I dragged my six-month pregnant body to a Soul Cycle class the other day, squeezed my big belly right into a Lululemon tank top, and got my chubbier than normal ass on that bicycle seat. And even though I skipped the signature stomach crunches and turned the dial right more often than I turned it left, I still felt like a goddamned champion.
Last month I took great pride in the fact that I managed to complete all of my work assignments, cook dinner for my husband and get a pedicure in a single day. Then, of course, Beyoncé performed at the Grammys.
I know I shouldn't compare myself to other pregnant women, but come on! Beyonce makes me feel like a very lazy pregnant person.
It's not like I'm not busy. It's just that I'm not Beyoncé busy. Washing my hair, taking a few conference calls, writing a coherent story, being nice to my co-workers, and remembering to take my prenatal vitamins is often the extent of what my exhausted pregnant body can do on a very good day. I am more tired than I was before I got pregnant. I forget half the things people tell me. Shaving my legs in the shower no longer requires just an elaborate mixture of yoga and balance, it requires a small plastic stool and sometimes my husband needs to come into the bathroom to help me stand back up. I can hardly get through an episode of This is Us without twice bursting into tears and promptly falling asleep.
Getting out of pajamas can even be a slog. Much less into outfits like this:
I have already hidden all of my heels in the back of my closet, opting instead for flats and cute sneakers. Who knows when I'll wear them again?
It's not just Beyoncé who seriously ups the ante for pregnancy endurance and style. Instagram offers plenty for a pregnant woman to live up to. It's simultaneously wonderful and intimidating. I love seeing pregnant women hiking and kayaking. My pregnant friends and the pregnant strangers I stalk on social media are running half-marathons and launching new companies and raising venture capital well into their third trimesters, some of them literally as they're going into labor. We're living in a time of the power pregnant lady, and that is awesome!
I love that we're finally embracing the notion that pregnant women can do anything they set their minds to. The truth is that we can. This new image of the empowered pregnant lady is liberating and invigorating. But it can also be exhausting.
The problem with social media and media reports about Beyoncé is that we only have half the story. We don't know what occurred before or after a gorgeous Instagram or whether Beyoncé stayed in bed for 4 days and then performed at the Grammys (I bet she didn't). I'm even guilty of it myself. I recently posted photos of myself hiking the first section of the rugged Na Pali coast on my Hawaiian babymoon. I did not post a photograph of myself promptly vomiting afterwards or soaking my swollen feet in the ocean for an hour. I laid in bed and read a novel for the entire next day.
When we only have half the story, it can lead to feelings of guilt about not accomplishing enough during our own pregnancies.
I take solace in the fact that while pregnancy and motherhood is hard for all women, regardless of class or wealth, it's still easier for celebrities and the very, very wealthy, who are able to pay to outsource not only help but self-care services. Carrying twins is never easy. But carrying twins when you are Beyoncé might be a little bit easier.
For some of us, pregnancy needs to be a time to cut yourself a damn break, to say maybe I can't do it all right now and that's OK. Or maybe even, I don't want to do it all right now. Some of us need to slow down in order to just get ready to take on motherhood, another time in our lives that will be more marathon than sprint.
I'm going to start using the hashtags #PregoNap and #SleepyPregnantLady to embrace and glorify just a little bit of the rest we all need during this weird (and of course wonderfully rewarding) time for our bodies.
We don't need to be Beyoncé every day, or even half of Beyoncé. Sometimes it is OK to just be the pregnant lady in the pajamas who forgot to wash her hair.
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