It was a rerun of “Pregnant in Heels,” the one where Rosie coaches another unrealistic mama-to-be. But this time, the mother was single and in this episode, Rosie was called in to help her navigate dating rather than finding a nanny or birthing class. While other pregnant ladies on the show teeter around their penthouse apartments, babyproofing in Louboutins, this near-birth mama needed a first-date outfit and script to explain her obvious belly situation to potential matches.
I’d seen the show in its first run and was watching it again, perhaps even more attentively this time. In the typical Bravo formula that we despise and are addicted to, the episode was hyped well beyond maternity concierge Rosie Pope’s serious but calm way. IS SHE JUST LOOKING FOR A DADDY? HOW WILL SHE REVEAL THE BIG SECRET? WILL THAT FINE YOUNG MAN THINK SHE’S HOT WITH THAT WADDLE?
Those are not the real questions asked in the teasers, but the storyline screamed of the craziness — OK, rarity — of the single-pregnant-lady-wants-to-date scenario. But is this really a rarity?
After all, Miranda did it, and boldly, in Sex and the City. Nor did a positive pregnancy test stop Rachel from getting intimate on Friends. In present tense, the reality show “Pregnant and Dating” premiered on WE tv in June. And while some people quoted in press on the new show called it “scary and creepy” and “something rough to deal with” and may as well have added a big old exclamation mark to “a baby is a dealbreaker”, a poll the network conducted with Associated Press counts 23% of participating men as saying they’d consider a relationships with a woman who is with child.
More press reveals questions about sex and condoms — things we’d never ask of a Bachelorette or cast member of another dating show. All sensationalizing and scripting and not-reality aspects of reality shows aside, these questions just underline how much we want to separate a woman’s sexuality from conception. And what misogyny to assume that once a woman has conceived, her life can no longer be her own and that she should place all hopes of love or companionship or just a dinner out on hold until the baby is born — or better yet, a year old. Maybe two.
I haven’t been a pregnant single woman and I imagine the choice to date during that time is very personal. Whether a woman is a few weeks in or almost full-term, I just cannot judge her for wanting to pursue romantic connections. I remember that when I was pregnant, there was a lot more going on with my nether-regions than growing a human being, and I don’t think it’s any of our business how single pregnant ladies manage all that glorious extra blood flow.
Some experts or authors or people who just have an opinion on such things advise pregnant women to spill the news on a first date to build trust right away. My personal, non-pregnant but seasoned-dater advice does not fall in line with that. I believe it is wise to hold on to all major life information (and “secrets,” if this is what you consider pregnancy) until the second date. Maybe later. I don’t think you owe any life-shifting, identity-changing information to the relative stranger staring at you over a bowl of shrimp fettucini. I don’t think you should LIE, but I also think it is just fine to reserve your trust for someone who you are sure is worthy of Date #2. Maybe #3.
If it is obvious — like if you have to request to meet a restaurant without booths because you can no longer squeeze your belly into one — well, then, you may want to share that news ahead of time. But otherwise, early-stage, same-old-pants-just-unbuttoned dating seems to have more breathing room (literally and metaphorically).
Should I have been pregnant when I became single, I very well might have put myself on Match.com anyway. Or maybe I would have been too busy nibbling Saltines/inhaling red meat/nesting/sobbing at commercials to care about sharing a moment with a date. I don’t know.
But I do know it’s time to stop making pregnant single women into a freak show, it’s time to stop thinking they don’t deserve the opportunity to date, have sex or look for love no matter how many weeks they measure. And I am not sure it is the portrayal on this new reality show or television of the past that’s the problem as much as the commentary about the very pregnant characters that follows.
Would you? Should you? Did you date while you were pregnant?
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.