I’ve heard stories about women feeling so maternal and womanly and fulfilled now that their body is doing all the things it’s made to do. They’re filled with warmth and joy is leaking from their still-perfect pores and they’re in love with their ever-expanding bodies.
That glowing woman who lovingly rubs her belly as she flawlessly glides around her home and effortlessly completes day-to-day tasks? Yeah, she doesn’t exist.
I’m convinced a clever PR man created this beautifully packaged load of bullshit to ensure consistent procreation continues. Well done, you sadistic bastard. Well done. Not only have you secured the future of the human race, you’ve set a fictitious standard of pregnancy that, if not met, leaves women feeling inadequate, disappointed and downright defective.
The truth about pregnancy? It fucking sucks.
It all starts with an overwhelming state of consistent nausea. Think hangover on crack with a side of perpetual zombie. Thanks to your fair share of college-driven hangovers, you’ll attempt to combat every urge to regurgitate. Soon exhaustion and consistent failure will kill your willingness to “fight the power” and you’ll spend the majority of your days with your head in the toilet. When a shenanigan-heavy, whiskey-filled night before isn’t to blame, it hardly seems worth it.
A doctor will prescript you Zofran, a tiny little pill meant to quell your queasy woes. If you’re lucky, like me, it won’t work. Instead you’ll become so goddamn constipated you’ll end up all-but-convinced your baby bump is half baby, half backed-up shit. You’ll be afraid to push a poop out because, of course, that will mean early labor or a hemorrhoid or your asshole ripping in two. You’ll already be overly concerned with one specific hole ripping, so bring on the laxatives.
Once everyone knows you’re pregnant you’ll be absolutely perplexed. Unbeknownst to you, all of your friends, relatives, acquaintances and colleagues will have gone behind your back and acquired their MD in maternal and fetal medicine. It’s impressive, considering they’ll have managed to become doctors seemingly overnight, and they’ll be all too excited to share their now-extensive knowledge of all-things reproductive. Oh joy.
Then, of course, there’s anemia to worry about. If you become anemic, like yours truly, you’ll be handed the tiny little red pills of death. You can’t take iron caplets with food so they’ll sit in your stomach all by their lonesome, adding to your nausea and exhaustion. They’ll also turn your shit demonically black, assuming you’ve acquired a set of regularly scheduled bowl movements by then. So, as Mayor of Black Poop City, you’ll experience days when you’re almost certain you’re rotting from the inside out. Until you read the prescription bottle’s label. Again.
If you usually shave your vagina, well, you can kiss your bald beaver goodbye. Primping ole’ Lucifer’s Cradle will resemble a page out of the contortionist training handbook, which will leave you wondering if your real calling resides in some Russian gymnasium. You’ll be hell bent on having hot, wild, passionate sex after the nine month debacle is over, so you’ll insist on shaving as often as possible, regardless of the very real and terrifying possibility you’ll get stuck. You won’t take a shower without your phone, and 911, close by.
You’ll suffer from an overwhelming case of pregnancy brain, in which the ability to remember one’s own name becomes difficult. You’ll look for leftovers under the sink and you’ll put paper towels in the refrigerator and making plans? Sure, just write them in permanent marker on your fucking forehead. Your vocabulary will be cut in half and a constant stream of conscious thought is nonexistent. Hell, trying to write about how difficult it is to write takes seven hours, a few too-many curse words and an overworked thesaurus.
And this is if your pregnancy goes as planned.
If it doesn’t, then you’ll have that moment in an examination room. You’ve had your first major ultrasound and you’ve seen your babies move and they’ve measured neck size and body length and heart rate. You’ll be gushing over pictures and you’ll see the indescribable joy the love of your life has in his eyes and you’ll be, for lack of a more elegant word, happy. Then a doctor will come into the office and you’ll read their face as if skin has transformed to parchment and wrinkles have changed to words. As complications are explained and possibilities are described and percentages are shared you’ll be left overwhelmed, confused, and helpless. You’ll turn to him and hold his hand and he’ll tell you everything is ok, even though you know he can’t promise that anymore than the doctor can. It’s a crap shoot designed by science.
You’ll go through a CVS, where a scene from Pulp Fiction is played out in a hospital room. A doctor will stick an ungodly-sized syringe into your stomach, guided by an ultrasound tech’s steady hand, in order to test for Down Syndrome and a plethora of other heavily-worded conditions you’ll rather not think about. It’ll be painful and uncomfortable and terrifying but you’ll keep your focus on the black and white screen by your side. Your physical being won’t be as important as the being growing inside you and in that moment you’ll get your first taste of motherhood. Fuck.
When the tests come back negative and one possibility is eliminated from the scenario that is your nightmare, you’ll meet with additional specialists. You’ll lay down through a fetal echo cardiogram and sit through a meeting with a genetic counselor and additional possibilities will be explored. Inevitably, you’ll visit the hospital more often than the bars you once frequented, forever altering what would have been a pleasant experience. You won’t be excited to have an ultrasound or see your doctor because, at this point, you’ll be all-too aware of the chance something will go wrong.
Your immune system is borderline nonexistent so there’s a good chance you’ll get sick. If you do, like me, you’ll be hospitalized with a high grade fever and elevated heart rate and difficulty breathing. You’ll be hooked up to monitors and tubes and you’ll be poked more times than your single self. If you can’t keep food or water down you’ll be stuck with IV fluids, so going to the bathroom requires a highly-skilled team of six, all capable of solving a rubik’s cube in record time. You’ll meet too many doctors to count or remember and, when they’re explaining the same scenarios to you over and over again, all you’ll really be wondering is who’s sleeping with who.
And if the seemingly impossible happens and you lose a child, well, there are no words. Nothing can possibly prepare you for that.
You see, the truth about pregnancy is: every pregnancy is different. Truth is relative and women are so wonderfully unique and nature likes to say “fuck it, I’ll do my own thing”. There are those women who have “perfect” pregnancies and that is their truth. There are others who don’t and pregnancy is absolutely awful and they wonder if their bodies were made to do something else, and that is their truth.
My truth? Pregnancy fucking sucks a bag of dicks.
And while my pregnancy isn’t over and every day continues to be a learning experience I’d rather read about in some reproductive book, I’m constantly thinking either one of three things.
- Fuck that clever PR guy. Seriously, fuck him. Just, you know, make him wear a condom.
- I would love a cold Jack and Coke right about now.
- I wish women would be more open and honest when it comes to pregnancy. You aren’t inadequate or a disappointment or downright defective if pregnancy doesn’t leave you all bubbly and happy and baby-shower-excited. Perhaps pregnancy is supposed to be a giant pain in your now-gigantic ass. Maybe, like most everything else in your life, the best, most wonderful, most amazing things come from the hardest, darkest and most difficult of times.
Hardest, darkest and most difficult. That reminds me. I have to poop.