Since I shared the news of my pregnancy with family and friends, there seems to be this expectation that I should be excited about this magical time in my life. Considering my pregnancy was totally unplanned, excitement has been the furthest thing from my mind. And this myth about pregnancy being a magical experience? I just don’t understand it… My pregnancy has been anything but magical. In fact, it has been down right evil. At times I wonder why would anyone put themselves through this on purpose?
I understand every pregnancy is different, every baby is different, and every woman is different. That is an undeniable fact and not one that I am doubting. But when I say I’ve had the pregnancy from hell, I am not kidding. Some of my closest friends keep insisting that I should embrace my pregnancy, I should be elated to feel the baby moving, and the biggest one of all is that I should be excited to become a mother. But, the truth is I’ve barely enjoyed anything about being pregnant.
I don’t believe in the magical pregnancy myth and here’s why.
I’ll start with the most obvious and most annoying phase of pregnancy; morning sickness. Granted, not every woman has morning sickness. But there is one thing I can guarantee, not every woman has morning sickness the way I have. My morning sickness started immediately upon conception, before I even knew I was pregnant. I was so sick I actually thought I was coming down with the flu and scheduled a doctors appointment. When the nurse asked me to pee in a cup I was confused but didn’t think much of it. Then my doctor came in, closed the door, asked me how I was feeling, and dropped the bombshell that I was pregnant. My period wasn’t even late yet!
So back to the morning sickness. I felt nauseous almost 24 hours a day for the first 4 months I was pregnant. If I didn’t eat when I was hungry, I felt sick. If I ate too much, I felt sick. I was vomiting anywhere from 2-4 times a day. If I brushed my teeth, I puked. If I drank hot tea without eating something I would throw up. If I didn’t have a cup of coffee before breakfast I would be sick. I puked in the shower, I puked at work, I pulled over while driving to throw up, and once I threw up in the middle of a meal. My morning sickness continued all the way through 6 months and didn’t cease until I was about 27 weeks. I actually lost weight during my first trimester because I was vomiting so much and food just wasn’t very appealing to me.
Another reason why I’ve had such a hard time embracing my pregnancy is the fact I had every pregnancy related problem in the book. I wish I could say I was exaggerating but unfortunately I am not. Bloody noses and bloody gums were the least of my problems. If it could happen during pregnancy it was happening to me. Morning was the worst for bloody noses, especially when I developed a cold at 4 months. Brushing my teeth not only caused vomiting but I had bleeding of the gums as well. Acne? That’s an understatement… I had acne in places I’ve never had it before. My back, shoulders, neck, butt, under my arms, in between my boobs, and my face all had random breakouts that seemed to be caused and cured by nothing!
Heartburn, gestational diabetes, chapped lips, and extremely itchy skin are also things I suffer with. In addition I also seem to get the very rare pregnancy related issues that not many women get, some of them extremely embarrassing. Around the end of my first trimester my tattoos began bothering me. They become itchy, red, and inflamed for no reason. The edges become raised and some of the areas get puffy. Nothing helps relieve this irritation and I just have to deal with it. The palms of my hands also turn bright red without a cause. My nails are now brittle and sometimes crack or break. And the most embarrassing thing that happened to me? Around 7 months I started to leak poop. It’s extremely shocking to head to the bathroom only to find you need a fresh pair of panties. I was so mortified that I didn’t even want to ask my doctor about it. But, as I found out it happens to a very small percentage of pregnant women. Unfortunately I happen to be part of that small percentage and I really wish I wasn’t! Now that I’ve stopped having that issue, I can laugh about it but it was seriously not funny when it happened.
Another part of this magical myth is the idea that being a small size during pregnancy is a gift. Most moms and other pregnant women I know are envious that I am “so small” (as they say) during pregnancy. But being small and a bit on the short side is just another one of those things that ruins the whole magical pregnancy experience. I’m 5’4″ so I’m by no means tall, and when I found out I was pregnant I was 128lbs and a size 2. At first, my size was no big deal because I could wear my own clothes as most people do for the first few months. But when I needed to start wearing maternity clothes it was almost impossible to find anything in my size. I scoured the mall for maternity clothes, searched department stores, and even tried a few boutiques. It is almost impossible to find affordable xs maternity clothes, let alone work appropriate shirts and slacks. I’ve ended up wearing the same 3 pairs of pants and the same shirts over, and over, and over, and over….
So you would think being told how small you are during pregnancy would be a compliment, right? Wrong. I have gained exactly 32lbs and my bra size doubled. I’m so tired of everyone telling me how small I am, or that I look great for being 7 months pregnant. I don’t feel small and I have to try to look great. My skin is stretched so tight over my belly that it’s very, very uncomfortable. The only way I am able to get people to understand what it feels like is to ask them how they would feel if they gained 35lbs in 4 months. Usually the first response I get is “but you’re pregnant!”. Let me tell you something, 160lbs on a 5’4″ frame is not comfortable pregnant or not! My feet and legs hurt from carrying the extra weight, and my butt gets sore if I sit for too long.
As far as my bra size, I don’t need anyone to tell me what size I am or comment on how big they are. Trust me, I know how big they are! I went from a 32B to a 36DD in only a matter of months. Recently a friend commented on my surplus of boobs and asked me what size I was wearing. When I told her I was in a DD she immediately disagreed and told me I was “every bit of a size E, maybe even an F”. I was angered and appalled that she would say something so rude. I had just gotten a bra fitting and was not happy about having to buy DD’s. Her telling me she suspected I was larger only sent me into a fit of rage.
It’s bad enough that the baby puts a lot of pressure on my pelvis and bladder, and when she moves it sometimes hurts. But people I barely know putting their hands on my belly to feel the movements is just as uncomfortable. Most pregnant women prefer not to be touched and I’m in agreement on that when it comes to acquaintances and coworkers. But, people I know that are moms insist feeling the kicks and movements of the baby are exciting, should be cherished, and shared. I don’t mind letting my family feel the baby move as long as I’m the one inviting the touching. However, the feeling of my baby moving inside me is foreign to me and I’m still not used to it. I was able to feel movement early on around 18 weeks and now that I’m 7 months it’s much more intense and uncomfortable. It’s very strange to feel movement inside of your body that you can’t control and it’s not something I really enjoy. I also don’t like seeing my belly moving as a hand, knee, elbow, or foot travels across my tightly stretched belly.
On being a mother I keep getting asked if I’m excited. That is the most awkward question to ask a pregnant person, and almost everyone I know has asked me. My pregnancy wasn’t planned and I’m not shy about being honest. Problem is, that’s not what most people want to hear and I really hate seeing the disappointment in their eyes when I answer truthfully. I’m not excited to change dirty diapers. I’m not excited for sleepless nights with a crying baby. I’m not excited to give up some of my freedom. I’m not excited to have messes to clean up. I’m not excited to discuss religious options with my family, and my preference not to raise my daughter in the church. I’m not excited to take a break from my career to raise, shape, mold, and form a little human being. No, I’m not “excited” about the tasks of motherhood but I am prepared. And I get lots of criticism for saying those things. But as a mother to be, isn’t it my right not to be “excited”? Isn’t it my right to think realistically? Isn’t it my right not to feel magical?
Becoming a mother isn’t all sunshine and daisies. I think some people either forget, or they just don’t know how uncomfortable pregnancy can really be. My female friends and family have been the harshest critics of my feelings while pregnant. At first I was confused by this, but now I’m just sick of it. Pregnancy is not magical for me and I’m embracing it in my own way. The moments I enjoy the most about being pregnant and becoming a mother are the ones I have the greatest control over. Things like choosing a name, setting up the nursery, and deciding what type of medical care I want to receive during labor and delivery are what gives me the greatest joy. Knowing I will bring a happy, healthy baby into this world is all the excitement that I need. And I’m certain the magical feelings I’m supposed to feel will come at their own time, at their own pace, and right on schedule with the birth of my daughter this June.