Some notes on pregnancy from an honest woman (part one)

I wasn't sure whether I'd write anything on what it's like to be pregnant, but last week I saw my GP and spelled out what my second trimester (that's meant to be the GOOD one hehe) has been like thus far. We had a giggle and she reminded me that a lot of women bullshit to buggery about the experience they're having - it's just that I'm not hardwired to do that. I don't do fluff.

So I'll say a few things now about my first trimester and what came with it, and I won't hold back. Just so any ladies who've been saying 'OMG I LOVE being pregnant and I'm SO excited' and don't really mean it, may feel they can be more honest with themselves and the world at large.

Seriously, it helps to be honest. As my GP said, it's the women who LOVE being pregnant and KNOW life will go on as normal once the baby arrives (SO EXCITED!!!) who are more likely to fall over either before or after birth, when they don't know what's hit them. On that, post-natal depression (like all depression) is becoming more common as the years pass. Is this partly because we've forgotten how to connect with ourselves and move through experiences - good and bad - with open eyes and livened senses? Have we forgotten how to lay it out straight?

People talk about the wonders of pregnancy: it's Mother Nature at her best. I personally have seen the absurdity - the sheer ridiculousness - of the whole situation. Seriously, what was Mother Nature thinking? Was this really her best option, her best design? If humans are so farken evolved - why can't we just lay eggs? Sit on 'em for nine months and Bob's your uncle. The alternative is so primitive, so cumbersome and, yes, so absurd.

Anyhoo, here's what I found in the first trimester and how I reacted. Maybe it'll mean something to someone : ).

The first few weeks

I suspected I was pregnant only a few days after conception. My memory/concentration went; I became forgetful and my spatial relations were derailed like an old train. My husband noticed something was amiss too, commenting one day that he'd never seen me do a truly god-awful park. That confirmed it. I peed on a stick a few days later (it would have been too early to get a reading before then) and, yes, my wees had the final word. I started laughing like a madwoman and, in rushing out to wave my pee-covered stick before Mex's nose (charming), I smashed my head on the bathroom door. Spatial relations again. I had a bruise to show for it. A nice memory for a nice moment ; ).

I liked the first few weeks. My belly was my little secret and I felt fine. I didn't care about the brain thing and the spatial relations stuff. I could still write and exercise and work and generally go about life as normal. Cool.

As an aside, after waving the stick before Mex, the first thing I did was rush to my computer and Google whether or not I could still drink coffee. I could. Excellent. Primary concern removed. Perhaps a normal person might have Googled 'what can't I eat' or some such. Not me hehe, although I did of course do that after the coffee question was resolved to my satisfaction.

The extra pies, the breastal region, the general physical changes

A dear (male) friend of mine and I were laughing about first trimester bodily expansion and he said: 'No woman I know has ever complained about getting bigger tits.'

He's so right about that one.

As for the extra pies, I put on five kilos in the first six weeks. Christ! It wasn't the 'OMG I'm so FAT' thing I worried about, but the speed at which this happened. I mean, that's fast, yeah? Our bodies don't normally go through changes like that so quickly, and it was a little destabilising to watch. I can now wear only one pair of my existing jeans collection, and I'd saved those in case my tummy ever grew - so they haven't been worn for years. I don't like them. Hmph.

Am I pissed that I can't wear all my favourite jeans - pretty much the only items of clothing I own that never come from op shops?


Do I care about the extra five pies? Yes. But not for the obvious reason. I'm pissed because I'm too fat for my normal clothes and still too skinny for maternity clothes, so I'm living in the same three outfits and it's doing my head in. I'm bloody sick of washing them. And fair enough.

I should say that I might have cared more about the fatness-side of the weight gain (and may well care more in future), except that it stopped dead. That's right. I'm now in week 18 of my pregnancy and I still weigh the same as I did in week 6. Apparently that's not uncommon for lasses who started off skinny (the body corrects and then settles to prepare itself to carry the baby). Weird, but there it is.

What I didn't like about any changes to my body during this time was more a conceptual/control thing. My body has always been mine and I trust it - much more than I trust my mind. Where my mind can play tricks and bring demons, my body has generally always done what I've told it to do. And now it's doing what it wants and it's no longer just mine. I've struggled with that - it's unsettling. Plus the body prioritises the baby, so if I'm not getting enough nutrients for two, the baby gets what it needs and I get the junk. Hmph.


Also, for anyone who underestimates just how unsettling the changes to your body can be ('Who CARES? It's temporary, and it's ALL for THE BABY!!!'), my GP knows a few women who have wanted children but have terminated pregnancies within the first trimester because they can't handle the physical changes. One patient she had did it twice. That's how unsettling these changes can be. Yes, don't underestimate them. And don't put pressure on women to pretend they don't care, because people can do that - unwittingly or otherwise. Respect them. This isn't a cake walk.

The first trimester tiredness

Quite a few women have compared the first trimester tiredness to getting hit by a steam train (I'm wondering if they all have direct experience of the latter?!). In any event, I'd say that's a pretty accurate call.

What I have to say about this tiredness is probably quite different from what others would say. But this is my post and I'll cry when I want to ; ). For me, that tiredness was exquisite. Because there was something I could do with it. Let me explain:

As a chronic insomniac with a serious sleeping problem, this other tiredness was almost divine. My insomnia tiredness is and continues to be the most horrific thing I've ever experienced (and I don't say that lightly) - after night upon night of no sleep, or an hour or two if I'm lucky, what happens to the brain and body is beyond imagination. You walk around with a painful, chemical headache; you cannot function and you're barely able to make it to the bathroom without walking into doors and walls. I've almost been run over a number of times, and have learned that I can't leave the house when I'm in this state. Forget about driving - I can't even walk to the post office. You're agitated and restless because your body's pumping adrenalin through your system to keep you going, but you can't concentrate on anything so there's nothing you can do/watch/read. If it goes on long enough, your body starts shutting down. Like it's preparing to die. You can't eat - and, if you try to, you body throws it up. Because it's in fight or flight mode, and it's all but given up.

But I digress. This post is about pregnancy hehe.

Note: I'm not down-playing the first trimester tiredness because it is huge and I don't know how women who work full-time and onsite actually manage to keep working through it (you're amazeballs if that's you). There's no way I could have done that. What I did with my first trimester tiredness was lie in bed or on the couch, staring at the wall. It was wonderful. I closed my eyes a lot and had a few wonderful nights' sleep, although unfortunately that didn't continue (for reasons I'll explain shortly). That tiredness was like having a much-needed holiday from my brain. Superb. Worth getting preggers again just for that!

The gas, the bloating

Yep. One thing you don't hear about (no matter how common I later found out that it is) is the constant gas. Farting, burping, endless rumbling from within. Charming. Bet you wanted to hear that. But I did say I would be honest so I suppose I have to now. I felt sorry for Mex during this time, but fortunately I was able to blame the constant explosions on Sai (which is the main reason I agreed to having a dog hehe). The feeling is actually pretty terrible - more than you might imagine. It's as though someone is constantly blowing up your insides like a balloon. Hmph.

The grumpies

Another thing that was probably worse for Mex than it was for me. Ha. But, as we agreed, at least my grumpiness was directed. I cracked it over TOTALLY VALID things, like him getting ambulance cover and private health insurance (and got angry with myself for not having my tax in order by 1 July) BEFORE THE BABY CAME because EVERYTHING had to be IN FINE WORKING ORDER BEFORE then. I didn't crack it if he breathed the wrong way (lucky him). That doesn't mean it was fun for him. But it was probably fun for his mates.

The indigestion and gastric reflux

Ach, this one was the kicker. For the last month of my first trimester, I had a violent night-time cough that kept me wide awake most nights - so violent that it made me vomit on a few occasions, purely from the physical force of it. This cough was diagnosed (by a bloke who wasn't my regular GP - she was on leave) as 'maybe' a post-viral cough (I hadn't had a virus) or just a general cold (I felt fine otherwise), or perhaps pregnancy-induced asthma.


Turns out there is such a thing as pregnancy-induced asthma (just as there's apparently such phenomena as pregnancy-induced blindness and bodily growths that look like blisters on your extremities - yep, I got the latter), and my mum had it with one of my brothers. So I used a puffer for the first time in my life. Didn't help.

After this I got suspicious that the gastric reflux I'd been experiencing at night when I lay down (solved by a couple of Mylanta) had actually irritated my throat to buggery, and this was causing the cough. My obstetrician agreed and told me to scale up the Mylanta. That kicked the cough in the teeth and removed it from the sleep-disturbance equation. Thank golly.

The morning sickness

I didn't get it.

Feel free to hate me.

I had about four vomits, total, all at around 1.30am - the timing perfectly executed by my body (although it was probably my mind's fault - always is) so that I wouldn't get back to sleep. Farken brilliant. But I really can't complain about that side of things. Morning sickness is experienced by most women and it usually passes after the first trimester, but not always. I know women who've had it the entire time, the poor things. How awful. Apparently you're more likely to have it with boys, because they put more stress on the body both before and after the birth - although it's really the luck of the draw. My heart goes out to those who've had a bad dose of it; it must be horrible to cope with.

In sum

Do I like being pregnant? NO.

Does this make me ungrateful for the chance to have a child? NO.

Does it make me a bad mother? NO.

Do I wish Mex could undergo a transplant, with me donating my uterus for the next one so he can carry it? YES! (I'd say that's only fair, wouldn't you?!)

The thing is, it's important to say these things because I believe - based on my own experiences - that society (and particularly other women) places pressure on us to be ok with what happens to us when we're pregnant. We're SUPPOSED to embrace it, and people keep telling me to do so.

Bugger that.

The energy I used in trying to embrace it was more taxing to me than just saying 'Fark this, I don't like it and I don't have to.' As soon as I allowed myself to have a whinge about the whole thing, I felt better and relaxed - and just enjoyed the opportunity to be grumpy when I felt like it hehe.

In my opinion, you're allowed to feel upset/weird/annoyed about the myriad of things that happen to your mind/body/life when you're up the duff. And you're allowed to whinge about it too.

Most importantly, you're allowed to completely ignore those buffoons who come out with the following, or any derivations thereof: 'Oh, it's all worth it in the end'; 'It's SO amazing when you start feeling the kicks - you MUST be SO excited'; 'Being pregnant is just blissful. I miss it terribly'; 'I didn't care about getting a fat arse: EVERYTHING'S FOR THE BABY' or whatever other twaddle they spit out - a lot of which is rubbish and wasn't their honest experience at all.

And if you really, truly loved being pregnant...

There must be something seriously wrong with you.

In my humble, totally normal opinion.

Come on ladies, have a comment. How was pregnancy for you? I'd love to hear : ).

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