I was four months pregnant with my third child, and pretty obviously showing. This is the time when most women avoid sushi, wine, and various thrilling or hazardous escapades. Me? I pretend not to be pregnant in order to hop aboard a kiddie ride at an amusement park.
I believe that women, in general, are familiar with their own bodies. We know when something’s amiss. We know when we’re pushing ourselves too far – and when we’re not. When it comes to our babies, we know what’s up. There are countless stories of pregnant women who have followed their gut instincts – demanding additional tests or walking into a hospital when something felt “off,” just in time to avert a crisis. So I’ve never been one to agonize over the do’s and don’ts, opting instead to follow some general safety precautions coupled with a healthy dose of self-awareness.
During this pregnancy, my toddler and preschooler were cooped up in the house with me for the nausea-filled first trimester. They were itching for some action, so my husband and I took them to the local theme park for our anniversary. Not the most romantic setting in the world, but we couldn’t get childcare and thought a family adventure would be fun.
Now, the up-and-downs and roundy-rounds in the kiddie part of the park are pretty tame – far less vigorous than the daily goat-wrangling, bucket-carrying and truck-riding that I do every day on our farm, so I didn’t expect to have any issues. Pregnant or not, a typical day for me involves heaving open metal pens, watering chickens and reining in guard dogs that weigh almost as much as I do. Strenuous physical activity is constantly on the table so a theme park is, quite literally, a walk in the park for me.
We waited in line and clambered aboard our first ride when the operator approached and asked if I was pregnant.
The question hung there for a second as I blinked and pondered.
I wasn’t about to get kicked off a 2 mph ride and make my toddler miss out on the experience (rules require one adult accompany each child under 48″).
So I denied it.
“My apologies,” she blushed, and hurried away.
I felt a little off the rest of the night. I wasn’t worried about the ride, but felt an overwhelming sense of guilt at denying my baby. Karma’s a bitch, as they say, and I know how I feel about non-disabled people who park in handicapped stalls. Was fibbing about my pregnancy the same thing? Let’s not tempt fate!
But here’s the thing: history has taught me that I know my body. With my first pregnancy, the doctors urged me to get an emergency C-section fearing that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. It wasn’t. With my second, they rolled their eyes and insisted that I was not in labor after being rushed to the hospital two weeks early. “Go home, Chelsea. It’s too soon.” Three hours later, my beautiful son came into the world.
The recommendations, the expert opinions … they aren’t always right.
Blanket guidelines from corporations are fine – as long as they are just that, guidelines. Employees shouldn’t be put on pregnancy patrol. Many airlines, for example, don’t allow pregnant women to fly beyond 28 weeks. So are personnel supposed to awkwardly size up every belly they come across?
Medical recommendations, on the other hand, typically allow air travel up to week 36, though I have personally pulled out of family vacations at 32 weeks, feeling too fatigued and at-risk. In the medical world, as in pregnancy and life in general, there is room for second opinions and interpretation. It should be up to each individual to weigh directives and consider their actions.
I know an acrobat who trained on the trapeze well into her third trimester – and she claims that her late physical activity helped her recover quickly after labor and be a better parent in the early months. I understand that our litigious society puts businesses in an awkward position, but that doesn’t make it right.
Why is it that pregnant women can run marathons or opt for a glass of wine with dinner, but I can’t choose to take my toddler on the Flying Fish?
My baby, my responsibility, my decision.More On