, i wish i had gotten these handy cards to distribute: https://www.papersource.com/item/Stop-Talking-Cards/440446.html

    enjoy your workouts now, though! once the baby is born it is tough – especially if you’re breast-feeding/pumping – to find the time to work out. 9it sounds so crazy but it’s true!) we are just coming up on a year soon and i am looking forward to letting go of all of that and possibly resuming my early morning runs again! (:

  • Reply Alyssa July 24, 2017 at 6:36 am

    I’ve been working on my own post not exactly about this but about how if you are seen working out while visibly pregnant, you are somehow superior for it. Having had two very different pregnancies, the first, like yours, no symptoms, worked out the morning I went in to labor, and then a second where I had typical symptoms, stopped running early-ish when it caused too many contractions for my comfort, didn’t work out at all much, etc, I truly know it’s just luck so let’s just stop with the comments.

    My own personal pet peeves are that implying that pregnant exercise will somehow lead to an easier labor and delivery. In that first pregnancy when I was on the treadmill not an hour before contractions started, I had an emergency c-section, because THE BABY, not exercise, runs labor and delivery. I have had so many people ask me why I didn’t want to try for a natural labor since I’d run marathons. Like, what? There’s no running in labor (hopefully lol). It’s not related.

    My most hated unsolicited comment is on the sex of the baby and I’m already cringing at the thoughts of hopefully one day being visibly pregnant with two boys in tow. Everyone had to hope it’s a girl! Because god forbid you have two of the same sex! And then when it was, gasp, a boy, oh my, what a handful! Because I’m sure a boy and a girl under the age of 2 is a piece of cake? Super duper easy! Sorry, hot button issue for me.

    Anyway, I’m sure you know the comments only get worse after baby, but I’m getting better at letting them roll off my back (3 years later).

  • Reply Kari B. July 26, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Sadly, this is just a reality of being pregnant. I was always curious as to the reason but people perceive pregnancy as weakness almost. If you do anything to counter that weakness mindset THEY have then you are either one of two things, awesome or insane and going to kill your unborn child. I also never understood the inherent need of complete strangers coming up to touch my belly…WTF lady?!
    The CrossFit thing was very new to people when I was preggo with Bryce. I did what I wanted and what I felt was safe for me and everything turned out fine. I got many comments like yours, “man, that kid is going to come out climbing ropes!” (whatever that means). But I also got many negative comments…intrusive comments. That is why I took my preggo shots at the gym with Jax. It meant something to me to share that pregnancy is power and strength and beauty…not weakness. You do you! <3

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