While I turn to my baby books from time to time just to make sure I am not crazy (it never works–I’m usually crazy), I still find them demoralizing. Most of the books will tell you some of the things to look forward to in pregnancy as well as pretty much everything under the sun that can go terribly, terribly wrong. I don’t mind the sections about the possible chances of my child having a tail or extra appendages, because I genuinely enjoy any chance I can get to join support groups. I just sometimes feel like maybe the authors aren’t really being honest about pregnancy and what a new mother might actually be thinking and feeling. While I may not have clinical proof that my experiences can be generalized to all women, I still feel compelled to offer my version of a month-by-month look at what pregnancy is like.
You think you are pregnant, but you aren’t sure. Your husband’s words still ring in your ears from the last time you freaked out and bought a box of pregnancy tests: “Next time, just pee on this twenty dollar bill.” You decide that it’s still OK to drink at a party. Two mojitos, three shots of tequila, and one really bad karaoke version of “Don’t Stop Believing” later, you realize you may have made a horrible mistake.
Still too cheap to buy a pregnancy test, you will agonize over every little change in your body. Why are corn dogs so delicious? Why can’t I fit into my jeans? Is it because of all the corn dogs? You will finally cave and buy three pregnancy tests from the dollar store because two out of three ain’t bad. When the first test is a clear positive, you will doubt the validity of the dollar store tests, yet will proceed to take the other two while your husband panics. When all three tests come back positive, you will tell your husband the news and he will read your face to try and know how to react. The rest of the month you will walk around like you are secretly the Queen of the Universe because, well, you are.
By this month you should have Googled every known thing that can go wrong and if you have not yet believed that you have experienced at least 75% of these things, then you haven’t Googled enough. You Google some more.
This month, you should plan on having a mental break-down. Your husband will do incredibly insensitive things like forget to put the toilet seat down or up depending on how you feel that day. He may also make rude remarks like, “Can you pass me the salt?”
You try on maternity clothes that are enormous, yet your own clothes will be so ridiculously uncomfortable; pinching nerves you didn’t know you had and making you sweat in places you didn’t know you could. You will look in the mirror at yourself in maternity pants and realize that some idiot man clearly made these clothes for his elderly aunt with horrible taste and your butt will for sure never get that big.
You will rush to have your husband feel the baby’s kicks and just as he places his hands on your abdomen, the baby will refuse to move, causing him to suspect that this pregnancy thing is just a ruse for the whole corn dog fiasco a couple months ago. And you will wonder if it was just gas or the baby. The answer is “yes.”
As you are hit by the realization you are at least halfway through your pregnancy, you will begin to completely rearrange everything in your life. Furniture, personal goals, and vacation plans now all have something to do with the baby. You try to relax, but you will break down the next few months into events before the baby comes. You will begin to lament all of the things you have yet to do
“But I haven’t seen Mount Rushmore! I’ve never gone to China or even eaten good Chinese food for that matter. When will I ever get another opportunity to meet Oprah?”
There will be no rational answer to any of these questions. You will also wonder why your thighs are suddenly so big. The rational answer to this question is, of course, ‘corn dogs.’
This month you will look in the mirror and realize that your thighs are actually getting smaller so you will pull out your favorite jeans breathing a sigh of relief and thanking God that pregnancy actually made you skinnier. When you can’t get your ankle past the knee portion of your pants, you will come to the awful realization that you are now freakishly disproportionate and your swelling midsection is actually just making you look like an orange on toothpicks. Still, you can be thankful for this optical illusion.
Refer to Month Four. Your butt got that big. Your new asset will be offset by what some clinically insane people call a “baby bump.” At this point, you will begin to realize that certain activities are nearly impossible. Some are nearly impossible because doing them drives you crazy (dishes, showering, making conversation), but others are nearly impossible because you cannot physically accomplish them without some act of incontinence or simply a general inability to maneuver around said “baby bump.”
You have likely forgotten what it was like to not be pregnant and you are probably feeling pretty good about the way you look and feel. You stop worrying about eating too much at parties because you’re wearing stretchy pants and you can’t possibly have a “food baby.” You might even tell yourself you look like a goddess in your flowing maternity gowns because, you actually do. Enjoy it.
By now, you will have the reflexes of a ninja; quickly fending off the questions, comments, and wandering hands of curious strangers. No matter what you tell them, conversation will likely turn to the many horror stories of birth and childrearing. You should feel free to mentally karate chop these people as you turn and walk away.
Everyone will ask you what the baby’s name is going to be. If you decide to tell them, prepare yourself for the inevitable tale about some red-headed kid they lived next to in second grade who tortured animals and set-fires. You will just smile and nod while secretly fearing that the child inside you might be the next anti-christ if you give him that name. Rest assured, there are a million other things that might make your child a sociopath before his or her name ever will.
This is the final countdown. But it won’t feel that way because this month has the ability to stretch the space-time continuum. Doctors will check you every once in a while and you will be given numbers about things happening “down there” that don’t make a ton of sense, yet these numbers will be critically important in contributing to your panic. This is also when the lactivits, people with opinions about vaccinations, natural vs. medicated birth, and cloth diapers vs. disposables nut jobs come out of the woodwork. Keep in mind that they all want to help, but listen to none of them. This is your life. Literally, the life you made and are responsible for—forever. This is when you will teeter between excitement and trepidation for the future. You will realize that everything is beautiful and awful all at once and you can’t imagine bringing your child into this world. You might even beg for extra time where your baby is safe inside you.
After all your preparations and attempts at stalling, suddenly the day will come when your little one is ready and you will so not be. No matter how it happens, whether you push it out, suck it out, or cut it out, this tiny terrorist who has hijacked your body for the better part of a year will be in your arms. The past nine months of Googling, swelling, dreaming, and worrying will be a distant memory and you’ll begin a lifetime of loving your child–which will likely still include Googling, swelling, dreaming, and worrying. If being pregnant taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain. Life is held in a delicate balance and its outcomes are unpredictable. Thankfully, we are in a tribe of women who have gone before us and will usher in the women who come after us. When they do, we will be sure there are plenty corn dogs and stretchy pants for everyone.