1. You need to pee 10 times a night
On the outside there are no physical signs of change. But internally, your bladder has instantly shrunk from grown-up size to activated almond-size, which means your once-a-night stagger becomes a pilgrimage repeated three times plus. And we’re not talking the usual drowsy stumble. Suddenly you’ll bolt upright then race to the bathroom with urgency reserved for bus catching or Boxing Day sales. Seriously, it’s like some kind of midnight Tracey Anderson ab workout. My advice: clear a path and claim the closest side of the bed. Your relationship with the porcelain only gets more intimate from here on in.
2. Everything tastes like rotting seaweed butter
Some mums-to-be report a “metallic” taste. But that’s kind of misleading because chewing on aluminium foil is vastly preferable to the weird, fetid, sweaty, sewerage that all of a sudden starts swilling over your tongue. Like much of pregnancy (hell, and much of child-raising in general), it’s the perfect torture of attrition – no visible signs, no actual physical impairment – just an invisible sense of wrongness that increasingly screws with your brain. I mean, what would you do to get rid of said taste? Put as many eye-wateringly intense flavours in there as possible, right? Hence a pregnant woman’s craving for anchovies dipped in peanut butter. Topped with cottage cheese. And jalapenos. On a bed of canned spaghetti.
3. Your boobs inflate like Lana Del Rey’s lips
You know, not enough to seem faux. Just enough to take on all the bee-stung glory of a woman in full. Of course, said puffage comes with the requisite tenderness you might expect. Sleep on your tummy at your own peril.
4. You can really, really smell things
Who knew the world was so full of smells? I mean, pouring out of homes, running over at your desk at work, loitering on the street only to jump up, punch you in the face and then run off again. Bastards.
5. Your fatigue is so overwhelming you can’t think
If normal thought is like drawing a straight line from one side of the page to another, pregnant thought is like starting on one side and heading in the right direction only to waver, wobble, and then fade out to absolutely nothing. Consider this your new MO. Not only for thoughts, but actions, motivation and energy in general. For yogis, and this might not be so disconcerting. But for alpha females, who basically burn the gas of pure motivation to stay alive, it’s a life-changing shift. Not only do you suddenly lose motivation, you lose your reason for being motivated in the first place. Which is enough to make any VSCO-toting, overachiever clench her pelvic floor muscles and not let go.
6. The face in the mirror is different
Maybe you’ll notice darker freckles under your eyes. Or a lightness to your cheeks. Or a curious outbreak of chimples (chin pimples), bacne (back pimples) or bumples (you get the idea). Admit it: you’ve been agonising in front of the mirror and wishing your looks would change every day since, well, forever, and then suddenly the mirrors throws up the unexpected. What’s a girl to do? Squint her eyes, look away, look back and pretend it’s not happening. Yep. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.
7. There’s a strange tingling around your middle
Being pregnant, for the most part, doesn’t involve having a massive gut. Repeat: those ladies you see cradling their bumps (usually in a field, at sunset, with a crown of flowers on their heads, wearing flowing white muslin – *sigh*) they’re in the very final stages of pregnancy – nine months from where you are. For the first three months, you’ll see practically nada except the effects of your own appetite finally unfettered and left to pilfer the fridge as it so desires. But despite the fact there’s no physical signs around your middle, sometimes, for no reason at all, you’ll get the sense something is going on. It’s nothing tangible. But more like the sensation of the seatbelt snaking around your middle. Or bending over with floaty around your gut. In my imagination, it’s the feeling of human cells/dark matter coalescing and coagulating and concocting a personality from nothing. Or that could be the constipation talking.
8. There’s a fluctuation in the force
OK, this one is going out on a limb, but something about being pregnant creates a ripple… in your spirit. Nothing concrete; more like de ja vu, or a ghost in the shell. It’s a lingering, niggling sense that’s as powerful and immaterial as a gust of wind. It’s that feeling you get when you know things are going to change.
So how can you tell you’re pregnant? You know aside from forking out for that $10 pregnancy test that’s all just a little too scary? You can’t. I mean, you’ve heard of those ladies who go to the toilet and are like “Whoops! There goes a baby!”, right? What they – and you, if you’re beginning to suspect you’re in a fix – may be desperately clinging to is denial. Because the truth is scary. Because being pregnant is simultaneously horrifying and thrilling and natural and the one thing you were actually out on the planet to do that’s utterly, completely out of your control.
From a corporeal perspective, the signs of pregnancy are as obvious as traffic lights. But compared to signals to repost, double-tap, or like, they’re flags we’re completely unable to recognise. But that’s the great thing about having a kid. Being pregnant – and ultimately giving birth – is your one-way ticket through all this start-up, millenial, social media, smartphone crap to the primeval heart of humankind. It’s your personal, physical link to apes and amoeba and the single-celled organisms that have colonised the planet since the dawn of time. And yep, you’ll want to buckle up for this excellent adventure. Sh1t is about to get real.