Assisted living

As any natural-childbirth person will tell you (while they’re kindly informing you that accepting pain relief will surely leave you an incontinent paraplegic), pregnancy is not an illness. However, what nobody will tell you before you get pregnant is that it is a disability.

Because of my disability, my birthday wish list is drastically different from those of previous, carefree years.

You may recall that, since Week 26 when the baby turned head-down, I have been coveting the Hoverounds often sported by elderly folk. Now that she has gained about four pounds and dropped, it is even more clear to me that I should have some sort of special placard on my car.

Let’s count the ways pregnant women resemble people with officially recognized disabilities.

1. The elderly and the physically challenged are slow-moving. Well, let me just say that when I was swimming laps at the aquatic center last week, the 92-pound grannies were swimming circles around me, their gnarled talons flailing past like (relatively) crazy windmills as I struggled with each laborious stroke to move forward instead of sink like a rock. As for getting out of the pool, I can only say that I’m really lucky it’s a graduated pool and you can literally walk out of the shallow end. Getting out of a normal pool would have been impossible without a chairlift.

My lack of mobility also manifests itself when I arise from my bed or a chair, both of which take 5 minutes if no one is there to help, and when I am shopping. It is not a pretty thing when arthritic nonagenarians glare contemptuously at you in the mall because you are walking too slowly and holding them up.

2. It’s not just a matter of speed for the elderly and physically challenged, though; every movement is excruciatingly painful. Apparently, this is true in the last weeks of the third trimester as well, although everyone I know who has given birth conveniently forgot to tell me this until after Chris and I conceived our little pelvis-cracker.

One would think that the back and rib pain would be bad enough, but Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, decided that rather than equipping women to pop out babies without our hips having to loosen up, it would be amusing if our pelvises were to spend the last month or two of pregnancy slowly disintegrating. Thus, each step threatens to pull our hips out of our sockets, and the baby feels like it’s going to crack through the pubic bone at any second.

Fortunately, the people who design parking lots realize that pregnancy can be as crippling as arthritis and have come up with an excellent invention called “Stork Parking.” Situated right near the handicapped parking spots, new- and expectant-mother parking spots allow giant, uncomfortable women to cut hours off the time it takes them to make the painful waddle from their car to the much-needed food inside the grocery store. I love you, person who invented Stork Parking!

3. Now, if only they would designate Stork Bathroom Stalls! I have found myself using handicapped stalls simply because:
a) My bladder sometimes just cannot wait for a regular toilet to open up (which very nearly necessitates another old-folk and disability hallmark, the adult diaper) and
b) when I turn to grab some toilet paper, my belly turns with me and smacks the T.P. holder. Then the baby gives my bladder a retaliatory jab and I have to pee some more. Clearly I have grown too big to fit in a normal stall!

4. Not only do I covet old and disabled folks’ large, usually unoccupied toilets, along with Hoverounds and chair lifts. I also have finally figured out why they buy those silly reacher/grabber things — it’s HARD to bend over when you’re painfully creaky. Even more so when there is a giant beach ball to bend around. Every time I drop something — which is often, because pregnant people are clumsy — I wish I had one of these handy (if dorky and unsightly) contraptions.

And just yesterday, as I was painstakingly creeping up the stairs, trying desperately to inflict minimal misery upon my back and at the same time trying not to hurt my hips, I realized I had either dropped to a new low in assistive-technology envy or just been hit by a stroke of genius.

The latest third-trimester accessory I crave? The ultimate in arthritic-granny comforts — my very own stair lift!

Yeah, I may not need an epidural, but I definitely need something to help me get around, retrieve the things I drop, and ascend the stairs. (Right now, that something is named Chris and is probably tired of lugging around a massive, practically paraplegic preggie.) If anyone has a spare stair lift or Hoveround they’d like to donate, my birthday is April 29. Although believe you me, at this stage in the pregnancy it is not my birthday I’m looking forward to!

Coming soon: Week 36 belly shots. Only four weeks to go! (Or one, if I go just barely to term, or six, if Dr. Goncalves has to induce.)

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