Pregnancy. Does it really make a difference to what you’re capable of? I’ve had a number of entertaining conversations lately which reveal the wide barometer of opinion out there …
If there’s two things Dutch people love, it’s being pragmatic problem solvers and saving money. They find financial waste upsetting, even when they’re the beneficiary.
This explains my conversation with a taxi driver in Amsterdam last night. My husband and I were about to cycle home from dinner in town when he discovered his bike had a puncture. He proposed he take my bike, put me in a taxi and he’ll worry about the puncture in the morning. At midnight and 30 weeks pregnant, I was more than happy with this.
Finding a free taxi waiting nearby, I got in and my husband cycled off. As we started towards home, I could see the driver looking thoughtfully at me in his rear view mirror, wondering why I was in his car solo.
“My husband’s bike has a puncture,” I explained.
“But couldn’t you ride on the back?” he countered, clearly unsure why I was wasting my money on him.
“I’m 7 months pregnant,” I replied. Realising this had made no impact on him I added: “I think I’d be a bit wobbly on the back.”
He thought for another street or so.
“But you could have ridden the bike and he could have gone on the back!” he eventually exclaimed with delight.
My husband is 6 foot with a rugby player’s build. I am 5 foot 4 with a slim build (besides the bowling ball stuck to my belly). But I got the impression he’d think less of me for bringing up these facts.
“Yes. I suppose I could have,” I conceded.
“Aha! Well. You’ll think of that next time then won’t you,” he finished, before spending the rest of the journey in happy silence.
This conversation also says a lot about the Dutch attitude to pregnancy. Women here are made of sturdy stuff. They’re immensely proud to be able to carry on their day to day living almost exactly as if they weren’t having a baby.
Not everyone thinks the same. At one stage, this included my husband. On holiday, we were running late for a spa booking. As I drove us to the front entrance I noticed a perfect parking spot right by the door. On closer inspection, I carried on driving.
“What was wrong with that one?” he asked.
“It was a disabled spot,” I replied.
He looked at me for a moment. “But that’s ok,” he said. “You’re pregnant.”
I gave him a withering look and deliberately drove to the furthest spot possible to prove a point. Of course, that meant we were even later.
From a survey of one, UK Doctors agree with the Dutch. A newly pregnant friend was sharing some minor niggle with her British GP. The response:
“What you have to remember is it’s not an illness and it’s not a disease. You’re just pregnant.”
Her husband now loves to quote this back to her at every opportunity.
If the conclusion is that pregnant women, to some degree, are just as capable as non-pregnant women there’s always one that takes it too far / puts everyone else to shame. US Olympic athlete Alysia Montano is making headlines for competing in the 800m at the track and field championships while 34 weeks pregnant.
Don’t get me wrong. Absolutely good for her, she’s obviously extremely fit and advised medically to go ahead. But dammit, I hope no-one tries telling me that if she can still compete in top-level athletics at 34 weeks then I should stop having mid-day naps at the weekend and saying the kitchen’s too far to make my own cup of tea. Pesky overachievers.
What’s your views? Should pregnancy create immediate limitations or, as far as good health allows, should you soldier on as before?