Here's what I think: I think that mothers have been in cahoots to keep many of the secrets of pregnancy from non-mothers, just to be mean. Just so that we are tricked into going through the same misery. My theory is somewhat flawed because I have no motive for such cruelty; I actually believe women are pretty good people. But all I ever used to hear is how great pregnancy is. Then, after I am pregnant, everyone is suddenly acknowledging the misery. Interesting.
I just want to know how I got to be 35 and never had any clue about so many of these things. I now want to share with the world the suckiness of my first trimester. It may be that I want to whine now that my pregnancy is no longer a secret. But more than that, I just think people deserve to know.
I'd like to start by saying that in my "normal life" I am totally healthy and free of aches and pains. I almost never get sick. As a matter of fact, the only real ailment I have is headaches, but even those mostly went away after I replenished my vitamin D levels. So please understand that I'm not a negative person or a sickly person. I'm in great health and I'm in good shape. Sometimes great shape, sometimes good shape, but I'm never overweight or anything.
But since getting pregnant, these are some of the joys I've discovered:
1. Morning sickness: I had it better than most people - just two weeks and no barfing. But IT WAS AWFUL.
2. Major, debilitating headaches: In a way, it's like, "what else is new?" I mean, I've always had headaches, but now I get three-day headaches and I can't really take anything but regular strength Tylenol. Any experienced headache sufferer laughs at regular strength Tylenol. It's about as effective on a debilitating headache as a Tic-Tac.
3. Sciatic nerve inflammation: In my old, Jewish lady voice, "Oy vey, my sciatica is acting up again."
4. Muscle pain: I woke up the other day and felt like I'd run a marathon. My legs were so sore, I walked like a 95-year-old. Getting up the stairs took forever. And I didn't not do anything strenuous the day before. Actually, I have not done anything strenuous in weeks ... see No. 5.
5. EXHAUSTION LIKE I HAVE NEVER KNOWN: This one deserves all caps. If you've never been pregnant but have heard that one may be tired during this time, well, you have no idea. You cannot grasp the meaning of tired until you spend three months creating a placenta. For me: get up after sleeping for 10 hours, eat breakfast, wash the dishes, check my e-mail, return to bed for a nap before work.
6. Food Aversions: Please don't ever show me a vegetable again.
7. Weird Pelvic Pains That Are Apparently Normal But Scare the Crap Out of You Every Time Anyway: I guess the uterus has to stretch and everything, but you still think "Miscarriage!" at each pang.
8. Ridiculous Emotions: I cry at everything. Everything. "Desperate Housewives," commercials, a billboard for a fertility clinic that shows one set of hands handing a baby to another set of hands. "It's a Wonderful Life," which I can't even stand but am forced to watch by my husband every year. Even a news story at work about some people who beat their 3-month-old to oblivion for "entertainment." Ok, that one deserved some tears, but usually I'm pretty good at not crying at my desk when reading horrible news stories. It's my job, after all, to read horrible news stories.
9. Bloating: From the moment I conceived, my belly got big and puffy. I was sure everyone at work was playing "Is she fat or pregnant," but after I told them, nobody seemed to have had any clue. Or at least they were polite enough not to say, "Ohhhh. I was wondering why you looked so dumpy and plumpy."
10. Digestive Issues: I won't go into detail, lest my mother torture me with prunes as she did when I was a kid. A friend told me yesterday that a pregnant friend of hers once said, "Nobody told me I wouldn't shit for 9 months!" That really says it all, people.
11. Boobs: OK, so they got bigger, and that was cool, but you know when you have breast tenderness right before your period? Imagine that times 10,000 and for three straight months or more. My cat has a real knack for using my chest as a thoroughfare when I'm sleeping.
Before this, I always thought, "If I'm ever pregnant, I will eat super-healthy and exercise every day. Because that's what a good mother-to-be does."
Now I know what a complete idiot I was. Between nausea and food aversions, you're lucky to eat at all, and thanks to the exhaustion, going upstairs was about all the exercise I could handle in a day and still make it though work that evening.
By the grace of God, or good genetics, I only gained 1.5 pounds in the first trimester. It was certainly no thanks to any effort I put in. I basically had to eat whatever appetized me at the moment. Mostly I find it unfortunate to have to deal with food at all, because even post-morning sickness, I generally don't find that food sounds very good. I don't really feel normal hunger, I just feel sort of sick when it's time to eat. Like my blood sugar dropped and I'm sort of headachey, maybe nauseated, and nothing sounds good.
Oh, but if you think this sounds bad, or that childbirth sounds bad, I hear that those are a fun day at the park compared to breast-feeding.