Back in March, I looked at my partner of six years and nonchalantly told him: "I think I'm ready to have a baby. You down with that?" There was quite a bit of back and forth, and after some intense negotiations we agreed to give it a solid try (side note: one of my true life regrets is not paying attention to how I actually talked him into this because you know that skill is invaluable).
We had been told it could take years to get pregnant. After all, they had thought I might be entering menopause just a few years ago. So you can imagine our surprise when we got the job done on the first try and a few weeks later it dawned on us that we were going to be someone's parents which resulted into a momentary knee jerk: "They said years! How did this happen? I'm not ready!"
After we took turns slapping the hysteria out of each other, we got used to the idea and joy and gratefulness replaced our shock and uncertainty and we began to share our happy news with those closest to us.
Now, here is where I am going to do all of you first timers a solid. And you'll thank me for it, because no one else will tell you these things. Most of your friends will be shady about these details until you get knocked up and they know there's no turning back for you. And then the floodgates will open and their stories will spill out like hot lava and you'll look at them and be like "You bitch! NOW you're telling me this?!"
And it's pretty much all of them. That chick you know who fully embraced pregnancy and bonded with her womb before she gave birth in a pool in her living room and became one with the true beauty of nature and the power of being a woman, she has stories. Horror stories about her hemorrhoids and how constipated she got. Your mom will suddenly share what she remembers with you and she'll tell you that your sister got the cankles and the skin tags so you probably will too (this wasn't my mom because I was adopted but it happened to one of my girlfriends who learned this the day she announced she was pregnant).
In all fairness to my shifty ass friends, I don't think they do this intentionally. Some of it is downright embarrassing and it's possible that the whole experience of childbirth, which they all say is miraculous, makes their brain's defense mechanism shut out all the crap they went through for nine months, otherwise everyone would have one damn kid and our species would die off (clearly this isn't a scientific theory, it's just my opinion).
Also, as a disclaimer, there are some freaks of nature or Pregnancy Unicorns who experience almost none of these things or have symptoms so minor you might be moved to beat the you-know-what out of them. I have a couple of friends like that and those tricks are the kind of girls who don't gain weight and have perfect hair and even though they deny it, deep down I know they farted just as much as me and I am still friends with them because I love them even though they don't love themselves enough to be honest.
So here it is, brace yourselves.
Things that happen to you when you're pregnant that no one wants you to know:
- The exhaustion is otherworldly. I see you rolling your eyes like you A) know this already or B) know me and know how lazy I am, but this is some serious feels-like-you-ran-a-26-mile-marathon-even-though-you-only-walked-from-the-bed-to-couch kind of exhaustion. I cried I was so tired. My best friend locked her office door and slept at her desk on her lunch break. SHE SLEPT AT HER DAMN DESK, PEOPLE! Another friend said she slept in her car on her lunch break with her first, but with her second she couldn't recline with the car seat so she actually had to sleep sitting up.
- Your boobs will feel like giant bags packed with red hot nails. It's a searing pain whose memory will haunt you. One of my guy friends accurately witnessed: "Nature is cruel, your boobs get huge and no one can play with them."
- Nausea. There will be days when you will pray to barf because you hope that it will make the waves of nausea that wash over you when you barely turn your head subside, but they won't -- or if you're like me, you won't always be able to barf. True story: our little dog had the runs and got sick on the living room floor and while I was cleaning it, the nausea stirred and the smell was so bad I knew I was going to vomit and that I couldn't make it to the bathroom so I puked right on top of his mess. I have no shame admitting this. The nausea is real.
- Vaginal discharge. But why are you talking about this? asks my horrified mother. Because it's a real thing that I had to google because I thought there was something wrong with my down low parts. But it's normal. And here come my friends with their stories, these tricks who get squeamish when you make a joke about anal beads. All of a sudden, we're super comfortable talking about discharge and it's consistency. Unbelievable.
- Constipation. Someone recently told me that the husband of a friend had to help the friend dislodge a poop when she was pregnant. No. I can't. I'll turn, as I have, to lentils and lots of water. Works like a charm.
- Bleeding gums are fun, especially during brunch. "Your tooth is bleeding. It's still bleeding, it's not really stopping..." said one of my never-been-pregnant friends. A panicked call to my dentist reveals this is normal! "Its the hormones! But let me know if you get any tumors on your gums. It's rare but can happen." Say what now?!
- Skin tags, apparently. Several friends have had these.
- I'm looking forward to the hemorrhoids, which I'm convinced I'll get.
- Round ligament pain. I understand that this can go from being uncomfortable to downright excruciating. I fall somewhere in the middle. There's not much you can do for it either. Stretching makes it worse, you just have to get a strap to bite on and suffer through it when it hits.
- So you're not a crier? Now you are. Your emotions run rampant. One minute you're fine and the next minute you're crying at a goddamn Ford commercial (it was the one with the old timey bride who's eloping when she runs into her parents on a one way road and she and her man speed off while her mom tells her dad to let them go). On the flip side my partner will tell you that I could go from 0-60 on the rage meter in seconds before bursting into tears and asking him: "Why are you so mean to me?" It was some real Sybil shit that thankfully only lasted a couple of weeks, you can blame it on the hormones.
- Flaming heartburn and deadly gas. Both are my nightly visitors. The latter has been so bad on occasion that the dog has left the room throwing me major shade to let me know he thinks I'm nasty.
Now hopefully, I didn't scare anyone away. Because being pregnant is really magical (the above inconveniences aside, of course). And when you see your teeny tiny baby on the ultrasound for the first time, you will feel a kind of happiness and love that's hard to equate. I actually feel a weird gratefulness every single day for the bleeding gums and the nausea and even the fiery boobs because someday, after hours of the most excruciating pain my mind could possibly fathom coupled with the reported massive amounts of people who will see my vagina when I'm in labor (which I'm told I will barely notice, ha!), our baby will be here. And I'm betting that my own brain will block out the above list which is why this post will become so handy: no one can say I didn't warn them.