This weekend I dropped by Whole Foods to pick something up and was bombarded with the sights and smells of the holidays.
"Try some brie?" a tattooed woman in an apron said to me.
"Uhhh.. no thanks," I replied.
"Sample this red wine for the holidays," my favorite Whole Foods food pusher asked.
"Would you like to try some fresh sushi?"
Ahhh! Turning down free food and alcohol is not a regular occurrence for me; in fact, it's No. 2 on my list of things "not to do." But when you are six months pregnant, there are a whole host of items that you cannot partake of. As this is my first holiday season being in a state of gestation, there are quite a few things that I already see as "going to suck." So, for all my preggos out there, here are the pros and cons of being with child during the most wonderful time of the year.
Cons No Booze
Let's start with the obvious and most painful - no alcohol. This is the time of year for relentless intoxication. Thanksgiving dinners are not complete without a glass of wine, the endless holiday parties and happy hours feel pointless without partaking in whatever cranberry cocktail special is on the drink menu and eggnog (for me, soynog) is something to wait for all year. Of course, they will say, "you don't need a drink to have fun," but those people are obviously wrong. They have never been in the middle of an awkward holiday work party stone-cold sober; it's not fun. Watching your coworkers get tanked doing the Macarena, may sound fascinating, but it is not... at all.
I hear you - you'll have a drink anyway (did you just say that to me or did I hear it from that devil currently sitting on my left shoulder?) Really, studies show that a glass or two of wine over the course of your pregnancy will not affect your baby, and there is even that crazy non-MD author who came out with a book this year stating that we should be drinking while pregnant. How many pregnant women out there praised her name when they read that news? So, sure, have a glass with your turkey and feel OK about it. And then watch as the rest of the table stares at you in disgust. "She is killing her baby," they are quietly thinking as they down their fifth rum cider. The choice is yours - have a cup of cheer and feel the disappointment of your friends/family/strangers at bars staring at you or suck it up and stay sober. Or, follow my advice, poor some in a mug and pretend it's apple juice.
Of all of the rules of pregnancy, the no caffeine one happens to be the most ignored. The research says that too much caffeine causes underweight babies and potentials for preterm labor, but no coffee during the holidays is a tough one. Let's put aside the fact that you are already exhausted from lack of sleep and carrying extra weight around with you, but now toss in shopping for presents, cooking, standing on line to get one of those flying saucer pies that everyone is always talking about, having to wake up extra early to make sure that your father-in-law doesn't break your toilet, and the fact that your usual bedtime of 7:30 is now blown out of the water due to never-ending Monopoly games and long-winded family stories about that time your dad met Forrest Whitaker that you've heard eight times before. You will beg for a Starbucks. My advice is to do the best you can do, have a half a cup and don't feel guilty about it.
Heartburn City Oh the joys of motherhood! If you have not yet experienced the pleasure of pregnancy heartburn, just wait, it will come. And boy is it miserable, especially when you eat anything. Really anything. And what else do you have to look forward to this season aside from eating, which is now plagued by a burning sensation in your throat? Your options are pretty limited here - don't eat anything, which is just plain silly, or suck it up and suffer through. I vote for the latter. The silver lining here is that you can and should complain about it nonstop.
You Are a Whale
The prettiest of pretty clothing comes out for the holidays, rich fabrics, shiny, sparkly, gold and silvers. This is the only time of the year where every person out there can get away with wearing gold lame. But for us in the pregnant club, our options are limited. You can go out and buy some over-priced maternity outfit that will do the job, but the sad fact remains, you are fat and you look like a whale. And why buy an expensive dress that you are only going to wear once in your life and then... oh wait, never mind that's any holiday outfit. As far as fashion for the stomach-heavy ladies in the world has come, it's still maternity clothing and it's still kinda ugly.
So what do you wear to that holiday shin dig? I say wear a pair of sweatpants and your husband's jogging hoodie. Make fun of me fabulous looking people, I dare you. I'm pregnant.
Pros Just Eat It
Dark meat? Why yes and leave the skin on please. Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and butter? Better make it two helpings. Pie? What kind do you have and I'll have a slice of each. There is one amazingly wonderful thing about being pregnant during the holidays and that is the eating part. For the first part of my pregnancy, I tried to keep my caloric intake under wraps. Yes, I've gotten lax and my evenings now always include pudding, but for the most part pregnant women don't turn into gorging monsters. Throw that out the window this holiday season and eat until you have to puke. And then puke and then say you feel sick and go lie down because eating that much takes a lot of energy and you can't have any caffeine to wake yourself up.
You Are the Star I am not a fan of being the center of attention, but the holidays are when you get to see people who you don't normally see year-round, and why not let them fawn over you, just this once? They WANT to do it; don't take that away from them. How does this doting take place? They want to help cook? Let them help cook. They want you to sit down and put your feet up? Pop a squat and watch the Macy's Parade. They insist that you take a nap? For the love of everything holy, go take a nap! Your friends and family want to make a big a deal over you; they want to see those creepy 3D ultrasound images, they want to hear about your backache, they even care about the varicose veins splattering across your legs. There is no reason to push this type of attention away; in 1-9 months it will not be over you and you'll have to deal with being a second-class citizen forever.
Your Husband Will Be Trying Harder
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Your husband's mother may ask you during your weekly phone calls, "Is that son of mine taking good care of you?" "Of course!" you reply as you empty the dishwasher with a basket of laundry at your hip. Yes, he's been helping more, but more is not good enough during the holidays. Just watch as your husband jumps to attention when his parents come for a visit.
All of a sudden he will have learned to cook, use a sponge, pick things up off the floor that he put there and actually place them in their correct habitats, brush his teeth, brush crumbs off of his own shirt that he made from eating and figure out how to get to the dry cleaner down the street. He will offer to jump in the car at any hour to pick up ingredients that may have been left out and none of them will be beer (of course this is double-edged, he really just wants to get out of the house) and he will clear your plate away just to be nice! Take advantage of your husband during this time, this will never, ever happen again.