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Fluctuations of Ego

As I grabbed what seemed like an entire fistful of hair that had fallen out of my head this morning, I began thinking about pregnancy’s under-advertised upsides. For many women, your hair and skin never looks better than while you are pregnant, and for me this was certainly true. For the first time since I was about 13, my complexion was bright and blemish free. And my hair, always thick, became even thicker as normal shedding ceased.

But more than that, I understand in hindsight that pregnancy is a glorious time for those of us who have a self-involved streak. Everyone asks about you all the time. Friends, family, coworkers… your husband’s friends, family, and coworkers. Even random and well meaning strangers. Plus, it’s the only time in you life when the expected answer to the question “How are you?” is not a short and simple “fine, thanks.”

Quite the opposite, people want details. How are you sleeping? How much weight have you gained? Do you feel OK? Can you still wear your shoes? When’s your next appointment? As I had a gloriously easy pregnancy, this was all quite fun. I had a little insomnia early and late in the game, but other than that suffered no ill effects from being in the family way. And who wouldn’t enjoy being the center of so much attention? Certainly not I.

The danger is that you get used to this, and then suddenly all that attention goes elsewhere. Specifically, it goes to the baby. The first two weeks or so after delivery, you can still be pretty self-centered, as people still ask a bevvy of questions. How are you recovering? How was labor? Are you sleeping OK? How much weight have you lost? Can you wear your old shoes again?

Then, right around the time you get your six-week checkup at the OBGYN’s, all this attention dries up and it’s all about the baby all the time. I have actually been greeted by family members with a simple “Where’s Simon?” if I walk in the door first and Matt is behind with the baby.

As an added insult, this deflection of interest happens right about the time that all that hair you didn’t shed for nine months comes falling out, your borrowed glowing skin recedes to whatever you normally have (Hello ProActiv!), and what was once a taut midriff that blossomed into a cute “baby bump” has become a sloppy affair with and extra inch or two of loose skin.

Then again, it can also be a relief to pass the attention baton. The more people are interested in the baby, the less they are likely to notice the aforementioned blotchy skin, thinning hair, and thick waistline. And frankly, after a few weeks my own well being is so inextricably tied to Simon that I tend to answer all queries in relation to him anyway. “How are you?” is answered with either “Great. Simon’s in a good mood today” or “Ugh. Simon’s been so fussy.”

Funnily enough, many of the questions people ask about Simon are the same as those people used to have for me. When’s his next appointment? How much weight has he gained? How’s he sleeping? Is he eating OK?

I’ve been telling Simon to relish this attention while he can, because soon enough another baby will be born into our circle of family and friends and he, too, will have to take a backseat. How will he cope? I’m not sure. But he can always start blogging…

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