Why Being Pregnant At Christmas Absolutely Blows

Photo: courtesy of aimee phillips.
Being heavily pregnant at Christmas (32 + 5 in pregnant lingo, eight months if you use the more reasonable time-measurement system) has so far elicited two distinct responses from people in passing conversation.

From Group 1, who for the purposes of this essay I will refer to as “normal people”, I've gotten something resembling envy. "Wow, you've got lots of time to relax and eat!" "Great to get some rest before the baby comes!"

I must admit, when I realised that the dreaded third trimester would coincide with the festive season, it initially sounded like a great idea. In my current state, I'll gratefully take sofa time over an office commute. Strangely though, there was a wholly different response from Group 2 aka the enlightened ones – the wise women I will refer to as the “formerly pregnant”.

When the subject of Christmas has come up and I've expressed my cheerful and naive anticipation, the reaction has been much closer to pity. Since I have not yet experienced Christmas as a pregnant person, I can only surmise based on the following confirmed Christmas facts.

Christmas is a time to rest and relax
Here's the thing: I can no longer rest and I can barely relax. People love to good-naturedly chide you. “Enjoy it now, you'll get no sleep when the baby is here!” Enjoy what, exactly? My extremely compromised lung capacity? The perpetual dead arm from sleeping exclusively on my left side for months because it's the only option I've got? The four or five bathroom trips per night that pepper an already fitful night's sleep?

Yes, in theory, there will be lots of time for “resting” at Christmas. But as it gets harder and harder to find a comfortable position even to sit and watch TV, the only thing I seem to be getting more of is frustration. Relaxation eludes me.

Christmas is all about eating
Considering the fact that for the past six weeks or so I've been glugging my way through a bottle or so a day of Gaviscon Double Action (heartburn AND indigestion, if you were wondering), you can imagine the trepidation that comes along with knowing that the coming days will be an all-you-can-eat bonanza.

It ain't hard to tell from the ramped-up marketing spend of antacid brands during the festive season that the varied menu and deluxe portion sizes that we associate with Christmas will give even the strongest-stomached of us heartburn. So what should I be anticipating, considering that even a glass of lukewarm water is just as likely to fire up my stomach acids as a spicy bean burrito? And even in the unlikely event that my heartburn relents (which would be a Christmas miracle), I've now got a markedly decreased stomach capacity to contend with thanks to the increased amount of real estate my unborn daughter is claiming in my abdomen. So, sadly, there's not even much room left for the infamous seasonal binge.

Christmas is all about getting boozed up
Everything is more fun at Christmas when you're getting on the wine with family and friends. Tedious board games are suddenly fun! Not-so-close relatives can bond over the “naughtiness” of having a drink before midday... C'mon it's Christmas! Someone drank a few extra sherrys and fell off a chair! A freezing and rainy march down to the pub is rewarded handsomely with a few rounds of warming festive drinks, and the subsequent buzz will be just enough to get you back home in time to get a few more in before you're sat watching whatever shitty Christmas television is being forced upon you.

But what happens to us forgotten ones? Who can the sober Sallys turn to when even small children are sneaking a Baileys? I'm not a huge drinker under normal circumstances but at Christmas I do like to be festive, and I can tell you that the recommended one unit of alcohol isn't gonna get the job done.

Christmas is the marker of another year gone by and an excuse to reflect on the year ahead
I could complain about being pregnant all day long (and I do!) but even I must admit that the combination of the raging hormones and the underlying sentimentality of the festive season leads to probably my most important Christmas revelation: reflection.

I'm not normally the type to get emotional at this time of year, but no matter how pragmatic my approach, being pregnant is a very big and very intense milestone. This will be my first Christmas as a pregnant woman and my last Christmas before becoming someone's mother.
Thinking of how different things will be next year naturally brings up memories of my other major Christmas firsts: My first Nintendo console (which blew my mind), bought for me by my dad and broken in by him and my uncle who stayed up all night to beat Super Mario Bros.; the first family Christmas where we fled the cold of New York for tropical Puerto Rico, which would become our family tradition; my first Christmas in the UK with my best friend's family, where we noted all of our cultural differences and laughed until we cried; and my first Christmas with my now-husband, realising his family were becoming my family too.

The impending arrival of a new cast member to the family Christmas table inevitably makes me think about the people with whom I've shared past Christmases: friends or family who are now oceans away, those whose lives have just taken a different path from mine, and, of course, the beloved friends and family members who are no longer with us.

As one of my favourite people recently said on the subject: life goes on. And before I know it, I'll be making preparations for next Christmas and reminiscing about how different things were back when I was pregnant at Christmas.