Posted by: thatjen | December 3, 2005

Darwin Never Got Pregnant…

…but he WAS onto something.

I have spent a lot of this pregnancy thinking about evolution. Perhaps because it’s been in the media a lot; probably just because I am a geek. In the first few months my primary thought was, “Pregnancy doesn’t make any evolutionary SENSE! I feel like crap. If I were a cavewoman I could get killed by a mastodon really easily!”

However, the longer this goes on, the more I realize that there IS some evolutionary logic to pregnancy. (Oh, if you’re my evolutionary biologist friend, you should probably stop reading this now. Or two paragraphs ago. This is just the kind of unscientific rambling about evolution that you HATE. Sorry.) Much of the process of pregnancy is preparing you for what lies ahead. (Don’t worry, adoptive moms, none of it’s rocket science. It’s all stuff one would figure out pretty quickly.) Here’s what my body has tried to teach me so far:

1. Just slow down. Those who know me in real life know that I am never happier than when multitasking and zooming through life at 180 MPH. No longer. The first trimester took that right out of me and I haven’t gotten it quite back. And in case my second trimester energy burst (which, by the way is a lot more myth than reality, IMO, as I don’t feel energetic per se, I just need fewer than 13 hours of sleep these days) might lead me back into my old frantic ways, I now literally need to slow down, as most of the time when I walk faster than a geriatric shuffle, I’m struck with intense pain that can honestly stop me in my tracks. I went for a walk by the Zoo today and was lapped by everyone I saw, including people with double strollers, canes, and crutches. While I was intensely frustrated, I did discover that there was a lot of beauty below my feet in Rock Creek Park that I’d never noticed before. It’s all prep for trying to get out the door with an infant or hurry a distractable toddler.

2a. Know where all of the tolerable public bathrooms are. Pregnancy = peeing. I have gotten to know more public restrooms in the DC area than in my entire life put together, and some of them are doggone nasty. If I hesitated to use them myself, imagine my squeamishness at taking kid who’s just learning to use the toilet. Ick.

2b. Never pass up a bathroom opportunity. However, skipping a bathroom opportunity can have uncomfortable consequences for an adult; disastrous for a kid. So I’ve learned never, ever, to turn down the chance to use a restroom, particularly if said facilities are clean and convenient.

3. Always have an emergency snack. Or six. I’m currently eating pretty much hourly.* The lunchbag I pack each morning has grown exponentially and now includes a morning snack, a lunch, an afternoon snack, an emergency snack, and sometimes a late afternoon snack. This is in addition to the rations in my desk drawer for dire circumstances, and the strategic stashes in the car. But as unpleasant as a cranky, hungry pregnant woman can be (and just ask Cait if you need help imagining that one) a cranky, hungry baby will be infinitely worse.

4. It never hurts to have extra clothes. I’m already clumsy and prone to spilling things and dropping food on my clothes. The more body and clothing surface area I have, the worse it gets. Suffice to say that my instant stain stick is now my new best friend. I don’t actually keep extra clothes on hand at work, but I may move in that direction soon. Extra clothes won’t be optional with a baby, of course, so I might as well get in the habit now.

5. Sleep is very, very good. Of course, as we all know, this one is cruel, since I’m getting more sleep now than I will ever again in YEARS. But my more pregnant friends tell me that the evolutionary preparation should kick in within the next month or so, as I will lose the ability to sleep longer than 45 minutes without having to get up and go to the bathroom. Which is a good lead in to life with a newborn, from what I hear.

6. You can’t do it alone. I’m a pretty independent person, but having a kid works a lot better if you’ve got a lot of support and connections. We’ve made a lot of new friends, and connected with old ones in new ways, during the process of getting and staying pregnant. I know our friends and family will be very, very helpful in preserving our sanity once the kid gets here.

Heck, it’s even made me get closer to my mom, and if that’s not evolution, I don’t know what is.

*And hating it. Which shocks me. I love to eat, and if you’d ever told me I could eat hourly and be miserable I would have told you you were an idiot. But eating HEALTHY food hourly, whether I am in the mood or place to eat gets old REALLY fast.



  1. I’ve ALWAYS been a fan of knowing where the GOOD public restrooms are.
    I find that hotels are good options. As are book stores and Starbucks.

    But hotels, man, they rock!

  2. Well said! I never really thought about all the things I now do on a daily basis because I am pregnant as preparation for motherhood, but it totally makes sense. I am learning to mother my child by learning to mother myslef…

  3. And then there’s the fact that the final last month or two of pregnancy are so uncomfortable that you lose all fear of labor because you just want that baby OUT and your body back…

  4. Eating all the time is the biggest pain in my ass.

  5. This list rocks. I’m printing it out.

    And I’m also going to get a snack. And pee.

  6. I don’t see why your friend would be upset, evolution really means adaptation and does this sound like adapting to me! Well done. mostly, yes?

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