I can’t figure out what should make me so upset, the fact that a teacher was giving out her personal opinion on a subject matter or the fact that her personal opinion was making a very false generalization about all pregnant women.
Let’s back up for a minute though shall we?
Bebe was doing dishes yesterday evening and while we were in the kitchen she started telling me about her week at school. She had been learning about “The Miracle of Life” in her 7th grade health class and she mentioned that after the movie was over, her teacher had a personal rant that she shared with the kids.
I’m paraphrasing here but the teacher has an issue with “lazy pregnant women”; meaning that they have other people do everything for them because they don’t want to. These women, “shouldn’t expect people to do things for them because they’re just pregnant and not sick.”
Wow. Um. Okay. Deep breath mom.
But my deep breath came out in ragged breaths sputtering profanities till I was red all over.
I looked at my daughter and told her as calmly as I could that her teacher was full of shit. A lot of shit. And that what she said to them was a biased, uninformed, and insulting opinion that had no place in the classroom.
Dumbfounded Bebe looked at me.
When I got so upset with what the teacher had said, Bebe told me that it was nothing to worry about; it’s not like anyone was really listening to the teacher.
But my daughter was listening. If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have told me what the teacher said. And that disturbs me most of all. What kind of information are those kids storing and what impact will her words have on how they treat themselves or their partners when they start a family?
“Was I lazy when I was pregnant with Peanut?” I asked. Madder than a cat dropped in a rain bucket, I wanted to make sure that none of the garbage the teacher spewed had an impact on my girl.
“No,” she said quietly. “You were really sick. You could barely stay awake to take care of us. I had to learn how to do dishes and stand on the stool to reach the sink”. I let the air out of my body and watched the lightbulb go on in her head. “Your pacemaker stopped working. It was broken. You weren’t lazy.”
And there we have it; out of the mouths of babes (or teen girls). Before I was pregnant with my youngest, I’d had a pacemaker battery replacement at the beginning of that year but my doctor (whom I should have sued) didn’t check the lead wires to the pacemaker and between five months of the surgery and getting pregnant, the battery had died. The leads were bad and drained the brand new battery. I worked full time up until the month before my due date, under constant cardiac and obstetric care. I had little appetite, I slept every extra moment I could find because I had no energy to do anything more physical than what was absolutely necessary and I wish I could say that I felt better after pregnancy but I didn’t because we had to wait six months post-partum before the doctors would go in and replace the leads and battery.
Every one of my pregnancies were a strain on my body physically because while I will tell you that my heart is an amazing champion, pregnancy on a person like me is tiring, draining, and physically hard. The doctors told me NOT to overexert myself for a reason. They said this with the first three pregnancies; do you have any idea what they were telling me while I was pregnant with Peanut? It was the only time I was truly scared for myself and worried about whether or not my heart would just quit while I was in labor. And there was no way we could ever predict that I would get that sick during a pregnancy.
But if you would ask my daughter’s teacher, she would likely tell you that that because I didn’t look sick (though friends and family disagree – I did look sick), I was just being lazy and making my family pick up the slack for my laziness.
Sadly she would probably say the same about many of the women bloggers that I know. I was still very upset and shaken that a teacher would allow her personal, misguided and misinformed opinion into the classroom so I did what any upset blogger would do, I asked Facebook – and Facebook responded with their own stories:
Deidre – I have bone deformitites that were only discovered about three years ago. Turns out from the waist down my bones and the connective junctions of all the muscle and tendon are defective. Guess what it made me very much in pain whilst preggers and NO ONE knew.
Lisa – I was on bedrest at 26 weeks with both my kids but I looked perfectly fine.
Claire – “I lost one of the twins I was pregnant with. Madelyn survived because of bed rest and hospital intervention. Marley, unfortunately, did not make it. I was in labor for 6 weeks and in the hospital. 18 months later I miscarried while on bed rest with baby number 4. Now I am 23 weeks pregnant with baby number 5 and on bed rest again. I’ve lost 35 pounds this pregnancy. It’s not laziness, its dedication to bringing a human being into the world as safely as possible.”
Kelby – “I had “morning sickness” around the clock both of entire pregnancies plus bed rest for 2.5 months with the twins. I have definitely felt better MANY times I was sick than I ever felt pregnant… oh and I forgot the gestational diabetes first pregnancy.”
But the story that sticks out the most is from my friend Amy, who wrote about her experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and I cannot imagine a pregnancy that makes you so physically ill that there is no such thing as “normal” or feeling up to anything because EVERYTHING is focused on getting nourishment to your body for the sake of your life and your baby’s. Even newspapers are dismissing a newly pregnant Princess Kate’s battle with HG.
I ask you, what is wrong with people? Can’t we keep our ignorance out of the facts?
Maybe there is a huge generational difference between myself and the teacher, one where in her mother’s time, women pushed through their pregnancies no matter what. Medical advances and doctors specializing in high risk pregnancies didn’t exist. Maybe in that time women were expected to suck up a medical condition or an internal illness and as long as they looked okay on the outside nothing was wrong with them. Perhaps there is also a difference from then to now on how a woman cares for and respects her own body and of the women around her. I don’t know, I don’t pretend to know or understand what would compel a teacher to make such an uninformed, senseless comment to a group of young people.
What I do know is this, it’s not okay to dismiss someone based on how they look and I really, in my very heart, feel that that’s what she was doing. You don’t know a person’s condition by looking at them or their swelling belly. You don’t know the pain they could be in just to survive every day let alone bring a child in the world safely. I sure as hell don’t look sick but I can tell you that while my pacemaker does a kick ass job of keeping me in good health, there is something wrong with me and there always will be. It will never go away and I will never recover or not need the assistance of a pacemaker.
And on the outside, I look just.fine.
Every pregnant woman who has worked her ass off by “being lazy” and following her doctor’s instructions just so she could bring a healthy baby into the world needs to be commended not demeaned or disgraced.
Today, I’m working with a cooler head. I’m working on an email to the school principal and the teacher herself, not to berate but to educate and inform that personal opinions, no matter how harmless they seem – have no business in the classroom. You want to educate your students on the difference between illness and laziness? Bring in pregnant women and let them tell the class what it’s like to feel pregnant – to constantly worry that they’re bringing a healthy life into this world, that when you’re sick it’s important to take care of yourself and the baby and allow people to help you and above all else, to never, Never, EVER let the world make you feel bad for putting yourself and your unborn baby first.
What have you done or endured during pregnancy to bring your baby into this world safely? What would you say to this teacher?
Image via bjearwicke