I’m a happy mother of two. I always wanted at least two children. I figure children are like dogs: you need more than one so they can keep each other company. So even though I hated being pregnant the first time around, I forced myself to do it again for the sake of my poor, lonely eldest.
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But that’s it. No more. In my head I still fondly imagine a bigger family, chaotic and loving, just like my own childhood. But if making this daydream a reality means that I have to go through nine more months of misery and suffering, then it’s simply not happening.
Believe me, I am overjoyed with my children. I love being a mother. People go through unpleasant situations all the time in the hope of long-term happiness and fulfilment. That’s great – but it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
So to throw a dash of reality into the happy, la-di-da world of joyful, glowing pregnancy fantasyland, here are five reasons why being pregnant stinks.
1) Sensory overload
I never had much of a sense of smell. It meant I didn’t have to worry too much about my fellow man’s BO, or a long-forgotten container of leftovers in the fridge. But from the first month of my first pregnancy, all that changed. Suddenly I was privy to every unpleasant, malodorous emanation that wafted its way past my nostrils.
I honestly never knew the world smelled this bad.
2) Pregnancy, thy name is nausea
From six weeks in until the hour I gave birth. Do not believe them when they call it morning sickness. Do not believe them when they say it fades around week twelve. These people are LYING. Or blessed by spirits. Either way, it’s just not that easy for some of us tortured souls.
Unceasing nausea, for those who have not experienced it, wears you down. All you want to do is sit and wallow in silent misery. I tried everything. Eating frequently and not at all. Ginger. Vitamin B. Prescription drugs. Doing the Hoky Poky. Nothing helped. Throwing up didn’t help. The instant I got up from the toilet floor, bang! There it would be. Miss me?
People didn’t understand. They would pretend to throw up and laugh hysterically at my expression. Truly, I lost friends because of this.
Not because they were trying to be cruel but because, even after it was all over, I couldn’t find a way to forgive them for so thoughtlessly belittling my pain.
I remember exactly the moment my nausea stopped. It was the moment the midwife told me to start pushing. Frankly, I (almost) welcomed the pain.
3) Tiredness, lethargy, exhaustion
The number of illicit naps I took at work far exceeded the number of checks on my to-do list each week. I tried to keep up my yoga and martial art training, at least during the first pregnancy. But I couldn’t sleep a lot of the time, feeling uncomfortable, achy, huge. People oh so helpfully said that this was training for when I had a screaming baby to deal with every night. They were lucky my arms felt too tired to slug them.
4) Negative emotions
People will blame the hormones. But that’s only part of the story. A pregnant woman goes through a momentous emotional rollercoaster. Think about the feelings that run through your head when you contemplate changing jobs, moving house, getting married or separated, or any other major life change. Is it any wonder that pregnant women freak out a bit? At some point they realise that their happy, selfish lives are over and they will have to put another human being first forever. It’s enough to mess with anyone’s head.
Not to mention the physical discomfort, and the body image issues. Some women struggle with the knowledge that they are only going to get fatter. Not to mention stretch marks. It’s a big problem in this image-centric day and age.
All of this adds up to one great big mental ouch. I was angry for most of my first pregnancy. There were moments of incredible excitement and joy. But mostly I was angry: at my mother for not conveying just how awful pregnancy is. At my housemates for not reading my mind and anticipating my every need. At myself for feeling so weak and powerless. At other people for their lack of consideration and at other pregnant women for their smug, look at me, I’m making new life attitude (I may have been imagining this).
Don’t forget depression. In my second pregnancy, thanks to some serious work and finance related stress, I ended up with mild perinatal depression. Thanks very much, pregnancy hormones.
OK, I must admit that thanks to nine long months of constant misery, labour and birth did not scare me. How bad could it be? But both times I was unable to ease the pain with drugs as I’d planned, and some serious tearing went on down there. I told myself that it was just like going to the dentist. A bit of unpleasantness and it would all be over. And that was true. Except that I had to have the tooth (read baby) extracted with no pain killers.
Some people will tell you that it doesn’t really hurt. They’re LYING.
For some reason, we tend to forget the pain soon after the baby is out. Hormones again; we’re too busy being all lovey-dovey and bondy with our babies, and our heads just let the pain go. I told my sister during my first labour that if I ever decided to do this again, she must prevent me at all costs. A fact which she reminded me of many times as I stubbornly went about getting pregnant for the second time. How cruel nature can be.
Potential parents, I wish you luck and that you quickly forget all the pain in the joy of your new family member!
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