There’s Pee On That, Dude: Why Pregnancy Tropes Aren’t Sexy IRL
By Kayti McGee
The royal wedding may be over, God Save the Duchess of Sussex, but the royal baby-watch has only just begun. Already the tabloids are speculating just how quickly Meghan Markle and Prince Ginger can catch up to Kate & Wills. And I don’t just mean by popping out three of the cutest dang kids to ever grace England’s fair shores. Kate Middleton has set a precedent for post-partum that strikes horror into the hearts of women everywhere.
It wasn’t enough for Meghan to shatter tradition by becoming the first black American commoner to marry into British royalty. No, she’ll also be expected to have her hair and makeup done, shimmy into a designer dress and display herself and her newborn to the press within hours of childbirth.
Myself, I could hardly face the nurses, much less a press conference.
Women of the world, we must stand up and fight.
Where better to start than by looking at romance novels? Okay, yeah, it’s super romantic to create a new life with your alpha billionaire football player prince. But the romance only goes so far.
Starting with the pregnancy test. There’s pee on that, dude. Why are you two huddled over it? Or gently handing it off to each other? Or gift-wrapping it? Hard nope in the romance department. Unless pee is your kink, no judgies in that case, but if it isn’t then stop treating that little pee-stick like a piece of fine jewelry. Save that for the ultrasound pics.
You know who didn’t fall into the romantic pregnancy trap? Julia Kent, in Shopping For a Billionaire’s Baby. She describes her portrayal of pregnancy as “inelegant,” which is such a kind way to put the experience that most women have.
As Emma Hart, author of The Dating Experiment, says, “no one told me how much vomit there would be,” or how your hips click in and out of place as you waddle around. You know why she didn’t know? Because she read books like mine. That’s right. I guiltily must admit that my pregnancy book, Hands Off, has a sexy pregnant lady who never gets heartburn so bad she accidentally vomits in bed. My heroine is a curvy girl already, so her body just blossoms into gentle fullness, the way I describe it.
In real life, you probably need a private chef, personal trainer, four naps a day, and a vat of cocoa butter to maintain the illusion that growing a human is effortless.
Oh, and how about all the times the baby kicks and the couple coos over it? That’s only true for the first few kicks. By the third trimester, visible feet and hands slide unnervingly around your stomach, distracting and horrifying anyone who comes into contact with you who has also ever seen the movie Alien.
And that’s just the pregnancy part.
Carrie Ann Ryan’s mother still cannot try on hats with her without gazing upon poor Carrie’s noggin and murmering, “five stiches, Carrie Ann. Five.” Perhaps that’s why she also puts a more realistic version of pregnancy in her book Ink Enduring. Who knows what her mother would say if she didn’t.
Another author friend who shall not be named had a midwife elbow-deep handling a fetal heart monitor. Where, pray tell, is the romance in her husband seeing that? Or a placenta for that matter. Although useful and necessary for the baby, they are less so for sex appeal.
And once you finally get out of the mesh panties, you discover your feet became little planks, and none of your cute shoes fit anymore. Nor will they ever again. Those stretch marks are permanent, no matter how many lotions claim to fade them into oblivion.
But Laurelin Paige’s character Hudson, in Fixed Forever, speaks of Alayna’s post-baby body as a glorious thing of wonder.
Can this be a thing we all agree to do?
If you suffered through the horrorshow of pregnancy and childbirth — whether like Melanie Harlow, the whole process was like Snow White twirling through the woods or like Karla Sorenson, you were not informed your nose would swell to twice its normal size — you are a thing of wonder. And your own personal alpha billionaire football player prince better be telling you so every time you sidle past in your yoga pants and spit-up covered shirt to devour Adriana Locke’s Lucky Number Eleven between diaper blow-outs.
But don’t any of you dare putting on makeup and Vuittons and making the rest of us look bad.
Because no matter how we gloss over the realities of pregnancy in our books, even romance writers know that’s taking it too far.
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About the Author
Kayti McGee is livin’ deliciously in Kansas City, Missouri. She writes romance, loves binge-watching murder shows and her favorite fictional bad boys are always played by Tom Hiddleston in her head.
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