I’ve heard some women say that they just “knew” they were pregnant because they felt a fluttering sensation like butterflies in their belly. How did I “know” I was pregnant? My first symptom with both my son and my daughter was a sudden and perpetual bloody nose. Welcome to the most beautiful and least glamorous nine months of your life.
My sudden need to shove tissue up my nose is a perfect example that pregnancy does bizarre things to our bodies. Some things we were aware of when we signed up to grow a person and other things come as a complete surprise.
Pickles and ice cream. While pregnant with my daughter, I told my husband that I specifically needed a strawberry milkshake from our local fast food restaurant. Since it was pushing midnight, he suggested that I just make a milkshake with the mint chocolate chip we had in the freezer. I can’t recall exactly what I said in response, but it was something along the lines of growling like a bear. Pregnancy cravings are real and good enough is never good enough. As long as you’re having a salad as often as you indulge, you’re fine by my standards.
No shame! I managed to carry my son for nine months and still feel relatively lady like. That all changed during delivery when I ran shamelessly down the hall to my delivery room in a hospital gown that wasn’t tied well in the back. You’re going to make weird noises, smells, you’ll probably develop a weird rash or two and chances are the pregnant glow you’re expecting will just be sweat. It’s all in preparation for months of smelling like spitup (and not caring).
Sleep? What’s that? All you want to do is sleep, but getting comfortable is a long process. Then you get comfy and you have to get up to empty your bladder. On the bright side, months of tossing and turning prepares you for weeks of pulling all-nighters with your newborn.
I feel like I’m forgetting something. Maybe it’s your name, our lunch date, what labor feels like or even my own name, be prepared to lose track of everything. If you just happen to be naturally forgetful like me, consider this your nine month free pass to be forgetful. You’re welcome.
Paranoid, party of one. Every muscle spasm will send you running (OK, walking cautiously because you wouldn’t want to endanger your developing child) to the computer for immediate reassurance that some woman somewhere has had the same symptom, survived and delivered a healthy baby. That healthy paranoia will eventually translate to concerned parenting.
Take five. I feel like I’m normally in pretty good shape, and even though I exercised throughout both pregnancies, I still needed a solid two minutes to get off of the couch only to get winded and need to sit down again. The silver lining is that even though you feel exhausted, your body really is stronger (think of all that extra weight you’re toting around). Exercising during pregnancy can make losing the baby weight easier and some say will even help you get in better shape post-baby than you were pre-baby.
It’s not me; it’s the hormones. My husband’s been to war. He’s seen some stuff, I’m sure, but I’ve never seen fear come over him the way it did when I went from laughing with him to yelling at him for loading the dishwasher wrong to crying because I put dirty dishes in the clean dishwasher which obviously meant I was going to be a terrible mother.
One—OK all—of these pregnancy side effects can be painful or, at the very least, irritating. But they’re temporary. They teach us that we can handle much more than we ever thought we could and that will come in handy for that little thing around the corner, childbirth, and the 18 years that follow. You’ll spend nine months crossing days off the calendar, wishing your belly would get bigger and then wishing you could see your feet again. You’ll inevitably curse pregnancy at some point, but it turns us into mothers, which is pretty amazing, so it’s hard to write it off completely.