What to Expect when you’re Expecting. I skipped the book, but I watched the movie (several times) and loved it! You see, I’ve always been fascinated with pregnancy. I’m not sure if it’s a woman thing or just me, but I’ve spent so much of my time wondering about and admiring the pregnant woman. I was so excited when I saw the double lines on my own pregnancy test for the first time. I couldn’t wait to start feeling the little kicks, to watch my belly grow and wear those cute maternity outfits. I imagined myself to be like Skyler from the movie (I was all for having twins, too). I thought if I imagined pregnancy to be a positive experience, then I would definitely have one. Come 8 weeks, and pregnancy gave me a slap in the face. And just like that, all my ideas of pregnancy changed. I realised that I was Wendy – the one with all these grand expectations and fantasies only to watch them be shattered by reality. Okay, it’s not all bad. I’ll admit it. But seriously, there are some things you just need to be prepared for…
Here’s my top ten reasons why pregnancy sucks.
Okay, we all knew it was coming, right? I mean, most women expect the nausea. I, on the other hand, thought I’d apply the power of positive thinking. If I didn’t expect the nausea, I wouldn’t get it; if I got it anyway, then it wouldn’t be that bad. Oh, what a fool I was! Let me just put this out there: you do not have mind powers! No one does! You cannot think things away. If you’re going to get nauseous, it’s just going to happen and yes, it’ll probably suck.
At first, I was excited. My first actual pregnancy symptom! I went out and bought the gingerbeer and the sour worms, so ready to try the remedies I’d read all about. But the excitement wore off pretty quickly. When you can’t touch the sour worms and the gingerbeer makes you gag, things start to seem pretty dismal. I felt like I had motion sickness – ALL THE TIME (don’t believe that “morning” sickness nonsense). I was lucky enough to not have to make any dashes for the nearest toilet or rubbish bin, but I constantly felt like my insides were sloshing around. The worst of it was over by ten weeks (lucky me!) but I still had that tickly feeling at the back of throat until way into the second trimester. The only way I could deal with it was to give into my cravings for carbs and citrus. That seemed to take the edge off.
*By the way, five months after having my baby, I still haven’t touched gingerbeer.
2. Cravings and Aversions
It’s perhaps not the cravings themselves that are sucky, but more the emotional attachment that seems to come with them. It’s amazing how the store’s lack of the right flavour of chips can easily ruin your entire day. Then there’s also the problem that most of what you crave is NOT very nutritious, yet the thought of broccoli makes you want to hurl. My cravings started with the nausea and ended only after giving birth. They ranged from potatoes and orange juice to pizza dough and blueberry muffins. Just warn your partner in advance – if you cannot get whatever it is that you’re craving, your world will fall to pieces and you may just possibly drown in your own tears.
Aversions, like cravings, aren’t much fun either. These are what make dinner parties awkward – when you’re trying not to gag at the sight of chicken on your plate. My biggest aversion was hot drinks. The cup of (decaf) coffee that I looked forward to warming me up each morning became a source of nausea; along with those winter evening hot chocolates and milos. It made me so sad. Tea, however, was the worst. I would literally hold my nose as I walked past the teas in the grocery store because even the smell would make me gag. Oh, you can’t smell the tea through the boxes you say? Trust me, you can!
3. Tiny bladder
This one gave me some serious grief. Not only because getting up in the middle of the night to pee would inevitably make me hungry and unable to get back to sleep, but also because I really hate using other people’s toilets. Weird, I know. But I’d rather sit with a full bladder for an extra hour than take a squat in a public restroom. Pregnancy did not give me this luxury. I went from peeing about four times a day to about ten. One night I even had to get up five times! FIVE! The worst was when we took a trip to Kruger National Park with some friends from the States. Nevermind, the hours and hours we spent in the car, it was the accommodation that got me down. We stayed in bungalows, which meant communal bathrooms. So if I needed to pee in the middle of the night, which was inevitable, I had to get up, walk outside, half asleep, in the dark, in the middle of winter, and try to find my way to the nearest bathroom. Oh, and did I mention that all the weird bugs like to spend their nights in the bathrooms too?
4. Weight Gain
I don’t care who you are, but watching your body expand to the point where you can hardly recognise yourself is frightening! I scoff at belly-only pregnancies. My whole body was pregnant! My hips, my thighs, my bum, my arms, my face… EVERYTHING! People would tell me, “You’re so small” and “You’re looking so good.” I smiled and said thanks, but I knew they were lying. Okay, maybe they weren’t. I wasn’t that big, but I felt like I was, and that’s the thing about being pregnant. You feel huge. You feel it when you try to put on your favourite pair of jeans and when you try to take off your socks. You feel it when you somehow manage to eat twice your usual amount of food and every time that nasty doctor makes you stand on that wretched scale. Yes, you know you’re carrying another human being inside of you, but you can’t shake the fear that you will never be able to lose the baby weight. Take heart, my friend, because it won’t always be like this. But yes, right now, it sucks.
Growing and growing…
5. Water Retention
This was partly to blame for my 20 kilogram weight gain. From about twenty weeks I started to retain water. Only a little at first, but throughout my third trimester it just got worse and worse. I spent four months wearing the same pair of shoes (the only ones that fit) and without my wedding ring. I could feel the tightness in my legs and see the swelling in my face. It didn’t help that I was pregnant in one of Jo’burg’s hottest summers either. I tried everything… from drinking water and putting my feet up to tissue salts. Nothing worked! I would be terrified of my midwife’s scale because no matter how well I ate, the numbers just kept climbing. A few days after I gave birth, I weighed myself and was disappointed to see that I had only lost 5 kilos. But, I was still swollen and my wedding ring was still too tight. Two weeks later, my swelling was gone and I was amazed to see that I had lost another 7 kilos! That’s a LOT of water.
6. Not being able to do stuff for yourself
I like my independence. I like being in control of my own home. I don’t want to ask for help carrying the heavy laundry basket down the stairs or reaching for the flour at the top of the cupboard. I want to tie my own shoelaces and take off my socks by myself. Does this sound toddler-like? Nevertheless, this was hard for me. Especially when we had to move house when I was four months along. I wanted to pack my own boxes, clean my own house and unpack things where I wanted them, but I had to humble myself and accept the help. Take my advice – put away the pride and control, just for a little while, and take the help where it is offered. Let your partner carry the grocery bags and tie your shoes for you, because one day, you’ll be wishing you had that kind of help, with no excuse to ask for it.
7. Stuffy Nose
Increased blood flow throughout the pregnant woman’s body may result in swelling of the mucous glands. Basically, you end up producing a lot more snot (yes, I said snot… can you tell I’m a mother yet?) and may even experience some nose bleeds. This build-up caused me to sneeze – A LOT – and snore. Plus, I couldn’t go anywhere without having some tissues on hand, just in case. So basically, it’s nine months of having a bit of a stuffy nose.
8. Not being able to take medication
Okay, let’s be honest here. Panado is basically a bunch of smarties in a pill box. It doesn’t do much. If you’re one of the unluckies that gets to experience crazy headaches as a pregnancy symptom, my heart goes out to you. For me, this medication problem got to me when I got my usual round of flu in December time. Yes, I get sick EVERY December. Usually around Christmas time. But moving on… I found that some saline nasal sprays and vaporub helped with the whole breathing at night thing, but that was about the best that could be done. Other than that, all that all you can do is sleep and wait it out. Sorry.
9. Body Pains
It’s a gracious thing that our bodies change slowly to accommodate the babies that grow inside of us. It’s no small feat carrying around an extra person for nine (or ten) months straight. Naturally, as that baby grows, you start to feel it, especially in those last two months. That third trimester is not for sissies. Walking is hard! And yet the doctor will still have the nerve to tell you to do squats! My last month of pregnancy fell in December… which meant Christmas… which meant shopping – lots of it. I tried so hard not to waddle around the mall like a penguin, but it only increased the pain. My hips and back ached, my feet were bursting out of my shoes, my bladder was being used as a punching bag and don’t even get me started on the groin pain. Here’s the deal – the waddle is survival. Embrace the waddle. It will go. I promise.
10. The waiting game
If all of this wasn’t enough, you still have to spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy, not knowing when the torture will end. You go sleep each night hoping that you will be one of the many women who go into labour at night only to wake up the next morning feeling perfectly fine and still pregnant. And then there’s the added terror that any day now, you will experience the greatest physical pain known to man, and part of you just wants to get it over and done with. Some will tell you not to rush it – to relax and enjoy this last bit of time of having baby all to yourself. Your baby needs every last ounce of time he can get inside there. I agree. But I also say it’s okay to want your baby out. Your desire to end this torture and finally experience the joy that’s so great that it makes perfectly sane women get pregnant again is perfectly legitimate. Just trust in the Lord’s perfect timing – and eat ice cream.
Every pregnancy is different. These are only the worst that I experienced. There are plenty of other awful symptoms out there like acne and high blood pressure. What was the worst for you?