Pregnancy can be a wonderful time filled with so much excitement. You download those apps that tell you each day what part of your baby is developing and the size of your baby by comparison to some random vegetable.
It’s informative, I for sure had never heard of a heirloom tomato prior to this, I mean what kind of freak tomato is between the size of a bell pepper and banana anyway?!
But despite all the wonderful dreams and fantasies of what pregnancy will be like, the reality can be quite different. From the physical downsides you aren’t prepared for through to the unexpected behaviour of others.
The first trimester
You feel magical, you are growing a human inside you and although you always knew that’s what humans have done since the dawn of time you still feel like some miracle superhuman when your body does it.
But what is this at the time when you are full of excitement?
Anxiety? Suddenly I’m scared to do anything. Don’t lift anything, don’t eat the wrong food, drink all the water. I am consumed with fear that something will go wrong.
I can’t feel anything so there is the constant fear until you can finally get that first scan.
Don’t get me started on the peeing. All day totally fine. Night time, yes that’s the time for hourly pissing. I am so tired.
Your on your way to work, you feel queasy as hell and you are shattered from your overnight peeing spree. But you don’t get any damn seat because you don’t look pregnant. It really is a good 3 months or so before you really see anything and then its hard to tell whether you just ate all the pies.
And then the lovely sickness. Morning you say? Oh no no no. All bloody day sickness you mean.
Body Positivity and the second trimester dream
Of all the things I didn’t consider the unexpected body positivity was a welcome addition.
You suddenly don’t worry about your body. For the first time you have a protruding belly and you don’t care. Bigger the better.
You start wearing things you would 9 normally dream of. No baggy T-shirts for me, hell no, body hugging lycra dress- yes please!
Have my belly hanging out of a bikini? Why not!
I Mean everyone and their dog is telling me I’m glowing after all…. and you probably are in comparison to the pale sickly state you were for the first 6-12 weeks when all you wanted to do is vom.
That second trimester is great. You stop feeling sick unless you are one of the really unfortunate ones who suffers with hyperemesis gravidarum.
You start showing so you no longer look like you’ve been on a burger bender and you are sleeping better. Your hair gets thicker and lusher, and you are more confident in your body.
And the constant peeing stops. Yay.
Birth story over sharing
It’s at this stage in pregnancy when your confidence is at it peak that for some reason this glory you are experiencing seems to draw out some sadistic need in others to scare the living shit out of you.
It’s like they see you, all mother earth and fabulous and are like, right, now is the time this they really needs to know what’s going to happen.
First of all it starts with disarmament.
The smiles and questions about when you are due and how wonderful it is, then SMACK like a sucker punch they start to tell you the horror story of their birth. It’s always the birth story from hell and the train wreck that is their mangled undercarriage.
They reassure you it’s all amazing and they love their children dearly but then spend the next 15 minutes recounting to you the sleepless nights, the stress of their daily lives, the demanding nature of their children and how their relationship with their partner is equivalent to passing ships in the night.
As quick as this ambush is executed it ends with a cheery, “Ah it’s totally worth it though, Congratulations”, then they leave you, reeling from the account.
It’s weird, you don’t seem to hear any GOOD birth stories. It is like the sight of your ever expanding baby bump is a beacon for mothers to debrief and disclose their despair.
Where are all the positive mamas willing to share their magical, Enya playing calm hypnobirths?
Can’t touch this
Not only is your mind free for the ransack, so is your body. For the first time in your life it is all of a sudden socially acceptable for people to rock up and put their hands on your belly. Directly on your tummy and have a good old feel around.
Imagine any other situation where people come along and touch your belly! The universally known no go area and a part of our body we least like being touched. I personally don’t even like my partner touching my tummy really. It is an area many people are self conscious about.
Suddenly the moment that baby bump emerges, complete randoms come up to you and head straight for it with no thought at all. Friends, family, colleagues, and random old ladies in the street!
What is it with a pregnant belly that people need to touch?!
The obsession with Sex and the “gender reveal”
Oh and the questions! The mystic, superstitious and psychic predictions about the sex of your unborn child.
For generations people have utilised old wives tales, tricks and different symptoms or physical attributes about your pregnancy to predict what genitals your unborn child had. People really are obsessed with what teenie little organ is there. The so called “gender reveal”. I personally have nothing against it, althought it wasn’t what I wanted, but I know for some people its really important to do a big reveal. My main issue with it is the pinks and blues and general reinforcing of ridgid gneder sterotypes and the use of the term gender at all. Gender is a construct, it is the sex you are finding out.
What I found the strangest though, was people asking me what I thought I was having.
“Do you have a feeling about what you are having?” “does it feel like a boy or a girl?”
What?!? What on earth do you mean ‘a feeling?’
I feel I’m having a human baby! Other than that I got nothing!!!!
Baby Name Game
Along with the question of sex are the inevitable question of what you intend to name the baby. And wow is everyone so excited to share their ideas of what you should call them.
People you barely know throwing random names your way.
My own mother personally went to the extreme lengths of handwriting me a whole list of names she felt were acceptable for her grandchild. Some real corkers too. Hilarious!!!
We deliberately decided not to share our list of potential names with people in the end, purely because people appear to have absolutely no filters when it comes to speaking with pregnant people about names.
Picture this; someone is in a shop buying clothes. It may even be a friend or a colleague. They pick up some trousers you think are a disgrace to fashion. Do you tell them they have the worst taste, they look shit and they should under no circumstance buy it? Even if they love them? Of course not!
BUT- You share a name that you are fond of with someone and instantly it’s destroyed in an avalanche of negative associations.
“Oh no, not Luke, everyone will call him puke!”,
“Oh my cousins best friends partner was called that and he is an arsehole”!
Or just the need to inform you of any other human in existence that shares that name. And there you have it, the name you had your heart on is ruined. Or even better, don’t tell another pregnant person your choice, I had mine clean stolen!
Ready to pop
Once you get to the last trimester and you are seriously showing and obviously pregnant with no scope for error, that’s when a new wave of fun comes your way. “Wow you look ready to pop”
“when is baby due? You look like you could give birth any minute”
“Are you sure there’s only one in there?”
Ok then, I’m clearly not “glowing” anymore then eh? Even in pregancy there is an element of fat phobia.
This does nothing to hold back any anxiety you already have from all the freaky birth stories either.
You now not only need to worry about the bloodbath that could be the birth but now the possibility it could come at any point with no warning.
Oooh and guess what’s back? Yup that’s right, Peeing! Peeing every bloody minute. All night long.
Baby on Board
See I always thought that once I was preggers I’d be getting all the seats. I would be acknowledged by those around me as the wonderful baby making machine that I am and would be in reciept of all the human kindness I deserved. All that thoughtful standing up and giving up of seats I have done in my time would be returned. This is my time to sit.
But oh no. My pregnant body is basically invisible. People on transport can be real dicks.
I had to commute into central London for work, on packed rush hour trains and people would just feign blindness.
I’d be wearing my baby on board badge and shoving my bump out, stroking it and giving all the “I cannot stand” vibes. I’d be giving the whole carriage death stares and hating the universe and people would raise their newspapers to cover their eyes.
If you were lucky enough to get a seat and be at the window, when you needed to get off there would always be the arseholes who would shimmy their legs to the side, expecting that by some miracle you could squeeze past them with your belly the size of a whale.
One time on my way back from work on a busy train I was standing in the isle wedged between the toilet cubicle and some pig excuse for a human who was huffing and puffing at me while he read. It was packed I couldn’t move and I was so tired. I must have been about 8 months pregnant and this guy genuinely turned to me and said “can you get your bump out of my face?!” I could not believe the absolute audacity. I mean if he had any humanity he would have offered me the seat anyway. Initially I was too nervous and polite to say anything in response to such mean spirited people but by the end of my pregnancy I was taking no more of this BS!
Unbeknownst to this guy I was about to unleash 4 months of stored rush hour pregnancy injustice rage. I stared at him and at the top of my voice so as to cause the biggest scene I could I said “oh I am so sorry, is my unborn baby in your face? Wait a minute, I’ll ask him to crawl back inside my body as far as he can!”. He just looked at me and lifted his book back up covering his face.
Not everyone was like that though, there were also lots of thoughtful and kind people. One couple every single morning on my train, if nobody got up they would get up and offer me their seat, even though they were always sat at the extreme other end of the carriage from where I got on. I never forgot them and their kindness.
I assumed everyone at work would be super excited for me having a baby. And they were at first, until my maternity leave loomed.
“So when are you going on your baby holiday?” people would ask. “How long are you going to be gone for?”
“when will you be back?”
But what I noticed most was the increase in expectations of me towards the end when frankly I had zero energy and couldn’t give a flying fuck about work. Or the passing over me for opportunities I could still do despite my pregnancy. It felt like some people unconsciously wanted me to pay for my absence and possibly even resented it.
Those last weeks of pregnancy can be tough. You are super uncomfortable, my hips were achy and I would sleep at night with a fortress of pillows around me and between my legs for support. My partner relegated to the edge of the bed.
By the time I got comfy I was back up to pee. Man you pee a lot towards the end. It’s really a design flaw because you need that sleep to bank for the months and years of sleepless nights ahead, but nature is like “haha the deprivation shall begin now!”. Nature is a dick!
And when you aren’t peeing you’re swigging that gaviscon like it’s a junkie fix. You area basically perpetual heartburn at that point.
But of course its all worth it, because an amazing thing happens and this little human enters your life, bringing with it unimaginable amounts of love and adoration. It’s everything you ever dreamed of and more. It makes all the pregnancy wackness worth it.
I just hope I don’t end up one of those people, seeing the pregnancy belly beacon, like a moth to the flame, sharing the horror show that was my birth, and crapping all over other people’s name choices.
How was your pregnancy? Were there any pregnancy fantasies you had that were different to the reality?
Let me know in the comments.
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