Now that I’m nearing the end (T-Minus less than 2 weeks until my due date!), I thought it might be nice to reveal some not-so-pretty truths about pregnancy. Sure, we all know about morning sickness and the “Movie Version” signs of labor, but I’m talking about the stuff that people rarely talk about: the things involving hair and fluids and pain (consider this your warning, people). I think part of the reason people rarely discuss this part (besides it being, you know… gross) is pregnancy feels so long, that you forget about a lot of the not-so-fun stuff along the way. And then of course when your precious baby comes along, all remnants of annoyance and pain just get tossed aside (which is why this is another reason why I’m in the perfect place to write this). So, here we go. And just a fair warning (again), this post is not for the faint of heart.
The First Trimester Feels Like a Hangover
You know how you feel after a night of heavy drinking? Nauseous, exhausted, bloated, not wanting to talk to anybody, headache-y, and just slightly off? Welcome to your first trimester. You’ll feel this way for approximately 3 months. And much like a hangover, there’s no cure-all. However, you’re also not able to garner any support from people because most likely you’re trying to keep your impending pregnancy under wraps, so you’ll be forced to suffer in silence. Many people will think this is the worst part of pregnancy. I certainly did. Until I hit the last month. But, more on that later…
Toothpaste (insert just about anything you use regularly) is the Devil
There will be certain things that set off your nausea. Toothpaste was it for me (and surprisingly a lot of women, according to mommy message boards). But, it could be anything. I’ve heard chicken, chocolate, and cologne are all offenders. You will never be able to look at these things the same way. My husband used to brush his teeth in the shower and keep a tube of toothpaste in there. Not anymore. Sorry, hon.
Hair Will Sprout Up in Surprising Places
…Like your stomach, toes, butt, and chin. It calms down in the 2nd trimester only to come back full force in your 3rd trimester when you’re unable to bend down to shave or do anything about it (unless you have an awesome aesthetician, shout out to Tess who is a goddess and just had a baby herself). I’ve been told it stops after pregnancy. Let’s hope so because at this rate, I’ll have more body hair than my dog. I also used to be shy and reserved about tweezing my chin hair, especially in front of my husband. But, you’ll find many things that you used to be shy about will no longer matter. Let’s continue…
Going to the Bathroom will Feel Like a Forensics Exam
During the first trimester, wiping was done with utmost scrutiny. I constantly checked to make sure there was no sign of bleeding or spotting to indicate something was amiss. That calmed down in the 2nd trimester, only to (again) come back full force in the 3rd as I started looking for early labor signs (see below). Bottom line: you’ll be spending more time on the toilet than you can ever imagine. And a bonus truth: it gets REALLY hard to wipe in the 3rd trimester. Which brings me to…
Say Goodbye to Your Vagina and Toes
Also, those urine tests you have to take every time you go to the doctor: starting in month 6-7, you won’t be able to see where your vagina is, so hopefully your aim is somewhat decent or you don’t mind getting pee on you. Guess it’s just prep for baby, amiright?! Also, bending down or putting on socks/shoes is a serious chore. With the amount of grunting that goes into me getting ready in the morning, you’d have thought I just ran a marathon. My husband has definitely had to help me into and out of pants, which is also not pretty. Remember when I mentioned not being shy about things?
The Scale Will Most Likely Make You Want to Cry
At the start of your pregnancy, your doctor will tell you that it’s common to gain between 25-35 pounds. If you’re like me, you’ll think to yourself: “whoa, that’s a lot, but it’s for the sake of my baby and I don’t really care. And besides, I’ll probably be on the lower end of that spectrum.” And here’s the thing: I LOST weight my first trimester. The thought of putting on close to 40 pounds in 6 months seemed unfeasible. And then the numbers creeped up… and up… and up. When I weighed more than my husband, I stopped telling him how much I weighed and not letting him see the number when I was at the doctor (I also noticed around this time, he stopped weighing himself at the doctor, as well… perhaps he realized it was no longer funny to compare weight). You will gain weight. And it will most likely be a lot, no matter how well you eat or work out (both of which I’m doing!) There’s nothing you can do except remind yourself it’s all a part of it, and try to believe people when they tell you the weight is all in your belly. More body issues you may have to deal with: stretch marks (check… and on my thighs and butt, so that’s “awesome”), swelling (hasn’t happened for me… yet), change in shoe size (another one that hasn’t happened, but I’m more more inclined towards my slip-ons), skin changes (mine has been for the better, thank you boy hormones), boob changes (nipples get darker, boobs get bigger and saggier… and those pretty bras that you spent years curating, yeah you can go toss those because you’re going to be living in shapeless sports-bra types now). And as far as your fabulous hair? Well, it does look truly fabulous, I’ll admit that. But, it’s also growing like a weed so bangs are a commitment and you won’t be able to control your frizz unless there’s like a gallon of hair oil on your head. Ugh.
The Last Month
A few people warned me and said the last month is brutal. Compared to the first trimester (which I’ll remind you, feels like the worst hangover of your life), I thought there was no way this could be possible. Until about 3 weeks ago. You see, at this point, your belly is so big that the word “comfortable” doesn’t compute anymore. Every day tasks like putting on clothes, walking, and even sleeping require SO. MUCH. ENERGY. I can’t tell you how much I dread having to turn over in the middle of the night. I seriously have to emotionally prepare because it such a task. And I have to turn over because you can’t sleep on your back or else you could put too much pressure on your uterus, which will cause decreased blood flow and you’ll become lightheaded; and sleeping on one side for too long will cause your entire body terrible aches and pains because you weight a ton. Also, the baby has started making their descent and has decided to take up residence on your bladder, which means you’ll have to go to the bathroom CONSTANTLY (not joking: there are times that I’m going every five minutes). So, sleep is elusive (more baby prep, right?!), which means you’re extra exhausted even without all the extra effort to do the normal things. Oh, and let’s add in the fact your body is now coursing with the hormone relaxin, which loosens your joints to prepare for childbirth, but causes everything (like your back) to also loosen, so you’ll most likely have shooting back pain. And why don’t we add in some heartburn, nausea, cramping, and practice contractions into the mix for fun. And general anxiety. Get the picture? Fortunately, you should only have a few weeks (3-6, give or take) of this nightmare before you meet your bundle of joy. So, try to relax…
I SWEAR TO GOD, IF SOMEONE TELLS ME TO RELAX ONE MORE TIME, I WILL…
Oh yeah, those hormones are still raging, too. But, you get the picture. It’s not a fun time. I apologize to everyone around me.
Signs of Early Labor
So you can see with the last month being so miserable, why you would look for “signs of labor” as some sort of reassurance that the end of the road is near. Except, here’s the thing. Those signs that are so cleverly portrayed in TV and Movies— NOT THE REAL SIGNS. Here’s some real signs, that as a screenwriter, I completely understand why they wouldn’t be the most dramatic or compelling storytelling. Also, some of which are just plain gross.
-Diarrhea. Yup, an early sign is your body starts to clean itself out. Can you imagine the sweet pregnancy movie where the woman yells, “honey, it’s time! I can’t stop shitting!” Aww!
-Losing the mucus plug. This is the plug that develops in your uterus to block out bacteria and other things from entering baby’s space. And before childbirth, your body expels it because it’s services will no longer be needed soon. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a plug of mucus (kind of like a big ball of snot, you guys). This could also be coupled with the “bloody show,” which is not a cool new Guillermo Del Toro movie, it’s a discharge that’s tinged with blood that’s also a sign of labor. Actually, maybe this would make a good pregnancy scene… IN A FUCKING HORROR MOVIE!
Labor Will Take a Long Ass Time (and you’ll most likely be at home for most of it).
This was something my husband and I discovered at childbirth class. His image of labor was the water breaks (which only happens in like 10% of births and is not the gush of fluid that happens on screen), and we immediately go to the hospital where I’m medicated, forced to lay down and relax, and a few hours later a baby appears. What actually happens (most likely). I start getting contractions, which will last for a few hours and increase in intensity. I suffer through this until they’re either so unbearable or are coming 3 minutes apart. Then we go to the hospital, where labor will most likely slow down, then we “patiently” wait for several hours (up to 24) for me to dilate, and then I push for 3-4 hours. In the movie world, that’s a lot of waiting around and not very dramatic, so you can see why signs of labor get so improperly portrayed!
So, there you have it… the good, bad, and ugly of pregnancy. And this only scratches the surface.