Every day when I go to work, the security guy at my office says in a high-pitched voice with a piercing Guatemalan accent, “You’re getteeng beeeeegger, Rene.” A week later… “Getteeng beeeeger.” Seriously every day… “Hey Rene… Getteeng beeeeger.” Until finally last week he said, “Oh! You can RRRRREALLY tell now!” Since then I have become “The Pregnant Lady.” I was sure I would have resented this but in fact it’s been somewhat of a relief. For the first time in my life, people know what I am.
Before this nine-month baby marathon, I have always been hard to figure out. No one can tell my ethnicity or marital status, my career is as unfocused as my skill set, my husband and I look nothing alike, I get nervous if my friends ever start to make up a decipherable demographic, I never see bands in corresponding attire, my birth name means the sea and the sun, astrologically I’m on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, and I am a middle child first generation American who grew up with two cultures and two languages. No wonder I have a hard time getting cast in shows or films–no one knows what I am or what I represent. But now, I am “The Pregnant Lady” the “Preggo” “Preggers” any way you say it, I am pregnant. My ever-expanding stomach has made me a definite someone in the eyes of others. I no longer need to explain myself because everyone thinks they know pregnant women. Pregnant women are delicate flowers. Pregnant women are coy. Pregnant women have to be careful to not over exert themselves. Pregnant women are inherently motherly. Pregnant women are all alike. Because of these stereotypes that see us as helpless warm angels, simple demands are met without question like needing a bathroom break, water, or snacks, a place to sit and some me time so I can get emotional if I feel like it. “Yes pregnant lady,” everyone seems to say to me, “Anything your heart desires.” Oh really?! Well then I don’t want to wait in line, I’m going to flake out on our date at the last-minute because suddenly I don’t feel like going out, and I don’t care if everyone wants to eat vegan food tonight, I need some meat!
By being clumped with an identifiable group, pregnancy has somehow given me a more effective voice. People want to know what I want and what I need. It’s given me renewed confidence to state my desires without hesitance because when people know what you are, they pay more attention to you because of their expectations. They want to see their hopes and fears in what you represent come alive and can’t wait for you to fulfill them. Thing is, as I’m encouraged to express myself more, people around me are finding that I am far from anything they had in mind for a pregnant lady.
To the shock of gym members I work out 5 days a week not swimming or just doing yoga, but Boot Camp and basic weight training; I still accompany my husband and friends to bars and clubs and have a glass of wine from time to time; my clothing is still as revealing, although much more comfortable; if the ground is level enough and my feet don’t hurt, I wear platform high heel shoes; and a few weeks ago I performed at The Echo with some comedians I met at SF Sketchfest earlier this year. I showed up as the ex tambourine girl of a really bad metal band named Sad Vicious. And although pregnant she still believes she must show off her midriff to hype up the crowd. And hype them up I did.
At first no one believed the pregnancy jokes I was playing up, like bathroom breaks and snacking onstage, because no one expected to see a pregnant woman actually perform at a rock club. And then my stomach came out. Scary for a moment yes, but going onstage and flaunting a far from flat stomach was thrilling, freeing and dare I say it like an old-school feminist? Empowering. I could see the stunned faces in the crowd. Still holding their beers, no one seemed sure if it was safe to have another sip just yet. And then, only a few seconds later, cheers went up. They loved it. I loved it too. After performing, one man in the audience who got onstage on all fours to act as a chair for me before I lifted my shirt, apologized, “I didn’t know you were really pregnant!” As if being pregnant would have kept me from sitting on his back long enough to put on my stiletto heels. And women in the crowd kept approaching me afterwards to say how excited they were to see me do what I did. One after another these 20-something year old girls gushed about how they couldn’t wait to be pregnant and asked me if it was as wonderful as they dreamed it might be. “I have no idea,” I told them, “But it sure is fun.”