I have always wanted to meet you. I thought, once me and you finally got together we would have this instant connection where we would bask in the glow of making a human while being fed donuts by the pregnancy gods. I thought, sure, it will be tough some days, but not as tough as some women would have me think. Those other women just didn’t understand you, but I would. Since my road to meeting you was wrought with challenges and heartbreak, I was even more confident that once we were together, it would be smooth sailing. I was not going to complain or worry, because you have been my dream for many years. And here we find ourselves together, scraping our way through the last week of the second trimester, and all I can think is: I’M AN IDIOT.
Seems harsh, but pregnancy is the most humbling experience I have ever encountered (second to when your brother throws you a no look pass on the first play of a very public basketball game, smacking you in the face in front of the entire cruise ship, but I digress). It is truly a time where you can have any range of expectation, good or bad, and have reality just stomp on your cute, little, Pinterest sodden heart.
Here are 5 times that my pregnancy expectations were quashed by the oh so leaden footsteps of reality.
THE SAFETY ZONE
Expectation: Make it past 14 weeks and we are safe!
Reality: THE SAFETY ZONE DOESN’T EXIST (insert Lindsey Lohan in Mathletes sweater here)
We had a tumultuous first trimester with awful all-day sickness, random bleeding, and many just the everyday scares that come with IVF pregnancies (or any pregnancy really). At one low point we even found ourselves crying in the bathroom on the phone with our on call IVF doctor (who was nice enough to chat while at his niece’s wedding) assuring him it was all over. All we could think of during that time was, “we just have to get through the first trimester.” Looking back, we could not have been more wrong. The second trimester started and I felt no different. I was still sick, and still worried that something could go wrong, but I slowly gained the confidence to start listening to my body. I resumed workouts (approved by my doctor of course) and allowed myself to get excited about us actually having a baby. Every single test and ultrasound showed us our perfect nugget, with no complications, just kicking away.
Then at 23 weeks, my cervix was like, “it’s been real guys, but I really have to get going.” I found myself under constant monitoring from my doctors (and family), brief hospital visits, and basically everyone just scaring the shit out of me. I am now writing this two days after a 48 hour hospital stay, where I’ve decided that I need to get back in touch with my body. They put me on strict bed rest in the hospital (that’s right, bed pan city) and gave me steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs should he or she make an early appearance.
I left the hospital in the worst physical and mental shape I had been in my entire pregnancy. My husband and I sat down that night as he tried to get my bed ridden back to loosen up, and discussed why I was feeling this way, and how we could alleviate the stress. We decided that for a generally active person like myself, the strict bedrest could potentially be more stressful for me mentally and physically. Not because I wanted to work out, or not be stuck at home, but because my body and mind were responding very poorly to the restrictions, which in turn could be harmful to the baby. We called our nutritionist, came up with a food plan that would keep my body healthy on limited activity, and decided to seek second opinions from doctors (and there is such a wide range of expert opinions regarding bed rest for preterm labor). Our overall attitude today is, this baby is coming when it’s coming, and we will do our best to keep the oven closed, but we cannot let people scare us into doing something we don’t feel is right.
THE I TOLD YOU SO’ERS
Expectation: You’re pregnant? Here comes a ton of unsolicited advice!
Reality: You’re pregnant? Here’s what you’re doing wrong.
For the most part, I really do believe people are really well-intentioned when giving you pregnancy advice. In addition to this, I really enjoy hearing about people’s different experiences with pregnancy, because it really does show how broad the spectrum is. From the coworker who literally has no pregnancy symptoms, to the friend whose acid reflux has become the stuff of nightmares, it is all honestly very interesting to me.
Where does it go wrong you ask? Well for me, it goes wrong when you have a pregnancy complication and people begin pointing the finger at you, the first time mom. This can happen in subtle and not so subtle ways, but no matter how these accusation-like comments come at you, THEY SUCK. No one ever needs to say to a pregnant person, “oh that’s happening because you work out,” or, “if you would just take it easy,” or, “it’s because your body is really sensitive.” These are not enlightened epiphanies that you are kindly handing out, and furthermore, they can be hurtful ways of telling someone that they don’t have their baby’s best interest at heart. What I have thought in my head every time someone says these things to me is, even if you truly and strongly believe that what you’re saying is true, is it more important for you to get your “I told ya so’s” out than to be mindful of the person’s feelings?
THE COMPLAINING = UNGRATEFUL COMPLEX
Expectation: Woohoo! I get to join the ranks of women complaining about hemorrhoids and uncontrollable gas!
Reality: You may be considered ungrateful if you complain about such magical time in life
I’m sure most pregnant women have heard some variation of the phrase, “you should be thankful, this really is a miracle.” These comments were especially frequent because of our IVF background. After all, we did endure a bit more than the “the condom broke” set to get to this point. To this I would like to respond, “UHHH DUH!” I am grateful every day that my husband and I (and the good doctors at Reproductive Partners Medical Group) have taken this little frozen snowflake and created a kicking, and soon to be pooping little dumpling. This, however, does not take away my right to call every driver on the road the C word, and to curse the pregnancy gods for what has to be the longest run of constipation anyone has had to endure.
THE LOVE OF A GOOD PIT CREW
Expectation: We won’t need help during the pregnancy.
Reality: Who can bring me Taco Bell at the hospital?
We are so lucky to have the most amazing support system around us. That means parents and siblings that show up to the hospital, bringing food (or looking for food, Jason), and entertainment (see Josh’s dance twirl below). We are lucky to have a mom that will show up to your house every day to wash dishes, cook, and clean your stove. Being of an independent and stubborn nature, it can be easy to forget that asking for help is okay, and accepting support is even better. Humbling, but oh so beautiful.
THE INABILITY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND
Expectation: Prepare to be annoyedby everything your husband does or does not do. He cannot win. This has been scientifically proven.
Reality: My husband is an alien.
I have listened to pregnant women complain about their significant other for years. The list of domestic felonies includes: not helping around the house, not being empathetic enough, golfing too much, and smelling weird. I was excited to finally be able to relate and engage in these husband roasting events, however, as it turns out, my husband is a weirdo. He cleans the house, blames my farts on what must be a rogue duck outside our window, grocery shops when I can’t, and is able to empathize with every emotion I may be going through. His favorite line is, “You’re doing all the heavy lifting, so I will do whatever you need.” He has robbed me of my womanly right to complain about her husband, and I don’t know what baby and me would do without him.