Extract "I Forgot to Take My Pill': Stupid Shit My Neighbour Says (When You're Pregnant!)
HerFamily.ie contributor, Sharyn Hayden has written a book. You know, along with being a stand-up comedian, presenter, actress, mother to two kids and a dog and creating and running the brilliant website RaisingIreland.com, she's written a book.
We're feeling impressed and exhausted in equal measure. Sharyn lives in Dublin with her husband, Alan (AKA 'Ass Monkey') and children. Her weakness is Meanies crisps combined with grated cheddar in a white roll with butter for lunch. Fact.
All week we will have exclusive extracts from Sharyn's hilarious literary tour de force, I Forgot To Take My Pill! – An honest Diary of a First-time Mum. Chapters with intriguing titles like "Daisy trumps willy" and "Snatch to the wind" will be winging their way to you all week.
In today's chapter Sharyn navigates the choppy waters of pregnancy buoyed by her belly and self-righteous indignation at the comments she has to suffer through.
Chapter 4: Stupid Shit My Neighbour Says
For some reason, perhaps resting within the realms of sadism, people just love to share awful horror stories with pregnant women and especially to women who are expecting their first baby.
You know that precise time when you’re already terrified, resolutely refusing to dye your hair, drink anything with caffeine in it, lift or carry anything (that’s a great one for getting out of the vacuum cleaning, by the way), or eat anything that’s been in the fridge for longer than twelve hours? That’s when they strike, the miserable bastards.
I am well aware of how lucky I was when pregnant in that I wasn’t sick in any way (just had evil heartburn towards the end), or needed crutches like my friend Simsonite, who had a pain that she described as ‘not unlike someone had actually kicked you straight in the gee.’
She had that for half of her pregnancy. That’s TWENTY WEEKS. Which is FIVE WHOLE MONTHS.
Please don’t make me break it down into days for you, math gives me psoriasis.
So even though I had been thoroughly enjoying myself while I was pregnant, basking in the ‘I can eat what I like, lie down when I like’ glory of the whole process, there were certain people I encountered along the way who kind of tried to ruin it.
These were people who took great pleasure in cocking their condescending faces to one side, employing their most annoying talking-to-a-mentally-challenged-person-tone, in order to say things like,
Cockface: ‘Hi, how are you doing there, pregnant lady? Aren’t you positively blooming?’
Me: ‘Oh yes, doing great thanks. The baby is healthy, I’m healthy, I’m actually really enjoying it.’
Cockface: ‘Awww, that’s great for you that you’re feeling great now, yar yar. Just great (Put-on smile fades to reveal authentic face of bitter and twisted miserable bitch akin to Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust when the youth serum wears off). I’m telling you now though, just wait until…’
…and they gleefully proceed to describe something horrific involving you and your newborn baby having to be airlifted to safety from the clutches of some pack of wolves or other.
To prevent me from unearthing my inner scumbag and punching anyone’s face in, I ultimately took on board a policy of laughing my pregnant ass off whenever I was offered one of these ‘pearls of wisdom’ and tried not to take any of it too seriously.
When relaying these comments to Ass Monkey or any nice friends and family, I entitled this scaremongering practice as ‘Stupid Shit My Neighbour Says’, in order to give it the jolly feel it so deserved (By the way, I used the term ‘neighbour’ in general terms, describing the people in my life and community and not to describe my actual next-door neighbour at the time) (Although not necessarily not her either).
Here’s just a little example of the type of comments that I received upon sharing the good news that I was pregnant and general unsolicited comments received relating to the upcoming (very exciting – to me!) birth of my child.
Try to use the most irritating, whiny, bitter and twisted voice that your brain will conjure up as you read them, and you’ll get the idea of what I had to endure. Side note: I am NOT making any of these up - I SWEAR.
1. ‘Coming off the pill and getting pregnant straight away is really bad for the baby.’ (This person knew that this is precisely how we got pregnant. Pill in bin, rampant riding, impregnated. Job done. I’d say I was off the pill all of five seconds. Thanks, asshole).
2. ‘Oh you’re pregnant! Congratulations! I nearly died during childbirth, and so did my sister. But erm, that won’t happen to you.’
3. ‘Are you dying with heartburn yet? No? You probably will be, mark my words. Keeps you awake all night long and sometimes you feel like someone shoved lighter fluid down your throat and set a match to it.’
4. ‘Wait until your organs start all pushing up against your ribcage. It hurts so, so, SOOOOO much.’
5. ‘Pregnant, is it? Another little shit to add to the world then.’ (yes, really)
6. ‘Don’t get your hopes up.’ (This was when I was going for a scan to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. I WILL get my fucking hopes up if you don’t mind!)
7. ‘I know for a FACT that the use of second-hand mattresses for your baby cot or Moses basket leads directly to cot death.’ (Where are you getting all of this ‘factual’ information from? And is this really from the woman who smoked twenty cigarettes a day while she was pregnant?)
8. ‘Did you plan it?’
Number 8, without a shadow of a doubt, has to have been my favourite. I mean, Ass Monkey and I may not have pondered on the decision for very long (i.e. a couple of text messages and one drunken, loved-up lunch), but we did make the decision to have a baby. I was thirty-four and he was thirty-eight! We were extremely grown up and sensible and based our decision on the following information:
1. We (he) was getting on and we (he) didn’t want to be an old parent (dad).
2. We didn’t hate kids.
3. It would be an amazing experience to embark upon together.
4. We may only have been going out together for three (sometimes turbulent) years, but we were friends before that for ten, so essentially we were enough of an old married couple to pull it off.
5. Everyone else was doing it.
6. We had gotten a dog in July and had managed to keep her alive thus far. A baby couldn’t be that much different.
7. Even though Ass Monkey wasn’t (and still isn’t, unfortunately) black, I would still concur that he was the most handsome man I had ever met and I chose to procreate with him, and him only.
So we did (loosely) plan it. And is it anyone’s business if we didn’t anyway? What kind of question IS that to ask someone? That’s the kind of juicy information you stumble upon when you meet your friend from school at a wedding, who you haven’t seen for fifteen years, and she blurts out, crying, ‘I don’t know how I’m pregnant. We haven’t had sex in four years. The only thing I can think of is the Jacuzzi that time when I went to Lanzarote with the girls…waaaaaahhhh.’
That’s the kind of information I’m into discussing. Unsolicited, Jeremy Kyle Show worthy info. But I’d never ask. Unless the baby to a very white Irish couple did actually come out black. Then I’d - at the very least - raise an eyebrow.
Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Pregnant Woman
1. ‘OOOH DOESN’T THAT FEEL AMAAAZING…’
…as you rub the bump you weren’t invited to rub. Do you seriously not understand that a pregnancy bump isn’t some sort of ‘clip-on extension’ to my body – it’s an actual part of me that starts under my boobs and stops close to my vagina? My vagina. If you insist on grabbing for it and rubbing the underside of the bump – at my vagina – with that ridiculous delighted-to-be-a-part-of-the-magic grin on your face, I’m going to have to shove my hand down your husband’s pants the next time I see him. Same. Exact. Thing.
2. ‘OH MY GOD YOU’RE HUGE!’
Are you joking me? I’m entirely exhausted from growing this person inside me as I carry on working/walking the dog/dealing with the increasingly demented staff at buggy retail outlets, I had to quit smoking – my favourite pastime – my Forever 21 sparkly mini dress now makes me look like Little Miss Sunshine when I try it on, no one will have sex with me (and believe me, I’ve asked everyone), I’ve just watched a video of a woman giving birth in the seventies at the maternity hospital, which I will never get over – and you want to tell me that I’m fat. Do you? DO YOU?!
3. ‘ARE YOU STILL HERE?’
This can also masquerade as ‘Have you not had that baby yet ha ha!’, is a sacked employee of ‘He’s too happy in his mammy’s tummy there, isn’t he?’ and a distant (weird) cousin of ‘Is it your first? You’ll probably go about two weeks over so.’ Like, who are you – some uterine cosmologist who specifically knows the course of my gestation period? And if so, where the fuck were you approximately (who can say, we were drunk a lot) forty weeks ago to tell him to put a frickin’ condom on?
Sharyn Hayden's book I Forgot to Take my Pill is available to order on Amazon.