When I found myself in the backseat of my parents' car opening a bottle of Coke with my teeth, my hands occupied keeping Olivia nomming on my boob, hoping none of the other JC Penny shoppers happened to peer curiously through the car's tinted windows, I realized two things. One: I had lost what little was left of any dignity I might have had. And two: I did not care.
The reason for the first is simple. Pregnancy is arguably the least private event in a woman's life. As soon as that bump begins to show, you may as well add thirty minutes to your estimated time doing anything in public, because at least fifty percent of the other women in the world have something to tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, and/or children that you definitely have never heard before, ever.
But even before it becomes noticeable, pregnant women require more maintenance than a used Ford. Even if you have no risk factors or complications, there will at least be monthly check-ups for the entire pregnancy. But that's often not the case; for two-thirds of my pregnancy, I was going in once a week, and I had only one complication, and an otherwise relatively easy pregnancy. By the time everything was said and done, I had a baby, and about ten people I am not married to had what I'm sure is a nice mental image of an area of my body I don't particularly want to look closely at myself. After a few more days, enough people had seen my boobs I hardly thought twice about flashing the room when the baby started crying. Now, I have to really try to remember to warn people beforehand, and it's hard--I mean, what am I supposed to say? "Pardon me while I whip out my boobs?" I don't particularly care if anyone sees them at this point. My boobs have ceased being "sexy;" now, they're "functional."
I have significantly lowered the bar for myself when it comes to appearance. Before Olivia came along, I couldn't go anywhere without applying a bit of mascara, at the very least. Now I usually don't even realize I'm not wearing make-up until I've been out a few hours, and it doesn't bother me to look at myself in the mirror without any on. I do well just to make it out the door with enough clothing to evade arrest.
But I don't care. Because there's someone else who needs more than I do--more attention, more care, more food and sleep and love. And if those things come at the expense of my dignity, well, what goes around...