Pregnancy: expectations and reality

One of the first things I did after seeing those two pink lines on the pee stick was go and buy a jar of pickles. From what I understood, it would be a very necessary tool in the following several months to satisfy the hunger cravings that would inevitably come my way.

But here we are, 34 weeks later, and that jar remains unopened – and not just because I’m too weak to open it.

It turns out I'm not the only one who's made this mistake.

It turns out I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake.

Perhaps I’m a rather atypical pregnant woman, but I have actually found that a lot of the things I thought I knew about pregnancy – including some of the “What I really wants” from this amusing Venn diagram – have just been downright wrong. And at 38.5 weeks pregnant, I now feel like I’m in a place to discuss my experience with some of these expectations of pregnant ladies.

Cravings

Besides the need for pickles, I was under the impression that I, like every pregnant lady depicted in the media, would at some point wake my husband up at 3 a.m. with an outrageous demand – “Honey, I need you to find me chicken fingers and dip them in melted chocolate. And I also need a wheel of cheese. Don’t ask questions.”

But this never really happened. Sure, there have been times when, at 3 a.m., I’m suddenly desperate for food. These hunger pangs have always been satiated by something “normal,” though, and something I’m perfectly willing and able to prepare for myself.

And, to be honest, there was one time where I was desperate for ice cream. I almost cried when I didn’t get ice cream. But then I got ice cream, and everything was okay.

Trips to the bathroom

Despite everything I’ve ever seen and heard, my trips to the bathroom have not really been more frequent.

That said, I will admit that when they happen, they do seem to happen with increased urgency. So there’s that.

Uncontrollable pee

I have yet to lose bladder control while sneezing. Or in any situation, actually.

Morning sickness

I threw up three times total during my pregnancy. Twice, it was because I took my prenatal vitamins at the wrong time without food. Once also happened to be on a walk on New Year’s Day. I’m sure the neighbours drew different conclusions about why I was sick.

Hair and nails

If morning sickness has got you down, fear not, say all the baby books and websites. It’s all worth it because your hair and nails will be incredible. Your head hair will be fuller and shinier and your nails will be stronger.

To be honest, I haven’t noticed a difference on this front, either. But maybe it’s because my hair and nails were already incredible.

Yeah, I said it.

Stretch marks

Listen, pregnancy is not an easy process for the human body. The uterus’ capacity grows about 1,000 times over the course of the pregnancy, and once all of the body’s other organs have been crushed into oblivion, there’s no where else to grow but outward. It all happens pretty quickly, and most women – some information estimates about 90 per cent – get stretch marks where their skin just has a hard time keeping up with the parasite inside them.

After doing some research early on, I decided I would do nothing to try and prevent stretch marks, because science suggests that’s exactly what you can do.

Here I am, no stretch marks. Maybe I hit the genetic lottery, or maybe my skin has some secret advantage because I used to be more than 100 lbs. heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. Either way, I’m not complaining.

Belly button

I’ve been waiting for four months for my belly button to pop from its usual “innie” state to become an “outie.” The books all explain that probably at some point in the second trimester, my rapidly expanding uterus should have pushed my abdomen forward, causing my belly button to invert itself.

Much to my husband’s dismay, this has not happened. Although my once cavernous navel is now a bit more like a kiddie pool, I don’t think this one’s going to come to fruition, either.

Nesting

In the animal kingdom, hamsters tear up whatever they can find to build nests for their soon-to-be-born young. Humans, along a similar vein, clean. And organize. And cook.

I have a hard time commenting as to whether I have experienced full-fledged nesting.  Moving about 1,000 kilometres means you have to organize and clean an entire house. Twice. I have been rather dutiful and productive in both tasks, but I can’t say that there was an overwhelming instinct to do so. It just needed to get done.

On the cooking front, I have started my quest to cook at least one big “freezer meal” a day for post-partum consumption, but again, I feel overwhelmed by practicality, not by some primitive sense of panic.

These factors all lead to me kind of shrugging when people ask me about nesting. Not really?

There is one big “except.” I haven’t really felt a nesting instinct except when I finally got the chance to set up baby’s room. I got the painting done in a day. I built the glider and washed everything and made wall art and built a little shelving unit. And when I thought we weren’t going to get a shelving unit like the one I’d imagined, it came to tears.

So, yes really.

Crying

Speaking of tears, I cannot deny that I have had an… umm… expressive pregnancy.

To be fair, I did start from a place of tears. At my (non-pregnant) best, I still cried in response to intense emotions – good or bad. But it seems that in pregnancy, what qualifies as “intense” is a little, well, broader.

A couple weeks ago, I was in tears when we pulled up to the kennel where we were leaving our dogs for a few days. I just saw a small, fenced in area off the side of the house, and it was – horror! – uncovered. Is that really where our dogs are going to be? What if it rains? What if they get sad? We can’t leave them here Mr. B! We can’t! He convinced me that they would probably have to stay there anyway, so we went in to talk to the kennel owner, who explained that there was a large fenced area out back and that at night, the dogs all came inside and got to sleep on the furniture and even in bed with her. I nearly cried again, this time out of relief and happiness.

And a couple weeks before that, I made a home made pizza. My husband was a bit late coming home from work, so I spent a little extra time drooling over all the delightful aromas I had created. By the time he was on his way and I popped the pizza into the oven, I had built this pizza up to be the best pizza my taste buds would ever have the pleasure of rubbing against. But when I took the pizza out of the oven, I dropped it. The toppings went everywhere. And before I had even processed what happened, there were tears streaming down my face.

So yes, I can vouch that crying can become a little more routine for pregnant ladies.

Ice cream

As the Venn diagram suggests, this is the one area that is absolutely spot on. And my experience has suggested the same thing. As I described earlier, the only intense craving I ever had was for ice cream.  I have absolutely developed a sweet tooth during the course of this pregnancy, and ice cream has always hit the spot. It’s not uncommon these days to spot me with a tub and spoon in hand.

And just the other night, while my husband was working nights, I sent him an early morning text to check in and see how he was doing.

“What are you doing up?” he asked – a reasonable question at 3 a.m.

“Ice cream.” That was my entire response.

And that, friends, is the most pregnant thing I have said in the past nine months.

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3 thoughts on “Pregnancy: expectations and reality

  1. had a laugh at this……and i agree with you except for going to the bathroom more often and cravings, mine was for roasted cheese.
    ps i’ll stop with the advice……nah, you’d think i was sick .

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