Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Preferential Treatment

A new cultural experience I'm about to embark on is the 'Pregnant Lady in Brazil' experience.  In Canada, pregnant women exist (obviously) but, in my experience, they aren't fawned over nor do the seas part when a pregnant lady walks into a room.  Pregnant women, in turn, do not expect such treatment (at least I don't think they do).

In Brazil, pregnant women are like Goddesses, carrying the Miracle of Life in their pouches.  The Law even bows to pregnant women, as it's actually the LAW that Preggos can move straight to the front of any line (name a line - the bank? Yes. A crowded 5-star restaurant? Yes. A food bank? You can count on it.)  They get the preferential seats on the bus and they also get to line up in the preferential lines at the grocery store (and probably move to the front of that line even! They can trump any line!)

The reason I've been thinking about this lately is because I just don't have this natural instinct in me, to finally take advantage of this special treatment.  I recently spent the weekend with a good friend who happens to be 7 months pregnant.  She fully pulled out her pregnancy card everywhere we went (btw, if you are with said pregnant woman, you ALSO get to butt the line!)  She even pulled out the "it's the law!" card.  She told me that since the beginning, she has carried her ultrasound photo around with her taking advantage of her right wherever she goes!

I find this shocking simply because I admire her guts!  I guess I've been a little conditioned to believe that pregnancy isn't an illness, and therefore shouldn't award you special treatment.  I had to come to terms with this change in perception after moving here but I can honestly say that I love this law.  I love the way Brazilian culture looks out for its citizens who are a little less-than-able (that goes for seniors as well as pregnant women).  For a culture that I perceive to be so "everyone for him or herself", Brazilians have really pulled together to respect this courtesy and make sure others respect it too.

It makes me a little sad to know that I won't be staying here to fully experience this huge gesture of kindness (we are moving back to Canada to have our baby -  more on that in another blog).  In fact, it was slightly distressing to me to speak to a Canadian friend who told me that she parks in the 'Expectant Mothers' reserved parking spots because "pregnancy isn't an illness."  News flash.  Neither is old age.  Should we take away their spots too?

I'm not taking one opinion and turning it into the opinion of an entire country - I trust my loveable Canadians that they wouldn't do that!  But I'm curious to know if other expats were surprised/annoyed/un-phased by this pretty strict law??  I did find it a little shocking since it's about the ONLY law that all Brazilians really abide by.... I mean, we all know that nobody respects traffic laws!  Similarly, have any Brazilians had any interesting experiences being pregnant outside of Brazil? 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Breaking News

Sometimes things are so unbelievably new and exciting that I can't talk about them here.  Primarily, because it's important that I talk to my family about these novidades in person, so they don't have to find out about them in digital ink.  
So, two months since my last blog.  And in the last two months my life has taken on a completely new direction.  My apologies for anyone who was missing my blogs - I was! - but now that I've talked about everything with our families I can finally go back to putting my thoughts on this hypothetical page.

So, the big news is I'm pregnant!  Three months pregnant, to be exact.  Turns out that I was already pregnant during Carnaval (albeit only, like, a week - but still... whoops!) Went out with a bang there...

I find it strange that almost every Brazilian person I tell about my pregnancy follows up directly with "Was it planned?"  Pardon?  Was it planned?  What an oddly personal question that does not go against my expectations of Brazilian culture at all.  So, ok, yes it was planned.  And if it wasn't?  Would I get a look of pity??  I might start saying it wasn't, just as an experiment.

I also have to add an aside here:  I know NOTHING about babies, pregnancy, giving birth, normal reactions towards pregnant women, etc., etc.... so if I am slightly shocked by some of these 'oddities' but you think they are apparently normal, please feel free to enlighten me.  I'm really only basing things on how I would react to a pregnant woman.  Not that I have even personally known that many, so therein lies the problem (probably).

The next thing that people almost automatically do is touch my belly.  It's like being pregnant automatically removes your 'personal space shield' and it's a free-for-all for anyone who wants to touch you.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  On one hand it's kind of comforting, on the other hand my inner conscious screams "STOP! THIS IS MY BODY! I AM MORE THAN A GIANT BELLY!"  But people would probably disagree with that so it's best to just let it happen.

So, as I said, I'm totally dumb about pregnancy.  I've never had a close friend have a baby, never even a family member whose pregnancy I got to experience.  I think the last time I even held a baby was when I was about 10 years old.  So, there are some things happening to me that I didn't know to expect...

1. INSANE EXHAUSTION.  Holy freaking hell.  I was so so tired during the first 3 months that I slept at every possible opportunity (and I'm talking for like 3-4 hours, and that was AFTER sleeping 8-10 hours at night).  Another reason I stopped blogging. 

2. INSANE HOT FLASHES.  Meaning the 'flash' lasted all day, everyday.  I was never not sweating like a fat, sweaty man and add to it that Rio has been going through a giant disgusting heat wave for the last 2 months.  I was in my own personal hell and thank god that part is over.  

3. HORRIBLE HEADACHES.  I am having what the doctor (and by doctor, I mean Internet) calls "tension headaches".  They squeeze my head on the sides and leave me feeling totally debilitated.  To make it worse, I can't take any medicine while preggers.  (Also didn't know that I couldn't take over-the-counter medicine... ugggh)

4. MY BODY IS LITERALLY WIDENING.  Yes, Danielle.  LITERALLY.  I noticed it about 3 weeks ago that the circumference of my hips was actually broader.  My husband noticed too (he was totally more excited that I was).  Oh, and thanks to that my pants don't fit anymore.

5. WILD, CRAZY DREAMS.  I repeat, wild, CRAZY, dreams.  Vivid.  Allllllllllll about pregnancy, giving birth, breast feeding, my relationship with my mom and my dad... and are we seeing a theme here? 

6. HAIR GROWTH.  Oh, yes.  We've heard the stories that pregnancy gives you a beautiful head of hair.  I guess they conveniently forgot to mention that the hair grows EVERYWHERE else too.  Even my eyebrows are growing faster than normal.  And where I could usually go 5-6 weeks between waxing, now I'm an every month kinda girl.  (Not that I am going anymore anyway!  It's waaaay too sensitive down there!)  (P.S. Before you say ok TMI Lindsey, I have vowed to give as much information about this pregnancy to spare others from being surprised like I have been!)

7. DOUBTS.  For me, there has also been some guilt because I started to doubt if I was really ready for a baby, ready to be a mother, etc etc.  I guess it's normal, but there is this expectation for women to be SO thrilled and overjoyed all the time at the idea of being pregnant.  Throw some raging hormones into the mix and you're not always so confident in your decision...

For now those have been the biggest mysteries unfolded.  I'm preeetty sure there will be many more fun surprises and I caannnn't wait! (there is a great need for a sarcasm font!)  The good news is, I'm back!

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