See Part I here. I had a lot to say, so I decided to break it into two posts.
Not just the first three months may suck, the whole thing may suck.
I had a tough first few months. My morning sickness was like a 24/7 hangover that felt never-ending. I was fatigued all the time, and the thought of trying to eat something was completely out of the question. My family practitioner wouldn’t give me anything for the nausea until I’d seen an OB/GYN, and the OB/GYN was booked for at least two weeks. I was absolutely miserable and eagerly waiting for the magical second trimester everyone was telling me about: bursts of energy, cheery disposition, hearty appetite, and just a general lifting of the black cloud of fatigue and nausea. The second trimester was better, but not by a lot. With the advent of the third trimester came severe acid reflux, trouble breathing, sleepnessness, depression, more fatigue, and even some nausea thrown in on the odd nights. Yes, Every Pregnancy is Different™, but I think it’s safe to say I kept hoping it would get better. It never really did.
Most of the time, people don’t care if you’re pregnant.
Right off the bat, I’ll say that “people” does not include friends and family, because they certainly care. What I mean by “people” is general people outside of those categories. Case in point: the metro. I commute on the metro daily, and at this point, 8 1/2 months into the pregnancy, it shows. My feet are swelled, I waddle when I walk, and I huff and puff from walking short distances. The metro gets pretty packed in the evenings, and I usually have to elbow my way around just to get on a train. And when I do, it’s standing room only. A handful of people have offered me a seat when it gets like that. By a handful, I literally mean 4 people. I don’t need to sit all the time, but there are days when I sure would appreciate it. I actually had one woman, from the luxury of her seat, tell me it wasn’t good for me to be standing or even riding the metro when I was so far along. Her concern did not extend to giving me her seat.
The first few months when I was having marathon puke sessions in the bathroom, waking up in the middle of the night to puke some more, and feeling like I needed to sleep in the afternoons, I couldn’t let any of it on. I’d just started my job and wanted to look good. And even now, if I’m not feeling well or something is off, I can’t really say, “I’m unable to do X because I’m pregnant.” It sounds lame. Of course, the second I try to lift something or I volunteer to do something else, I get told I shouldn’t be doing those things “because I’m pregnant.”
I don’t like the 12 week rule.
I understand that the “12 week rule” for announcing is there for multiple reasons: fear of miscarriage, unwanted advice, work worries. However, I don’t really agree with it. One article says, “The thinking is that if you tell your friends and family before 12 weeks, and experience a tragic miscarriage, then you need to share that news, too. Many women believe it’s just easier to keep the news to themselves than to share their sadness with others.” I call bullshit. BULLSHIT. I get that everyone is different and processes their experiences differently. If a woman chose to take this route on her own, I would not fault her for it. What I have beef with is how other people spout it like it is gospel. To me, it’s essentially saying, “You should not tell anyone until 12 weeks because you need to suffer through a miscarriage alone.” Unsolicited advice? Meh, you get it at all levels and I’m sure I will get it post-birth, too. The last reason is probably the most understandable, because discrimination against pregnant women is still very real in the workplace. At the same time, a woman is expected, should she experience complications or morning sickness, to keep silent. Somehow it all seems really unfair to me. Even one person I saw announce before 12 weeks on FB got blasted for sharing too early, but she pretty much gave an e-shrug and said she could announce when she wanted.
PMS is nothing on pregnancy hormones.
I’ve always been a pretty emotional person. It was pretty easy to tell when it was my time of the month, mostly because I’d alternate between weepy and irrationally angry. You could almost say I was the poster child for every stereotype about PMS. I found out later, after trying many different kinds of birth control, that hormones were not in my cards because they amplified every terrible feeling I had tenfold. So when I got pregnant, naturally the onslaught of hormones was going to make me a little crazy, right? I’d read about mothers-to-be getting weepy at silly things and figured I was in for a little bit of a roller coaster of a time. Sure enough, the smallest things got me going. I bawled my eyes out on the Winnie-the-Pooh ride at Disney World because there was a family in the cart in front of us and I was picturing me riding with our little girl. I got misty when I saw mothers with their children at the mall. I’d cry at songs on the radio I never even batted an eye out before. I think, at first, it was normal. But then the tide turned. I was irrationally sad and angry all the time, which I talk about in a previous post. I’m happy to say I’ve finished the acupuncture treatment and I’m still doing fine. I feel more adjusted than I have since I got pregnant, to be honest. It’s a good feeling.
You will lose friends, but you will find support networks in places you never thought possible.
I didn’t expect to lose friends. I was even more shocked to learn you lose ones you had for a long, long time. Instead of hash on that, though, I will say I realized that support networks and encouragement come out of the woodwork. Friendships that have always existed have grown even stronger, which I am infinitely grateful for. I’ve had people reach out that I have only spoken to every now and then, or people I’ve only kept in touch with via social media. I know social media gets a bad rap a lot of the time, but I will say that it has proven invaluable for letting me know that people care and that I’m not alone. It reminds me that even though some people find it necessary to cut you out of their life for whatever reason, there are plenty of others that are just fine with having you around, whether it’s virtual or in real life.
BONUS: People suddenly turn into MDs.
One of my big pet peeves are those “just you wait” comments. My poor husband got the JUST YOU WAIT the other day when he was getting his hair cut. I said it was a good thing I wasn’t there because I would have said something. Anyway, the other one is when people say, “Well, in MY PREGNANCY . . .” (or the derivative “In X person’s pregnancy”). I say I’m abstaining from alcohol? “Well IN MY PREGNANCY I drank and my baby was just fine.” I’m watching my caffeine intake? “In MY SISTER’S PREGNANCY, she drank a ton of coffee and her baby came out perfect.” Hell, in Disney I said I wasn’t riding certain rides because I was pregnant, and some lady nearby piped up, “MY DAUGHTER rode all those rides when she was pregnant and her baby was fine.” Well, aren’t you special. Where’s your decade or more of schooling to make such a bold statement?
I get it, some of the rules seem extraneous. I’ve even cheated on the coffee rule a handful of times. But last I checked, personal anecdotes don’t trump the recommendations of a doctor. Hell, if we took personal anecdotes as gospel, I’m sure we’d end up with a lot more unvaccinated babies, too. Also, if Every Pregnancy is Different™, how do I know what worked for one person would be an assurance that my baby would be absolutely fine? I can deal without drinking, or riding thrill rides, or raw fish, etc. for nine months. II’ll bitch about it, but I can deal. I’d rather be a stick in the mud and be safe than sorry.
I’m sure I’ll look back on this list and laugh my ass off. Oh, I still have so much to learn.