Why the hate? That’s what I want to know. Misogyny is alive and well and living in male-oriented books about pregnancy. Take a look at these excerpts:
•"There are many reasons to resent your wife when she’s pregnant.”
•"[Y]our wife should be treated like any other savage creature ready to attack.”
•"Instead of acting like a temptress, she’ll act more like a toddler. Once you start thinking of your wife as a baby, not a broad, you’ll notice other similarities as well.”
•"[T]hink of pregnancy as a nine-month stint at a prisoner-of-war camp . . .”
•"Sure, living with a pregnant woman can’t kill you, but it sure can take the fun out of living.”
Boy. No wonder so many men bail out just after they’ve pulled out. We are fed the line that pregnant women are petulant dictators, and that pregnancy is an aggravation to be endured, if not avoided altogether. And the rest of our lives is supposed to be even worse. Check out these hints regarding the death sentence that awaits me once my child is born:
•"You may as well get practice giving up things and activities you enjoy now, because once your baby takes its first breath, it’ll happen on an hourly basis.”
•"Right now, the baby is just a list of chores that you need to get done.”
•"From here on in, your life is full of ‘no mores.’”
No, I don’t think anyone should soft-sell parenthood. I’m not expecting it to be cakewalk, nor do I believe that all men should instantly become touchy-feely and introspective the second their children are born. But you don’t hear many women saying this kind of garbage, yet it’s almost expected of men. Why is that?
* * *
There’s no getting around it: I officially like the class. Whatever I said a few months back I take it back. I don’t even mind missing Sunday football games so much anymore.
We’ve become fast friends with the other couples in the Bradley class. Even the big lug of a guy we’ve dubbed Mr. Incredible, who seems to know everything there is to know about midwifery and bags of waters and placenta previa, has begun to grow on us. No one bothers with small talk—we go straight to swollen breasts and bowel movements. I don’t know these people’s last names, their jobs, or where they live, but I know that Rachel is urinating six times a night and Mary Jo was not breastfed as a child. I know enough about their vaginas to write a book. A really sick book.
* * *
I’m on the el right now, where I scored a prime seat. It’s the one-seater at the end of the car where you’re assured that you won’t have to touch anyone or even move. The train is filling up, and I’m comfortably plugged into my iPod and laptop, enjoying my ride downtown.
Wait a minute. We just passed the Wilson stop, where a mass of people got on, among them a very pregnant woman. My heart is beating out of my chest. You may recall: Two months ago, I blew it with the pregnant woman on the bus; forgot to give her my seat. The guilt still nags at me. I’ve been waiting for this moment for 10 weeks. I’m getting up as soon as I finish typing this sentence.
I’m safely at work now, but the psychic wound is just taking shape. What happened was: I made a big show of getting out of my seat and asked the pregnant woman if she wanted to sit down. I might have made an exaggerated gesture with my hand, I’m not sure.
She smiled. “No, thanks. I’m fine.” She opened up her newspaper with one hand, and held onto the pole with the other.
I just stood there. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m great, really. Thank you, though, that’s really nice of you.”
“Please,” I said. “Take my seat.”
She lowered her newspaper, looked at me, and glanced at my seat. “OK. I think I will sit down.”
With that, she waddled over, plopped herself awkwardly into my seat and went back to her paper. I felt a weight lifting from my shoulders. But she was antsy—changing positions, arching her back, rolling her shoulders—and her butt spilled over both sides of the tiny seat, especially when she kept trying in vain to reach an itch on her lower back. She looked miserable.
Looking back now, the truth is clear: I just browbeat a pregnant woman into taking a seat that her body didn’t want. I may have to start walking to work.