First let me say that I loved my pregnancies – yes, both of them, even the second one when I had constant gas and heartburn and gained almost 50 pounds. And naturally I love the two little people who resulted from them – my four year old number cruncher and my curly girl. Like I would with any new venture, I prepared myself a bit ahead of time, talking to everyone I knew, researching online, and making the inevitable purchase of pregnancy books. A lot of what I read matched what I had already heard (swollen feet, aching nipples, sex dreams, check!) But some things really came out of left field. And I’ll share those here.
1. 40 Weeks.
Okay, of course I had heard it before. Human gestation is 9 months or 40 weeks long. What never calculated for me before it REALLY mattered was that that math is all wrong! There are 4 weeks in a month, right? There are in mine. Well, it turns out there’s more like 4.33 weeks in a month (approximately). And those extra .33 weeks add a whole MONTH to your pregnancy. And this hit home for me sometime around my seventh month of having to randomly stop my car to puke on the side of the road (Another myth – morning sickness DOES NOT end in the first trimester. Or not always, at any rate.) And I wanted to cry. So I did. (Mood swings – not a myth).
2. Babies Grow Really Fast!
Yes, that was just me complaining about how my pregnancies were somehow 10 months long when I had been led to believe they would be 9. But it still is incredible how quickly those little suckers grow! One of my favorite pregnancy activities was my nightly reading of What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. And luckily I was so tired all the time that it took me about 10 months to read the whole book! The first section of each chapter was the best – which food item is the baby the same size as now? An olive, a mango, a chicken breast? Delicious reading! And maybe it shouldn’t be surprising, but when you feel that body growing inside yours, it just is. Every day. Every minute.
3. Middle of the Night Leg Cramps
In addition to What to Expect I bought Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs. And read it in one long, lazy weekend. In a chapter subtitled Weird and Painful Bits and Pieces she divulges all those sneaky little things that pregnancy does to you, including incredibly painful middle of the night leg cramps. I laughed at her honest, brutal, stories. Then I had them. For about 4 months. I would jump out of bed in a literally indescribable pain (I won’t even try), sometimes crying out so loudly that my husband would jolt awake “What The F@#$! What’s wrong!” And NONE of the exercises listed in What to Expect helped. Of course, once I totally stopped sleeping in months 9 and 10 the leg cramps became more bearable somehow. Hm. Not that fair of a trade-off, really.
4. “The Blue Twinkies”
The title of a chapter in Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs. Subtitled (Your Swollen Vagina). This one I had never heard of. And thankfully never experienced. Until about month 8 of my second pregnancy. I want to spare you the details as they are ugly. But imagine this – you wake up in the morning needing to pee (obviously). You sit down and do just that and something feels really not right. You panic. It feels like the baby’s head is poking out! What the hell! I’m not in labor! Help! You call your doctor’s office in tears. A gentle and very understanding nurse tells you exactly what it is that you are feeling down there and have no way of seeing. You feel relieved, and a bit like an idiot. Yes, Jenny, thank you for the warning. Too bad I didn’t listen!
5. Freaky Baby Dreams
Not one of the friends who had spared what I thought was no detail in their tales of pregnancy shared with me that pregnant dreams are really weird. And sometimes quite scary. Jenny McCarthy tells of one in Belly Laughs that involves performing her own C-Section, then putting the baby back in and sewing herself back up. Weirdo. Mine were a bit more grotesque than that, like the one I had in which I was using the perfect little silver spoon I had received as a shower gift to eat my soft, delicate baby’s cheeks. Uggh. The phrase “So cute I could just eat up!” still makes me feel nauseous.
Reading can’t prepare you for everything. But it sure is comforting to know that all these bizarre little things aren’t just happening to you. You’re in good company.