Asking for Help in the 3rd Trimester
by Erin Bagwell, Founder of Feminist Wednesday
Co-host of BeaverTalk
Article edited by Diana Matthews
In the beginning of my pregnancy I tried to not ask for anything - other than for my morning sickness to magically disappear.
Much like the narrative of being a bridezilla, I heard horror stories about what a nightmare pregnant women can be.
So I tried to take up as little space as possible as I stood on the subway, got up quietly in the middle of the night to be sick in the bathroom alone, and put my own suitcase in the overhead bin on a flight. I wanted to make myself small despite how awful I was feeling physically.
However when I shifted into my third trimester, my body started to change almost overnight.
One evening after walking a few miles in the city, the ligaments in my thigh muscles painfully tightened and I could barely walk. It was as if my body said “that’s enough for today” and shut down.
Thankfully, my husband Sal was with me and I threw an arm around his shoulder and we hobbled home together.
Since then I’ve had to incorporate a number of awkward stretches into my morning routine. When I leave the house, I have to wear a supportive belly belt to help distribute the extra weight I have to make sure I’m not crushing my pelvic floor.
As a founder of a small company, I’ve needed to be thoughtful about how many in-person meetings I can take, how many networking events I can attend and generally be more decisive about how I manage my energy. Since most of the stress is put on my body during the day, I sometimes ride the train home at night like Cinderella, waiting to turn into a pumpkin.
I also realized that, like many of the narratives in our culture that aim to make women feel ashamed for their emotions or experiences, asking for help doesn’t make you needy or entitled - it makes you human.
Last week I joined my fellow patriots in line to vote in the midterm elections. The line was probably an hour or so long and slow moving. I didn’t think much of it until an organizer approached me and my giant baby bump and asked if I wanted to skip the line.
My Catholic guilt set in and I paused for a beat before I decided to get over my shame and waddled after him to the front of the line. I might have been able to stand for a couple of hours to vote, but I really didn’t need to put the strain on my legs if I wanted to be able to use them later.
I triumphantly made my way to the front of the line when a woman craned her neck towards me and venomously shouted at me, asking if I was skipping the line. I quietly told her I was eight months pregnant and the organizer said I could. She stormed away before I finished, clearly not looking for an answer but rather, just wanting to make me feel like shit.
And she succeeded.
I took the walk of shame to my voting booth and tried to finish up the process as quickly as possible. I felt bad for the rest of the day. The levity of my small victory now felt like a rock on top of my shoulders.
But if I’m being honest I would have skipped the line again.
Carrying an extra 25 pounds and growing a person inside of you is no breezy task. It takes up space, demands your energy, and is a constant learning process of listening to and allowing your body to take what it needs.
I’m not cutting corners or being weak, I’m eight months pregnant. Every day I navigate the tricky and unknown journey I’m on, tackling whatever strange new symptom pops up. My job is to take care of myself, so I know my little girl is taken care of as well.
So now whether I’m on the subway or traveling for work, I drop the fear of the pregnant-zilla narrative and ask for help.
This soon-to-be-mama still has places to be but I am not interested in carrying around the guilt of an outdated patriarchal narrative in addition to my growing bundle.