Why doesn’t anyone tell you that pregnancy is awful? I mean, okay, the people whose pregnancies weren’t awful are kind of off the hook here. But, seriously, ladies (and I know you’re out there), why didn’t you tell me how terrible it would be?
Okay, I’m not actually blaming anyone here. But it does seem like there’s a little bit of a taboo around saying anything other than how wonderful it is to be pregnant. Pregnant women are “glowing,” they’re “blissful,” they’re “serene.” They might tell you they had “a little bit of morning sickness” but that they’re fine now, or they might laugh about how their feet no longer fit into their shoes, but that’s about it. No one tells you when it’s not like that.
I think, for some of us, the worry is that we’ll sound like we don’t want the baby if we say that we don’t like the pregnancy. If we admit that we’re actually kind of miserable, then we worry that people will think we’re ungrateful. This is what we signed up for after all. And we really are so excited (with a side of absolutely terrified) about becoming parents. And this is how we’ve opted to become parents. So oughtn’t we to be blissful?
And I know that some of us really are blissful. But there really are others of us who aren’t. Except we don’t talk about it. We all only talk about the good stuff. Which makes it that much more jarring and confusing if you, like me, turn out to be someone for whom it’s not blissful at all. In fact, I was so sold on the whole pregnancy-is-wonderful narrative that someone had to shove a camera up my nose and down into my throat before I faced the facts.
My particular pregnancy-related torture scenario was a very severe form of acid reflux. I’m not talking a little heartburn after eating, I’m talking about the constant feeling that a gelatinous, spiky blob the size of a ping pong ball was lodged in my throat. It made me gag, it made me vomit, it made my mouth taste like it was full of a combination of pennies and dirt. And it was there, all the time, for forty weeks.
I kept going to my OBGYN, begging him to solve my problem. What was wrong with me? Why was this happening? Pregnancy is supposed to be wonderful! He sent me to all kinds of specialists — different obstetricians, gastroenterologists, ENT doctors. But it was only after the ENT guy looked into my throat with the camera to make sure there wasn’t actually a spiky ping pong ball in there, that I finally understood. “You’re just pregnant,” he told me, kindly. “It affects everyone differently. This is what’s happening to you.”
I think we’re all doing each other a disservice by not talking about the bad along with the good. See, when that nice doctor finally explained to me that, for some people, pregnancy is actually pretty awful, I felt much better. (Not physically better, I still felt like a total train wreck physically. But emotionally better. Psychologically better.) I was kind of like, Oh, I get it, pregnancy sucks and I just need to get through this. It took away the disconnect between what I thought I was supposed to be feeling (wonderful), and what I actually was feeling (like death warmed over).
What would it be like if we actually told each other the truth? If we shirked the whole “pregnancy is blissful and wonderful and radiant” narrative (unless it actually applied to us), and told each other honestly that it’s actually kind of hard. We’re growing other human bodies inside our own human bodies! There’s bound to be a little fallout.
Every person is different. Just like every baby is different. And every pregnancy is different. Some people really do have blissful pregnancies. But some of us do not. I mean, forget spiky ping pong balls, there’s nausea, swollen ankles, food aversions, heightened smell, acne, back pain . . . I mean, the list goes on and on. (And I’m not even talking about the severe stuff that requires bedrest or hospitalization.) Pregnancy is no joke! Let’s stick together as moms, okay? Let’s try not to make each other feel bad for feeling bad. Pregnancy can really suck. There, I said it.
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