Friday, November 17, 2006

Book Review: The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy

I hated this book. I hated, hated, hated it. It was insulting to both genders and offered almost nothing in the way of advice, help, or useful tips. Every third or fifth page had some stupid note on it to the husband (the term itself, being so gender-and-marriage-specific, bothered me) about how he should buy the pregnant woman jewelry or stop telling her she looks fat or something. The author suggested you leave the book open on his pillow so he’d notice her sage words of wisdom and not only stop calling you a fat cow but also buy you a shiny diamond.

Let me paraphrase some of the book’s major points:

- So you’re pregnant! Well, congratulations. You’re going to get fat, you know. Really, really fat. And your husband (because nobody but hetero married couples have babies) is going to laugh at your big fat ass and call you a big fat fatso fatty all the time because you’ll be really FAT! Isn’t that funny? Ha ha ha ha ha! Don’tcha just love being Girlfriends?

- Your husband is freaking out right now because you’re pregnant. Even if he says he’s happy, he’s not. I know y’all didn’t do this together, on purpose, because a man would NEVER consent to having a child willingly! He doesn’t want that responsibility! Men are really just big babies themselves, ha ha ha! And he can’t be happy about this, because it means he won’t be the only baby around anymore! Even if he’s being nice to you and not calling you a big fatty fat fatso like most husbands do, he’s faking. He’s just waiting so he can get “sympathy pains” and “sympathy nausea” and gain “sympathy weight” so you’ll have to baby him again. Because, you see, he’s just a big, whiny tittybaby like all men! They’re all big babies, tee hee! But, shucks, us gals gotta take care of ‘em, because that’s our job! Hee hee hee! Where would we be if we didn’t take care of our big baby men? Why, we’d be the lowest form of life on earth – husbandless women! Ha ha ha! Don’tcha just love being Girlfriends?!

- Don’t bother with exercise during pregnancy. You’re going to get HUGE and FAT anyway, and exercise won’t make your husband want to sleep with you again. Besides, all those studies that say women in better shape do better during labor are full of crap! Take it from me, your Very Close Girlfriend - you should just lay on the couch for nine months! Do nothing! Become a human garden slug, only with less movement! Get even fatter, because your husband doesn’t love you anymore anyway!

- Oh, how cute! You think you’re going to have a “natural” childbirth? (*pats me on the head*) Well, sweetie, take it from me, Your Very Close Girlfriend, you won’t. You’ll be screaming for that epidural in no time. You’re just not strong enough to do it without drugs, hon. Women aren’t that strong, we’re just built to be mommies, not endure torture. And why would you even bother? What’s the point, you think you’re cool or something? Trust me, Your Very Close Girlfriend, when I say that you’re going to get the epidural. No matter what your poor little womany birdbrain THINKS you’re going to do, you’ll get the epidural anyway.

- Don’t bother with maternity clothes, just wear your husband’s fat pants. Why bother trying to look nice when he won’t touch you in bed anyway? And also borrow his hugely oversize t-shirts; the slob look is good for you! But if you do wear maternity clothes, I suggest lots of stirrup pants. And schlubby overalls. Or better yet, you should get my favorite item of pregnancy clothing – a stirrup-pants jumpsuit! ***I am so not kidding, she did actually mention stirrup pants BY NAME and rave about her one-piece jumpsuit. The damn book was written in 1995, not the fucking Dark Ages. Stirrup pants? Really? Give me a goddamned break.

- Your husband is a big, dumb louse. All men are. And he’ll probably call you fat, or laugh at you when you’re being a Psycho Pregnant Lady (because all women are psycho hose beasts underneath, it’s our hormones, tee-hee), or he’ll start fucking the interns at his office, but that’s okay, because (*adoring smile*) he’s your guy! And guys are like that, ha-ha! And they’re all dumb and insensitive and lecherous and afraid of fatherhood! HA HA HA HA! Isn’t that FUNNY? Don’tcha just love being Girlfriends?

I could not actually get all the way to the last page of this book. I think I had 10 pages to go or something. It was so insulting and stupid and useless I could not force myself to go on. I do remember getting very upset at the chapter about labor & delivery, because she said
a) go to the hospital as soon as you feel the first little twinge – why bother staying home? The sooner you get there, the sooner you can get some drugs and your epidural.
b) Lots of doctors and nurses will come in and poke at you, and do things to you, and you won’t have a say in it but that’s okay because why should you care? You’ve got your epidural and you’re going to be a MOMMY!! What else could you possibly care about?
c) You have to do whatever the doctors say, whenever they say it. They’ll maybe let you keep your own socks on, but that’s all you get to control.

For some reason, the socks part upset me most. I showed it to my husband and I was really, really freaking out about it – almost hyperventilating and crying upset. “SOCKS?! That’s all I get out of this, I get to keep my SOCKS? They can poke me and tie me down and not let me eat or drink anything and they only let me keep my SOCKS?? I want to keep more than my socks, I want to do it wearing my own clothes! I don’t want a stupid hospital gown and a bunch of people looking at me and poking me and telling me what to do! I want to keep more than my SOCKS!” I was wailing now, picturing this horrific scene, like from an alien abduction movie. It seemed so scary, all of this, and I wanted to crawl away and find the crunchiest, granola-est midwifery practice I could. After reading this book, I was pretty much ready to start training for a marathon and then go give birth in the woods, since sitting on my ass for nine months and going to the hospital meant all I got to keep was my damned socks.

My husband found the book pretty fucking offensive, too. He’s not a big whiner, a big baby, or a pig. This whole kid thing was his idea, and he’s still way more excited about it than I am. He is totally psyched about being a dad, whereas I despise the word “mommy” and have pretty meh feelings about this whole baby thing so far. He doesn’t think I’m fat, and still desires me as much as ever (no, he’s not just saying that, like this book and so many others would have you believe). He takes good care of me when I need it, gives me space when I need it, and never says things like “I want my old wife back, you know, the one you used to be before you got pregnant.” According to the book, he’s either faking all this or he doesn’t exist, and either possibility is one he objects to.

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