Every time I've been pregnant I get kind of panicky at the end. Have I enjoyed it enough? Did I savor the experience properly, in case it was the last time? Did I bond with the baby as best I could? Did I eat well enough, did I yell too much, stress out too much, eat too few veggies, did I listen to music that would enrich his little brain? Should I have stayed off my cell phone, like that recent article in some PregnancyGuilt magazine suggested, in case the emissions are harmful? Did I doom my child to a low IQ because I slacked off on taking my omega-3 capsules? Did I do it right, basically?
In a culture in which most women are only pregnant two or three times in their childbearing years (as opposed to upwards of ten pregnancies, like in the good old days,) I think there is a lot of pressure to enjoy the perfect pregnancy. To wear cute maternity clothes, to keep up your fitness routine, to eat just right for baby, to bond with your baby, to not allow pregnancy to in any way diminish your marriage or sex life, to read all the books, to take birthing and breastfeeding and baby care classes, and of COURSE to prepare a detailed birth plan and then "achieve" exactly the birth you envision for yourself and your baby. I am no exception to this trend. I am the consummate consumer of the idea that there IS such a thing as the ideal pregnancy and birth and babyhood, much as my common sense and experience strives to tell me otherwise. It's a lovely fairy tale that I just keep coming back to.
The other day, to try to combat this mindset of Panic! that I had once failed to realize a blissful pregnancy experience, I started composing a little mental list of things that just plain suck about childbearing, no matter how "right" you try to do it. Here's my list: feel free to add your own contribution in the comment section!
-Morning sickness (a lucky few skip this one; mine has gotten worse each time)
-First trimester fatigue, i.e., Why Do I Feel Like I've Been Run Over By A Bus All The Time?
-Back/hip/sciatic nerve pain (again, doesn't apply to everyone, and certainly varies in severity, but most women are complaining of this by the last trimester)
-Needing to pee constantly (up to and including the utter indignity of needing to WEAR A PAD to handle sudden leaks every time you cough and sneeze due to all the weight of your baby's giant head on your bladder. Um, not that I would know about that at all. Not that I am exceedingly bitter about that at all.)
-Weird skin changes (example: I have had a heat rash this entire pregnancy.)
-Moodiness/irritability (I hear some people don't experience this, or even feel extra peaceful and calm while pregnant. I also hear pigs fly, but you know, it could happen, I guess.)
-Water retention, i.e. Sudden Appearance of Double Chins and Disappearance of Ankles
-Balance/clumsiness issues, eventually leading to the dreaded Pregnant Waddle
-Headaches (not everyone, just a select lucky few)
-Blood pressure and/or diabetes issues (same as above)
-Heartburn (and, uh, RELATED gastro-intestinal issues. Like, everything listed on the side of a Pepto Bismal bottle, basically.)
-Random strangers thinking they can touch your belly, give you advice, tell you what to eat, etc.
-Blood draws, glucose tests and endless, sometimes seemingly pointless doctors' visits, including irritating weigh-ins
-Shaving becomes a real feat, especially in Certain Areas
-Insomnia (I hear SOME PEOPLE end up kicking their husbands out of bed due to their need for four enormous pillows in order to support their back, knees and belly, as well as their need to change position approprimately forty times throughout the night. Or maybe the husbands fled in self defense- the details are a little sketchy.)
-Baby kicks that go from amazing flutters to karate chops on your internal organs that can make you gasp in pain (and also keep you awake at 2Am every night because your baby has deemed it Aerobics Hour.)
-General loss of dignity by the end due to repeated pelvic exams and public weigh ins.
-The constant worrying, no matter how hard you work to suppress it (again, I HEAR this doesn't affect everyone, but I've so far met only one woman who personally attested to it.)
-Stretch marks, which are totally indiscriminate little suckers and can show up on tiny-bellied women while completely bypassing the giant watermelon tummies. It's all up to fate, and Bio-Oil is just an exercise in delusion.
-Last but not least, birth. I don't care if you get an epidural upon admission to the hospital, there is SOME pain involved in getting a baby out of you, either before or after, and it is simply part of the deal. You can't get something the size of a house cat out of any bodily orifice or man made incision without suffering some residual effects, you know?
Next post I'll do the cool aspects of pregnancy, just to keep things fair and balanced, but today is all about reminding myself that many parts of pregnancy do in fact suck, and not just for me but for every pregnant woman, no matter how blissful she may look on the cover of a magazine. Now, what was YOUR least favorite part of being with child? Or your biggest fear about it, if you haven't done it yet?