The Unexpected: Part 2

Somewhere around 20 weeks I wrote Part 1 with the notion that there would surely be enough material to inspire a sequel…and then forgot all about it. I’m not sure if much has truly surprised me since then – but that’s more to do with just getting used to an endless parade of weirdness than with things being “normal” per se. So at (the end?) 40 weeks, here we go:

Bleeding gums – diving right in since, as the journalistic maxim goes, “if it bleeds, it leads”. This really should have been included the first time around since it has been happening right from the start. In my experience, it doesn’t matter how dedicated your oral hygiene or historically flawless your dental track record, you will bleed every single time your teeth are grazed by brush, floss or stiff breeze. Pregnancy hormones do this, because they are multi-tasking life-ruiners. #science.

Things don’t necessarily get worse – This is a pretty good one. There were times where some shitty symptom or pain would surface and I would think (or be told) “that will only get worse”. But this hasn’t really been true at all. Things get different, perhaps even equally crappy or annoying, but not every little thing will necessarily get progressively worse. Lots of aches and pains come and go with no trace. If you have shooting pains in your hip one month – they may completely go away the next. Exhausted in the first trimester? That may never resurface again (it hasn’t for me). And on and on.

Leaking boobs – I guess technically I knew this happened, but I figured it would be much closer to baby time. But nope, you can start leaking sticky, clearish fluid (colostrum) at any point, although usually in your third trimester. I think I was around 30 weeks? If that. And for the record, your nipples do a lot of disturbing shit when you are pregnant. They will change shape, size and colour about 5 times and every time it is freaky and gross. Everyone assures me they go back to normal eventually.

Sleep (for better and worse) – I am an unnaturally sound sleeper, and always have been. Despite the dire warnings, I have continued to sleep like a baby all the way through. I may toss and turn and say, “ow, ow ow!”, waking Andrew up all night, but me? I’m still dead asleep and fine. So that’s been good – for me. For the past 4 weeks or so though, everything has been falling asleep really easily. I always wake up with at least a couple appendages down for the count, and if I stay in any position too long, pins and needles are par for the course. Thanks to nerve compression and cellular swelling (even though I’m not visibly swollen) I also have 3 fingers on my right hand that have been 20-75% numb for well over a week. It’s a sort of pregnancy carpal tunnel effect that is really annoying.

Heartburn sucks – before I was pregnant I didn’t even really understand what heartburn or acid reflux was. Now I know it’s Devils juice corroding away your soul. Heartburn can be so bad that labour starts to look good. I think this may actually be part of the divine strategy for propagating our species.

Still, how little happens at the doctor – I still haven’t had a single internal exam, or anything more involved than measuring my belly, listening to the heartbeat and taking my blood pressure. You see the doctor for maybe 5-10 minutes on every visit. Yet somehow your appointment will still take 30-60 minutes with waiting time.

The unexpected.

Seeing as I’m only halfway through this pregnancy, this post will probably end up being a two-parter since I’m sure there are plenty of delightful (ha) revelations in store. For now, these are just a few of the things about pregnancy that have surprised me.

Boobs. I went up a cup size practically overnight very early in my pregnancy and they are still slowly inflating.  Although having smallish boobs never bothered me, I’m still kind of surprised by how much I don’t enjoy having bigger ones. In a nutshell: not all they’re cracked up to be. For one thing, they kind of just make you look fatter than you are, especially if you’re already sort of chunking out, as you are when you’re in the baby manufacturing biz. They’re always in the way and they’re just generally a bit of a pain in the ass. Er, chest. As a novelty item (like a goofy hat) they’re kind of fun, but I won’t be the least bit upset when they go.

Alcohol. If you enjoy an adult beverage (or 6) it might surprise you how much you don’t actually miss it. At first it’s super easy to abstain because you feel so nauseous and sleepy, you don’t even feel like it. After that, it’s just somehow not really on your radar. I still like hanging out in a bar/pub or meeting up for “a drink”. I’ve actually enjoyed drinking things like Shirley Temples and weird restaurant mocktails. Because I’m not 100% abstaining, it’s probably been easier on me. I would probably be very, very jealous if I wasn’t letting myself have the odd drink, but I’m usually totally happy with that one occasional treat and never feel unhappy that I can’t have another one. Plus, it’s awesome never feeling hungover, dehydrated or headachey…if you drink regularly you probably don’t even realize how sorta, kinda, vaguely shitty it’s making you feel until you totally cut it out for a while. I think everyone would seriously be surprised by how much booze affects your body, even if you’re not drinking enough to feel drunk or get a true hangover from it.

Doctor’s visits. For some reason I thought that doctor’s visits would entail more than they actually do. Specifically, and this might sound incredibly stupid, I thought I’d end up undressing a heck of a lot more than I have. Which is…not at all. I don’t know why I thought I’d have to?…the baby is inside you, so I figured they’d have to check things out in there somehow?! I don’t know. But I certainly thought I’d wind up in a drafty paper gown and stirrups at least some of the time. And perhaps I will later on? Surely they must check your cervix etc. as you get closer?  But so far, the only time I actually had to gown up was when I went for a really early ultrasound and it was kind of pointless because it ended up not even being a transvaginal (yup, that’s a wand up your hooha) ultrasound. Other than that, I’ve had to unbutton my jeans once or twice to hear baby’s heartbeat when she was still situated really low in my abdomen, but that’s it. Basically you go in, weigh yourself, have your blood pressure taken, answer a bunch of questions (and ask any that you may have), they feel your belly for where the uterus is and then you listen to baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler and go on your way. Easy peasy.

Food aversions. Everyone talks about the cravings, but it’s the aversions that took me by surprise. It’s almost impossible to remember or understand how much I hated so many foods during the first trimester. I developed the palate of a picky 5 year old. Things like hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and mac ‘n’ cheese were all good. Almost all cooked vegetables were totally off the table, even my usual favourite ones, in addition to lettuce or any leafy green, garlic and parmesan. All I really wanted was protein, bland carbs, apples and coffee . It sucked because not eating made me nauseous, but eating was such a chore.

How fast it goes. This has been a pleasant surprise. So far, time has absolutely flown. I have a feeling that the second half may drag (like the last couple  hours of a workday) but I can hardly believe I’m 21 weeks in.

How long it takes for anything to happen. Probably because this is my first pregnancy, it took ages to start to be able to see a bump or feel the baby. I’ve still avoided buying maternity clothes and while that bugged me for a while, I’m pretty much over it. I know I will get huge eventually, so fuck it,  I’m happy to just slum  it in leggings and hoodies and accept my freshman 15-ish figure.

How happy I am to have found out the sex. I always knew that I wanted to know, but man, did I need that. It has made a world of difference in how I think/feel about the baby. It’s about a thousand times more real now and I’m so much more excited being able to connect to her as a person–as a she, not an it. I was in a sort of emotional slump at the time, feeling dumpy and bored and anxious between appointments. It was a huge boost that I really needed at that point and we’ve been having so much fun talking about “her” and trying out names.