One of my friends called me today to give me the happy news that she was expecting. Of course, she was over the moon, this being her first time, but she was also, understandably, clueless! Her lack of lucidity on the topic reminded me of how I was when I first came to learn of my own time.
To begin with, first timers are shit scared!
I have a baby inside me? Everything is gonna change now…I’m gonna change now! Am I even qualified? Will I balloon into a water buffalo? OMG, am I gonna have to stop bingeing, partying, drinking? Ummm… are you gonna eat that?
I suspect these are the same questions that every first time mom (FTM) has, with minor variations. And since its the national occupation in India to give unsolicited advice, FTM’s like my poor friend and me, are additionally burdened with as many different accounts of pregnancy as stars in the sky. Most FTM’s ‘knowledge’ on the matter is limited to only what they have seen mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends go through, or what they tell us… and movies on pregnancy or parenting. Of course you can read about it but most experienced folks tell you that what’s written in those books is garbage *rolls eyes*.
The first trimester is especially hard on most moms, first time or tenth time, and I used to wonder all the time, why didn’t the movies show this? Why’d they have to gloss over these agonizing things? So I decided to compile a list of the 12 things that were topmost in my long list of irritating pregnancy discoveries:
1. Heart burn and Acidity: You’ll have heartburn and acidity that radiates all the way from your head to your twinkle toes, and burns in your throat like a chemical burn. This was the first thing I noticed when I got pregnant, and boy, was it bad! I couldn’t sleep, eat, or even sit in peace because the heartburn would just not let me be. No food, no lozenges, no meds helped. I was told that if you have bad heartburn, the baby is born with a hairy head. Mine was bald!
2. You either gotta go or not at all – While they do show that pregnant women suddenly lose control of their bladders, what most movies don’t show you is that they lose control in another bodily function down there. Most pregnant women suffer from this pot-related malady and any woman who has been pregnant will tell you just how difficult that time was. Its because your body is literally relaxing because of the hike in hormones like Progestrone and Relaxin. Your bowel system becomes rather sluggish leading to Piles-worthy constipation, or you could have the runs. And then you’re advised not to exert too much pressure when your’e doing the deed. @#%#*@!
3. Vivid Dreams – Yes! You read it right. This is the one time when your dreams will range from sappy sweet to very, very weird. Many pregnant women discover that they dream more frequently and about the oddest things on the planet. Like, I had a dream about dating Superman (I have a HUGE crush on Cavill) and meeting my departed Grandmother (bless her soul) as well as my then unborn baby, in the same dream. Apparently, this is a way for the pregnant body to convey messages or help you relax. I’m still waiting for that date with Cavill.
4. I swear my keys were right there…or maybe not! – Pregnant women are a forgetful and absentminded bunch. There’s nothing in science yet that explains why this happens. So lets just blame it on excitement, nerves and our To-Do lists. When you have doctor’s appointments, pills to take, prenatal yoga classes, and work to tackle along with an insatiable hunger the size of a continent, anyone will forget things.
5. Freedom to Eat is Overrated – Just when you think you have all the reasons to eat things like chocolates and guzzle down endless cups of coffees (you need those happy hormones released), you’ll be told – no caffeine. That’s right, pregnancy is not an excuse to eat everything you like, unlike what the movies show you. Freedom to eat is overrated. So are cravings. I had NONE! I used to wish I could bother my husband with a 2 a.m. ice-cream binge (like they show in the movies), but sadly, that didn’t happen. There is sooooooo much that you cannot eat for fear of giving the fetus an infection or hurting it – caffeine, alcohol, certain fish, uncooked or semi-cooked meat, most deli meats, raw veges, ready-to eat foods, soft cheese, raw or soft cooked eggs (be careful with that cake batter, you can’t lick it anymore) and even unpasteurized honey. Did I hear you say “Huh? What’s left then?” Yeah, that reaction pretty much sums it up.
6. You have a case of Jupiter – Remember your elementary science lessons – gaseous planets like Jupiter? That’s what you feel like. Not only do you feel bloated like a planet, you’re also very, very likely to pass wind at the drop of a hat. This goes hand in hand with the constipation/diarrhea problem, yet NO ONE will tell you on your face, “Girlie, you’re now a walking-talking chemical weapon”. They’ll just make an excuse and run out of the room.
7. Off with your clothes – Pregnancy is an embarrassing situation where there will be tonnes of doctors, midwives and family (sometimes) asking you to disrobe on every check-up. So is breastfeeding, but that’s a different story. Don’t even ask me what happnes after childbirth. My MIL once told me – once you have a baby, you forget about being decent in public. Boy, was she right?
8. Your tongue betrays you – So you baked a fresh batch of cookies and are ready to dig in (more so coz you’re pregnant) but wait, why do they taste yucky? Yes, that happens a lot during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Most women report having a weird metallic taste in their mouth. While I didn’t have that, certain foods would always taste different to me. Like, I would cook something and end up either putting too much salt or too less, and I would be unable to figure out which it is. I baked a swoon-worthy apple pie that everyone relished but me. It has nothing to do with morning sickness but everything to do with weird-things-that-happen-during-pregnancy.
9. Itchy skin – Do not believe movies like Junior where they compliment Shwarznegger’s glowing skin. Pregnancy makes your skin itchy as hell. That’s because, you guessed it, its getting stretched, in ALL places. Yep, you may have glowing skin, but that’s more because of the extra carbs and the chole-bhature you’ve been gorging on. Lard equals glowing skin. Have you ever noticed how heavy people have shiny, glowy, pink cheeks and creaseless skin? Yep, that’s why. Most women feel exactly how this sloth feels during their pregnant months – hairy and itchy!
10. Dude! Where’s my foot? – As if it isn’t enough that your favourite clothes don’t fit you anymore, your shoes may not either, even after childbirth! Of course during pregnancy, you can not wear certain shoes because your feet may bloat to the size of watermelons, but it may be possible for the change in shoe size to be permanent. That’s because your foot arches flatten out because of the extra weight gained during pregnancy which could become a permanent change. Like in my case, but for me it was a blessing because I had tiny feet to begin with (another short girl problem that I’ve written about), and an increase of mere points in my shoe size meant that I could finally shop in the adult section. Yay!
11. Shortness of breath – There were times when in the middle of a conversation I would begin to pant like a dog. This was mostly, again, during the early stages of pregnancy, but it would leave me feeling breathless – and not in a good way. I even had to turn down a chance to lecture an undergrad class because I was told that the endless standing and talking would not suit my ‘current’ situation.
12. Who’s that penguin in your skin? – All that unevenly distributed extra weight gained during pregnancy takes a toll on your spine and gait with the result that you go waddle-waddle-waddle-waddle, because that’s the only way you can walk when you’re heavily pregnant, all womanly grace be damned! None of those high heels (those heels won’t fit you in the first place) or those shimmery dresses (neither will they), or layers of Spanx® will reduce the weight-induced waddle that makes you resemble a penguin.
I hope these pointers helped some of you who are going to be FTM’s or FTP’s. But even if they didn’t, make sure that if you know someone who’s one, pass on the knowledge. Please, they’ll need it.
©Pradita Kapahi, 2016