Having done this for 24+ weeks now,I think I’m really starting to find all those little old-wives-tales and pieces of advice that people are giving me really aggravating. They may be well-intentioned but after the 13th or 20th time hearing it, I just don’t care anymore. I probably cannot count anymore how often I have gone back to my doctor and asked about the advice I’ve been given, or the news article someone told me about. Afterwards, new people approach me about the same issues and I have to (in an attempt at politeness) correct them.
1> “You shouldn’t drink that.”
I literally could not keep track of how many people judged me because I continued to drink soda after finding out I was pregnant. Can caffeine be harmful to a fetus? The jury is out! There are so many contradicting studies out there that it’s hard to pin down caffeine as a singular culprit for either stillbirth, abortion, or abnormalities. Doctors will recommend that an expectant mother cut back on her caffeine (mine did) but that it is not necessary to quit cold-turkey. In fact, just quitting can be bad for a mother and her baby. Caffeine is a stimulant. Just quitting drinking caffeine has not only physical side effects (like headaches and fatigue) but also can have psychological ones too (like depressed mood and irritability.) So while it is often recommended to cut back on your caffeine if you find yourself pregnant, don’t think you have to just stop. Recommendations range from 100-200 mg of caffeine being safe. That’s actually less than you find in a single serving of 5-hour Energy! Here’s the real kicker…caffeine is in more than just your drinks. It’s in cocoa, so all those candies and chocolates we love, pudding, ice cream, even granola bars with chocolate chips. It’s also in many pain relievers (even hidden in some of the ones my doctor said I could have, I had to start reading labels everywhere on everything!), so-called “energy water” and other labeled “energy” products which have expanded to include certain brands of sunflower seeds, oatmeal, jerky, and even some breath fresheners!
2> “Oh, she’s just upset/cranky/crying/etc. because she’s hormonal.”
Uh, no. Am I prone to tearing up? Yes. Do I cry over stupid things? Yes. Did either of these apply pre-pregnancy? Yes. Am I crying easier during movies or reading books? Maybe. Considering how into books and movies I’ve always gotten I honestly couldn’t tell you if there was a difference! Last night my husband and I were joking around. For whatever reason, something that he said hurt my feelings. Did I turn into a bawling mess on the spot? No. Did my husband even notice that I was upset? Not right away. This was a normal situation for us. We had a tiff, people do that, no matter how close they are or how much they love each other. If you’re pregnant and something upsets you, do NOT let other people dismiss your feelings as being a product of your pregnancy! Your feelings, be they sad, feisty, or other, do not lose their validity just because you happen to be carrying life. I am no more feisty with my friends and family and co-workers now than I was before January. I am not getting into any more fights with my husband in the last 2 months than I did in the last 2 years. My “hormones” do not change who I am or how I respond to the world so much that I somehow became an out-of-control emotional basket-case.
That being said, I also know who I am and how I normally respond to the world, most pregnant women do. If at some point I started to react in ways that I knew were not normal or were even dangerous (e.g. I started getting really depressed or anxious or started thinking of hurting myself, the baby, or anybody else) I would seek help, the same way I would if I weren’t pregnant because those kinds of thoughts are not normal for me or for any emotionally healthy and stable person.
3> “Enjoy this time, it will be over before you know it.”
This one…this one. Where to even start. While it’s true that 9 1/2 months can fly by pretty fast, I’ll tell you now: it’s not that fast. In fact, I’m pretty sure my 9 1/2 months are dragging their feet. But to be perfectly honest the last few months haven’t gone by any faster for me than the last 4 years. I get up, I get dressed, I go to work, I come home, I clean, I cook, I walk the dog. My day to day life and routine have not changed. And the changes I have had to endure…well, as I said, I had to endure. I’ve been sick for weeks on end. I have learned to live without many of my favorite foods because they have stopped appealing to me or cause bouts of full-blown sickness. I have nearly fainted/been sick on several occasions from the heat. I’ve endured migraines on a regular basis (because I can’t take my migraine-preventative medication). I am now at the stage where the baby kicks…a lot. And that is a whole different weird I’m not covering here. I have heartburn (never had it a day before in my life and now deal with it on a pretty much daily basis). Forget being comfortable. I haven’t been comfortable since April. Sleeping, sitting, standing, doesn’t matter. Just give up, I have. Seriously, do not feel bad if you are just waiting for that light at the end of the tunnel. You are not alone.
4> “Isn’t it so cool/neat/beautiful feeling the baby move?”
People say this one to me and I seriously just want to look at them and respond “You’ve never been pregnant have you?” I can’t of course. That is neither a polite response nor is it necessarily true. This has been said to me by people who I know have been pregnant. They were those lucky women who obviously enjoyed their time being incubators. I ignored feeling the baby for as long as I could before I had to admit that the weird squishy, icky, crawly feeling in my abdomen wasn’t just my digestive track doing the mambo. Nope those were little feet and hands already beating me up and feng shui-ing my organs. It was a really bizarre moment when I was laying down and could actually start seeing my abdomen doing that weird bouncing-kicked-jump-thing. Oh, yeah, that gave me a slight heart palpitation, I’m not ashamed to admit it.
5> “You must be so excited; you’re just glowing!”
No, actually I’m sweating. Seriously. I run probably 20° warmer now than I have my entire life. I’m usually the one to say I’m freezing and need 10 more blankets on the bed. Now, I’m looking at my husband as we’re getting ready for bed and going “Honey, can you turn the A/C down, I’m hot.” The first few times this happened, I think he nearly fell over in shock. Also, fun fact. I have about a third more blood in my body right now than normal (or I will at some point in the next 3 months, jury is out). So all my blood vessels are probably a bit over-worked and crowded. But of course, must be polite. Smile and say “Thank you” and get used to people telling you this. It’s gonna happen the second people find out or you start to really show. You’ll be “glowing” even if you really just feel like you’re melting.
6> People want to touch your baby bump.
I haven’t dealt with this the way all other pregnant ladies seem to have. Maybe it’s just me, it’s totally possible. But I’ve been showing for a while now and I haven’t (thankfully *knock on wood*) had some random stranger approach me and try to put their grubby paw on my tummy. It might also be because I’m just that hostile looking in public. I don’t know. I’ve had friends and even family who touch the bump and I have bitten my tongue to not be a queen B and say “Paws off”. It’s my personal space and somehow I find myself much more possessive of it since I’ve been pregnant. Some of it might also be self-consciousness. After all, what woman wants her stomach touched? I mean, seriously, that’s just weird and awkward. (On a similar note, the first time someone told me I “looked” pregnant I felt like I was being slapped. I’ve had weight issues my whole life and am very conscious of my body so to have someone sit there and say that I looked pregnant in my warped little brain was equivalent to being told I looked fat. I know that’s not how it was meant and I got over it but it was that immediate gut-instinct reaction to what was said that had been honed for years. So I have a feeling somehow people are picking up on my ‘don’t look, don’t touch, don’t say anything’ vibe.)
7> “Seeing the baby for the first time (on ultrasound) is so emotional!”
Honestly, I don’t really remember it. I’m really glad there were pictures taken because the whole time with the sonographer is a blur to me. I was too busy going over the checklist as the sonographer did: checking the heartbeat, checking the spine, checking the organs, measuring bone lengths and baby length. I remember seeing her little heart pumping. I remember counting ten little fingers and ten little toes. I remember being told “It’s a girl”. That’s about it honestly. Most of me was so focused on making sure the baby was healthy that I couldn’t have cared less. I’ll admit I did tear up a little seeing her little fists opening and closing (while we were counting fingers) and realizing that she was really there and really okay. Did I cry? No. Do I remember much else? No. I was too busy being grateful she was looking totally healthy and normal. Now ask me if my husband cried. I think he might have. Just a few manly tears of course.
Now all that being said, would I undo becoming pregnant? No!! Absolutely not. Yes, I spend a good deal of time being miserable in one way or another. Yes, I have been dealing with stress and life changes and those moments when suddenly it all hits you again and you go “Oh crap, I’m going to be someone’s mom!” And you subsequently freak out for a bit. Do I hate being pregnant? 99% of the time, oh yes. I am counting the days, even the hours, until it’s October.
But I also know that when 9 1/2 months are over and I’m holding that squirming little bundle in my arms for the first time and she looks up at me, it’ll have been worth it. The anxiety, the sleepless nights, the discomfort, the nausea, the exhaustion. Knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is my daughter is the thing I hold closest to my heart, the thing that will and does make me an emotional basket-case who just starts crying. When that knowing hits me (as it does out of the blue sometimes while doing normal routine things like grocery trips) and I realize how much my life is going to change, I just tear up and sniffle and check how much longer I have to endure. I endure for that light at the end of the tunnel and a smile I’ve never seen but am already coming to cherish so much.
…And who knows. If I like motherhood enough, I might just let my husband convince me to try and have a little boy in a few years (after I’ve forgotten how much being pregnant sucks.)