[WARNING: THIS POST INCLUDES GRAPHIC DETAILS ABOUT BODILY FUNCTIONS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.]
Randy and I were one of the very lucky few couples who got pregnant with very little effort, and for that I am really grateful. Like, eternally, exceedingly grateful. We had a conversation about maybe possibly being ready to think about talking about considering trying to get pregnant at some point in the relatively nearish future if the mood struck us and the time was right, and five minutes later I was knocked up. When the stick (and each stick after that) stared back at us with its glaringly positive plus sign, my first reaction was utter relief. As a 34-year-old woman who often suffers from anxiety about nothing that matters, I was thrilled to avoid months of hand-wringing over something that did matter. Like, hot damn, we really dodged that bullet. My very next reaction was, OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE WE DONE.
That second feeling has more or less lingered for the duration of the pregnancy. As I understand it, it’s pretty common for new moms to feel that way, so I try to take it in stride and tell myself this new and completely unanticipated kind of anxiety (yay anxiety!) is just one of the many uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy that should indicate to me that all is going exactly as it should. It turns out that’s a mantra that needs repeating a lot, because the list of uncomfortable symptoms is VERY LONG, and the minute I sort of get used to one symptom and begin to think I can totally handle this whole pregnancy thing, that symptom subsides (thank you, baby jesus!) and a new one pops up (why, baby jesus, WHY). So here, in probably chronological order as far as I can recall — which isn’t saying a lot because pregnancy brain is a thing and I have it — is an accounting of some of the fun things you have to look forward to should you ever find yourself in the family way and/or you can celebrate having avoided if you are one of those people who somehow knows better than to do this to yourself.
This is real. It is a real thing. It is a real thing that exists in real life and it has had a major impact on everything from remembering to brush my teeth, to remembering my phone number, to remembering where I live, to remembering what other things I forgot, because it’s real. It’s so real, in fact, that about a month or so ago I started up this here blog and then promptly forgot I did that. That will happen again, I have no doubt. In the meantime, does anyone know whether I brushed my teeth today? Please and thank you.
It’s true what they say: morning sickness is not just confined to mornings and as such would be more aptly named “horrifying things that happen to your body at very inopportune times sickness.” Morning sickness can be triggered by certain foods or strong smells or nothing at all, and it’s every bit as unpleasant as any one of your 30s-era hangovers but without the benefit of actually having had any tequila in your face. My primary trigger was public restrooms, and because another uncomfortable symptom of pregnancy is having to pee basically every third minute, I have spent more time in public restrooms in the past seven months than in all of my previous 35 years combined. Needing to pee + public restroom smells + nausea usually resulted in having to make some hard choices, like, which bodily fluid is going in the toilet / sink / trash can / whateverreceptacleisavailable, and which one is going on the floor?
I am a very emotional person when I’m not pregnant, so it has been difficult to determine whether the emotionalism I have experienced the last several months has been pregnancy related or just par for the course in life with a crazy person.
At first, Randy declared that my hysteria was typical for me, but then my meltdowns took on a whole new patina — like that one time we were driving and I picked a fight with him for not being sensitive enough to the fact that I really needed a cinnamon roll, an argument so upsetting that it triggered my morning sickness and he had to pull over so I could sob-vomit on the side of the road, terrifying neighbors and passersby who made 180 degree turns on the sidewalk to avoid me – at which point he was forced to acknowledge that pregnancy-level insanity was in fact uncharted territory for us both. I like to believe that symptom has subsided and that I have been pretty normal since about the end of the first trimester, but then again, pregnancy brain is still a thing I have.
Fortunately, sleepiness and exhaustion are most troublesome during the first trimester (because they are quickly replaced by sleeplessness, which is not better). During those first few months of baby building, my body would be like, this is hard, peace out bitches, and I would promptly fall asleep. It literally did not matter one iota whether I was sitting, standing or operating heavy machinery; when it was time to sleep (which was always), sleep I would do. I fell asleep standing up at a rock show on my birthday, I fell asleep in the middle of an epic meltdown over nothing important, I fell asleep on a videoconference call for a meeting I was leading. My therapist told me that when she was pregnant, she fell asleep on a New York City park bench in the dead of winter, and my only reaction to that was, yeah, that seems right. You gotta do you, sister.
Now that sleep is as elusive as ever, and as we look forward to months and months and months of sleep deprivation after baby comes, I look back and think, I don’t know why I was such a pansy about something as insignificant as falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. Sigh. The good ole days.
Oh nothing, just a million tiny daggers stabbing my esophagus relentlessly for hours on end, no big deal. Heartburn laughs in the face of morning sickness and exhaustion and sleeplessness and sciatica and moodiness and carpal tunnel syndrome and cravings and stretch marks and heavy boobs. SHE LAUGHS. “Oh you think it’s uncomfortable vomiting on the floor of the airplane bathroom while you struggle with your support tights until ultimately you pee yourself? LOLOLOL,” says heartburn, “LOLOLOLOL.” At no point would I have believed you if you told me heartburn is the single most uncomfortable symptom of pregnancy forever and ever amen to eternity and beyond, and I might not have heeded your warnings about pickled jalapeños either, but if you had said those things to me, you would have been right and I would have been a sad, miserable fool for not believing you.
Hear me now: should you find yourself in the family way and your baby daddy has a remarkably full head of hair for a man his age (for whatever reason, these things are related), step away from the jalapeños. And the onions. And the garlic. And the bananas? Yes, and the bananas. You will thank me. Or you will find yourself investing in Mylanta futures like we did.
Pure, Unadulterated Joy
Above all else, the most commonly occurring symptom is sheer bliss. I regularly find myself feeling ecstatically, undeniably, exceedingly, legitimately happy. When I fell in love with Randy, I told myself, this is it, it doesn’t get better than this, this is what life is all about. I had no idea it could be that good and I was near-constantly amazed by the bliss I felt from finding the exact right person to spend my life with. But then we got pregnant, and we heard the baby’s heart beat, and we saw it do somersaults in my belly, and we felt it tap dancing on my innards, all of which have resulted in an almost unbearable flood of pure, unadulterated joy, and suddenly it was like WHOA, this shit gets BETTER?