Warning: Graphic pregnancy truths, ranting and a certain amount of self pity lay ahead. This post is not for the squeamish — or any male relative or co-worker of mine.
Sunday morning I wake up disappointed that a night of minimally interrupted sleep didn’t work any miracles on my body. Before I even stand up, I know I’m in trouble. Once I’m on my feet and the blood has a chance to rush to my nether regions the pressure “down there” is so intense I can barely walk. I employ Tucks pads and take a sitz bath (in the tub my husband has lovingly cleaned for me) and tearfully accept that I just need to put myself on bed rest for the rest of the day. I lay on my left side moaning and feeling sorry for myself.
It’s been seven months since I felt comfortable in my own body. And just as annoying, seven months since I’ve been able to respond to the question, “How are you doing?” without a rueful frown.
I guess it’s good practice in telling people what they don’t want to hear. When most people ask you how your pregnancy is going they want you to say: “Fantastic! I’m an earth mother and it’s all a beautiful fucking miracle!”
I usually say “I’m tired.” Which is always true. Then I mentally suppress of my list of other complaints: hormones have me perpetually on the brink of tears, my hips, vulva and butt all hurt, and my doctor won’t let me have sex when I crave it most because it makes my newly discovered cervical polyp bleed.
Even the bland “I’m tired” answer makes me feel like a sad sack. But it’s better than faking some sunny disposition and perpetuating the American tendency to paint pregnancy as something to be powered through with green smoothies and prenatal yoga classes.
It’s true, some women love being pregnant and experience minimal discomfort. That’s great for them, but the rest of us — dealing with nausea, insomnia, heartburn, hemorrhoids and varicose veins in our vulvas — deserve some tender loving care and a fistful of get-out-of-obligation-free cards.
Even well meaning people have a tendency to assume that if you just took better care of yourself you’d be feeling just fine. And they begin dispensing advice along those lines.
Worse are the people who look at you like complaining about your pregnancy somehow means you don’t want your baby. Maybe I’m just reading into things too much, whacky hormones will do that, but sometimes it feels like there’s judgment imposed when you provide honest answers to questions that are supposedly asked out of empathic concern.
What I want is a fucking time machine so I can skip ahead to the healthy full-term baby part, the truly beautiful part. And feel like I inhabit an almost normal body again.
I’m not laying out all these complaints for the shock value or merely to whine (though whining is certainly part of it). And obviously, I got myself into this (as I can hear so many childless people saying).
I mainly want to raise awareness that when you see a pregnant woman, there’s likely lots of ugly stuff happening behind the scenes that she’s not talking about.
Be kind. Send her some subliminal — or better yet overt — messages that it’s okay to be a hot mess right now.
I’m starting to appreciate the old fashioned concept of “confinement” during pregnancy. I want me some of that. Social permission and a private place to be a hot mess for the next few months.
But I’ll settle for my close cadre of people who know the truth, try to make my life a little bit easier, and love me anyway. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
This week I’m doing the #YourTurnChallenge. One blog post a day for seven days. Today is Day 2.