Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Are Pregnant Women Narcissistic?

I was reading a brief interview recently with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host on the popular daytime tv show The View.

In the interview, Elisabeth referred to women in their first pregnancies being referred to as pregnant goddesses and by a subsequent pregnancy or their third (as I am in now and she is as well) no longer being so.

Some of the comments to this article reflected that people disliked Hasselbeck and a few pointed out how she often draws comments to herself or her pregnancy on the show. I never watch, so I don't know. But it did make me wonder, are we narcissistic as pregnant women? I try not to use my pregnancy as an excuse too often as to why I can or cannot do something. A recent episode of the show Rules of Engagement also highlighted this when the character Audrey has a pregnant co-worker's work dumped on her. To add insult to injury, Audrey and her husband Jeff have been trying for several months to conceive unsuccessfully and the pregnant co-worker is constantly giving "updates" on her baby's growth (which she calls natal-nuggets) and requirements and telling co-workers where they can eat lunch because of her dietary requirements.

Being pregnant does make a woman feel special, no doubt about it. The awesome responsibility of carrying a life and the amazing journey of it are not to be downplayed. However, I do see a lot of women who expect the world to stop for them because they are pregnant. Now, I am not one of these who feels like pregnancy is a medical condition or not. For me, pregnancy comes with medical conditions, but it is hard for me to justify getting so much special attention or treatment. On a recent brief trip we took, I was amazed at how courteous people were, opening doors for me, helping me with bags. Then I realized why. I was pregnant. Had I been old or woman with a toddler, I doubt I would have gotten such treatment.

So how do we celebrate pregnancy but not overdo it? As I wrote before, pregnancy can be painful for those unable to conceive or carry a child. I have had friends who were unable to conceive after I was able to and I very carefully made sure that I was not "flaunting" my pregnancy while still including them. But what about the pregnant celebrities we all flock to find out about? What about the women who carry multiples and are celebrated with reality television shows. What about the super-sized families who announce pregnancies on the Today show? Sometimes I feel like, "good for them," but why do we care?

My mother told me once that after first pregnancies, subsequent ones are not as exciting for friends and family. My own family reacted in a very muted way to this pregnancy initially. They were happy and there were congratulations, but not the exuberance of our first. And I figured that pregnancy was a fact of life and while we celebrated the new life coming into our family, I cannot expect the world to share that to the extent we do. And I certainly can't expect the whole world to stop because I felt the baby kick either.

Pregnant women are beautiful and pregnancy is a wondrous thing, no doubt, but we must remember the world still exists outside of our pregnancy and we must respect that.

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