As I sit here writing at 34 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and indulging on some Nutella and pretzels, something I never actually ate until I got pregnant, I can’t help but think about the wonderful world of being pregnant. I am sooo incredibly overjoyed and grateful to be pregnant, but there are so many crazy things that happen to us while we are expecting, it’s almost hard to narrow it down. However, I think I’ve managed to put together a quite realistic list of more than what to “expect when you’re expecting…” Warning: this is not a composed list of how amazing you feel, because while you feel mentally wonderful, our bodies sure go through the ringer while growing these miracles inside us! So, this is more of a list about the common discomforts women experience while pregnant.
The Top Ten Most Challenging Aspects of being Pregnant:
1) Exhaustion: It’s a different kind of exhaustion that I can’t quite put my finger on, it’s not the staying out all night exhaustion or working a 12 hour shift exhaustion, it’s the exhaustion that comes from your body suddenly supporting not just one, but two living beings now. For no reason at all you will just want to camp out on the couch, bed, chair, nearest willing shoulder to rest your head on and just doze off into oblivion. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if you had a full 8 hours of sleep the night before or if you just came out of hibernation, it will hit you, I promise!
2) Forgetfulness: Vitamin B12 anyone? Not only does your body suffer from sheer exhaustion, but you will start forgetting the most random of things while you are pregnant. Pregnant brain, mommy brain, becoming a total airhead, whatever you want to call it can be difficult to deal with. This is coming from a woman who lives off her to-do lists and she suddenly finds herself wondering where it that she put that to-do list is or why she even made it at all? The woman who thinks she has everything all set in the car before she heads out for the day and realizes she forgot her keys, only to find them later in the bathroom closet.
3) Mood Swings/Extra Emotional: Yes, I understand that as women we are already pretty emotional, but something happens to your feelings when you find out you are expecting. The extra tears, fears, joy, pain, sappy love song or commercial, snappiness, wanting to punch random people in the face or even just give them a hug all has to do with one thing- HORMONES! Please pass the tissues…
4) The Pains: Between back pain, breast tenderness and growth, acid reflux, gas, heartburn, carpal tunnel, TMJ, constipation, stretch marks, sinus pressure, chasing around your first child (if you have one), stretch marks, worsening allergies, cracking pelvis, swelling, or in my worst case scenario gross and terribly bulging varicose veins that require wearing compression stocking daily. Pregnancy changes your body in so many ways, so be sure to take extra good care of yourself as your baby growing inside you is quite literally sucking the life out of you, but trust me is adding a whole lot of love to make up for it!
5) Morning sickness: Not every woman gets this one, and if you aren’t I envy you! With my first pregnancy with my daughter’s it wasn’t so bad, I had it mostly in the morning and I am not one who vomits, but I had the feeling like I wanted to all through those AM hours. During my current pregnancy with my second child I felt sick, morning, noon and worst of all at night during my first trimester. I had to force myself to eat because while I was hungry, literally everything grossed me out. For most women this nauseous feeling subsides or at least gets better by the second trimester, but for some never fully goes away. I still get it some mornings and after certain things I eat…carbs and ginger ale help.
6) Frequent Urination: Before I ever got pregnant I didn’t think this started until the end of pregnancy, boy was a wrong. Not only do you make many more trips to the bathroom than you ever thought possible, but it’s also much harder to hold your pee. When you do get to relieve yourself you expect it to be this huge amount (the kind my husband and like to call ‘A League of Their Own’ pee, you know you remember that scene when hungover Tom Hanks pees for about 6 minutes straight), but it’s not it’s usually quite as huge as you thought. You leave the powder room scratching your head wondering how such a small amount feels so urgent, but not to worry you will be back there soon enough to forget.
7) Temperature Control Issues: Hot, cold, warm? All of the above? Mostly hot for me, which left me apologizing to anyone I used to make fun of before who seemed much more on the warmer side, and I was usually the cold one. Not anymore, though…you won’t always be hot, but for some reason it will be hard to regulate your temperature, especially when you sleep.
8) Shortness of Breath: It’s getting extremely hard to breathe now as I enter into the last six weeks of my pregnancy. Baby starts taking up too much room and sits on your lungs, ribs or whatever else they can find. Sometimes I will find myself doing breathing exercises as if I just came off the treadmill for an hour, if only that were true. Sitting upright helps, slowing down, putting your hands behind your head, taking deep breaths and drinking water helps.
9) Pressure: There’s a pregnancy waddle I’ve been sporting since somewhere after the 20 week mark. It’s kind of like a duck walk, except ducks have much leaner legs. It’s not just because of the weight or because of back, hip or leg pain, it’s from the pressure you feel on the lower portion of your body and shifting your weight helps. So you ultimately start to tilt and sometimes even lose balance because of it. I actually twisted my ankle on my due date with my daughter due to losing my balance and mistepping, and then really had to stay off my feet until she decided to make her appearance four days late.
10) Getting ready for baby/life with baby: You’ve got the room set up, you’ve got your bag packed, you’ve got your birth plan all lined up, and have an awesome amount of diapers ready. Think you’re prepared for when that little bundle starts to contract? Or that you are ready when your water breaks? Or you’ll be able to handle this tiny little person when you’re blissfully on your way home with that little one from the hospital? Think again, you will never be completely ready! But the good news? You will learn, there will be ups, downs, highs, lows, moments when you don’t think you can handle it, moments when you wonder what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into…but it will all truly be worth it! Because with all the stress also comes a brand new outpouring of love that you’ve never experienced. This love will fill you up and help you pull through and soon feel gleeful again when you hear that first little coo, or see that first little smile, successfully breastfeed, successfully burp, bathe or handle your baby all by yourself alone, or get more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Having a child is a complete whirlwind and I am still learning, my daughter and 3 ½ and my son is due in a little over a month and I still get scared. I still have days where I feel totally awesome and then days when I feel like a total failure. I can tell you this though; IT’S ALL TRULY A LABOR OF LOVE AND A DREAM COME TRUE! So to all my fellow preggers out there past and present, whenever you get a chance to, which can be very difficult, pat yourself on the back, sit back, put your feet up, smile and tell yourself you’re doing a good job. 😉 ~J