The skin I live in

I don’t know why I associate this post with a disturbing Antonio Banderas film, but once I had thought of it, I just couldn’t let it go…

Because I want to talk about bodies, and who owns our bodies during pregnancy and whose responsibility our bodies are while pregnant. You see, I’m quite the ardent feminist – determined to be independent, free-thinking and all those other things Destiny’s Child wants me to be (before Beyonce decided we all needed to get married). And in those crazy carefree days before conception, I was determined that I owned my body and although others could state an opinion, it was my right to do what I wanted with my own body and I would not be controlled, especially by Fred. Luckily Fred isn’t really the controlling type, he only gets upset when I decide I am fed up of long hair and cut it all off and that I never tell him when I’m going to do it. Because it’s my hair and I do what I want! Ha!

WARNING! The following post contains images that may be disturbing to vegetarians.

But then the stork comes, and suddenly your carefully constructed individual self is caught on the waves of social opinion and latest research and medics that tell you what to do or not do, and what to eat or not eat, and that alcohol is evil, and that if you make a mistake you will be the one whose baby is born with three heads. It was YOU. It was all YOUR fault. If it hadn’t been for that pesky hollandaise you forgot contained raw eggs when scoffing an eggs benedict for brunch, then everything would have been ok.

Suddenly pregnant, Society becomes much more interested in you, in trying to control you. You are public property and if you go against the grain then YOU are putting your baby at risk.

And what of the boy? What’s his role in this? Nothing. Do partners of pregnant women get told to cut down on their drink, or get more exercise, or sleep better or eat better? No. Despite these all being useful things to do that would probably make them a more energetic and engaged father, they get off scot-free. And if there is something wrong? Unless there is a genetic marker to implicate the father, then they barely get treated as an accomplice in the trial of what went wrong.

I don’t think this is fair. I don’t want either the joys or tribulations of gestation foisted onto me. I want a partnership – from the deed to birth and onwards till they’ve won an Oscar and bought Mummy and Daddy a yacht. So that means Daddy need to step up.

The unpasteurised cheese episode started with a dinner Fred threw for his teams – a feast of a meal (Fred doesn’t do things by halves) with beer and wine flowing into the night. The battle lines were drawn with the main meal – a suckling pig, whole. Although I know it’s double standards, I just don’t think I need to see my food whole, and I certainly feel uncomfortable watching a baby pig roasting in an oven when I am incubating my own baby.

Then there was the starter… the Vacherin. Cooked whole and then communally dipped into. So the two sides of the argument that were held later were:

  • For the Prosecution: It is reasonable to assume that if one is pregnant and your husband hunts down food for a group of you to eat, that said food will have been selected knowing that you are pregnant and hence is safe to eat! If not safe for you to eat, the expectation is that said husband will have provided an alternative (melted babybels for example), so if there is no alternative, again that is evidence that the food has been researched and is safe to eat (perhaps because it has been heated sufficiently to undermine the evils of unpasteurisation)
  • For The Defence: Said pregnant woman should not believe the world revolves around them. If organising a party for 15 people, the foodstuff should be selected which will be enjoyed excessively by the maximum number of people. Pregnant woman should know and remember what she can and can’t eat, and not eat things she can’t.

Cue full-on temper tantrum not witnessed since the 1990s.
This was not the only one of such incidents – a pact was required.

In the Pact, I gave up responsibility for my body. I declared that while the alien was on board, my body was the joint responsibility of me and Fred. If I was doing something he thought would harm the alien, he had to try and stop me from doing it (preferably using gentle persuasion as the first preferred method of communication over rugby tackling me to the ground). He could no longer wait until later that night to reprimand me in order to avoid embarrassment earlier on. The stakes were too high for me to learn from my mistakes, I needed to not make the mistakes in the first place. Of course he couldn’t stop me from making bad judgement calls out of his sights, and in those cases I would be back in charge, but in the meantime he has shares in my body.

Perhaps this wouldn’t work if Fred was more controlling by nature, perhaps evil Fred would have become an dictator telling me when to eat and when to sleep. But given Fred is Fred it works. I feel less like Atlas and Fred, well he’s just that bit more cautious about pasteurised cheese…


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