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Eight Things No One Tells You About Being Pregnant

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[all photographs courtesy of Tatiana Vdb]

As the new mom to a beautiful 2-month-old baby girl, I'm sleep-deprived, exhausted and overall deliriously happy. I'm also getting lots of questions from my newly pregnant friends about how my pregnancy went.

Even in this age of everything being google-able, it's your close friends who will tell you the truth about what really happens during pregnancy. So, consider me your close friend because what I'm about to tell you is unfiltered, raw, and completely truthful. Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it is also a time when you will see your body change, shift, and... drip things... in ways that you never expected.

(Necessary qualifier: All women's pregnancies are different. You may have it better. You may have it worse. But according to my OBGYN and 1 million hours of google searches, I had the most run-of-the-mill pregnancy ever. So, consider me a good middle ground barometer.)


1. Morning Sickness
All the mommy blogs and pregnancy websites think they are letting you in on some big secret by saying "Oh, morning sickness isn't just in the morning." This is not some big secret. Everyone knows that. But you know what isn't really detailed?

First of all, if you do have morning sickness, you will feel like you are hungover for a full 2 months. You wake up hungover, you go to sleep hungover. It's not just nausea and vomiting, it's this hazy shield of grossness that you feel all over. Worse, most women don't tell people they are pregnant until they are out of the first trimester, so you're SOL in terms of getting pity. It's entirely possible that everyone will think you have an alcohol problem. Additionally, in my case, because I didn't look pregnant, my husband couldn't understand why I was sleeping all day and so cranky. This made me into an extremely grumpy, faux-hungover mess.

Secondly, some of your friends who are pregnant will not have any morning sickness. Regarding those lucky few, you will want to kill them.

2. Hemorrhoids

At some point in your pregnancy, you will likely get hemorrhoids. And the only person (until now) whom I've discussed this with is my husband. You may think the romance is down the toilet, but I think it shows a great deal of love and comfort around each other.

Here is an actual excerpt from a GChat conversation, which he will likely kill me for sharing:
Me: I think I have hemorrhoids. What are you supposed to do about this?
Husband: I used to use Preparation H when it got really bad.
M: Do we have some?
H: I'm not sure where it is. Is it weird to share Preparation H Cream?

We decided it was and I got my own. But even if you are someone who has never had them, they will crop up in their red, bloody glory to remind you that there is a baby growing inside you.

3. Swelling
You will swell in unexpected places (meaning not your stomach). Your wrists, your ankles, knees, it's all up for grabs.

A real conversation between my husband and me:
We were at a wedding on Martha's vineyard, outdoors, and I was in a pale pink floor length bridesmaid's dress. So i had it hiked up to my knees to avoid getting grass stains.

Husband: (looks down at my ankles, looks up at me in sheer terror) Babe, those aren't your ankles.
Me: (look down at my ankles) Holy crap!
Husband: (keeps looking at my ankles) It's like your ankles ate 10 other ankles.

They were literally swollen beyond recognition from being on my feet all day. This scene repeated itself on planes, after a day running around the city, or later on just 'cuz.


4. Pregnancy Brain
This is a real thing. It sounds cute and whimsical, right? Yea, in the beginning people will laugh it off. I forgot to cap the toothpaste, or I left my phone in the freezer and made my husband search for it for 20 minutes.

But it stopped being cute really quickly for everyone once I left the paper towels on top of the convection oven, then put some chicken in there on broil. Then, I forgot about it and went into the bedroom. 20 minutes later our cabinets were nicely roasted and the apartment was filled with smoke. And the fire department came. And the building super almost evicted us. So, there's that.

Anyway, there are all sorts of scientific explanations for how your brainpower is focused on the baby so you are forgetful about everything else. But, regardless of the reason, this is a real phenomenon, so if you are like me and don't write things down, now is a good time to start. (Or print out this article and put it on the fridge!)

5. Honeymoon Period of Pregnancy

Hey, some good news! The second trimester is pretty awesome. You may think pregnancy is going to be exhausting, but for me and many others, the second trimester was a breeze.

The morning sickness clears. You are still fully mobile and feeling good. And you have probably made your pregnancy announcement by then so you can start talking about your excitement with your friends.

Enjoy it!

6. Everyone Starts Showing Differently

You may think you will debut your cute little baby bump around 3 or 4 months and everyone will ooh and ahh and try to touch your belly. But every woman's body is different and you may start showing in a weird way.

For me, from months 3-6, I just looked pudgy. The bump really looked more like a distended belly from hitting the buffet. And with the swollen ankles, I just looked like I had put on weight (which meant no seats on the subway for me). By month 7, I actually looked pregnant, which seems pretty late to me.

So, as much as you may be ready to "style the bump" don't be disappointed if it doesn't pop as soon as you thought you would. It will come eventually.

7. Gas
With all the other charming pregnancy side effects comes gas. A girlfriend of mine was pregnant with her first and said she missed the first kicks from her baby because she thought it was just more gas.

Yes, the gas is that intense! It feels like rumblings in your tummy. You can imagine how much fun that is when you are trying to get romantic at night. I say, just make a joke about it and move on.

8. Smells
Your sense of smell is incredibly enhanced while pregnant. That means going out to eat with your friends will be interesting. Some women hate the smell of peanut butter, others can't stand fish. For me, it was chinese food and booze. These are my two favorite things in the world. And yet, while I was pregnant I could not stand to be around them. And because your nose is on hyperdrive, you can't even be around if the person sitting next to you on the subway had kung pao chicken for lunch. It will make you want to hurl.

Which brings us full circle.


That said, the first ultrasound, hearing the heartbeat and feeling the tiny kicks makes pregnancy an incredible experience. Yes, you will be hormonal and uncomfortable, but trust me, it's worth it.