Gorgeous, ethereal maternity photo shoots depicting pregnancy as the most beautiful experience one can ever live through are everywhere. A mother-to-be stands atop a grassy knoll, adorned in a translucent ivory dress, staring wistfully into the sunset. The dusk bestows the most breathtaking amber glow upon a perfectly round pregnant belly, which the mother-to-be cradles in her arms. The scene is serene, and pregnancy looks perfect. While our society seems pretty obsessed with pregnant women, there are plenty of serious reasons why we need to stop romanticizing pregnancy. Pregnancy isn't glorious nor fabulous for many women. In fact, pregnancy can often be terrifying and unpredictable.
I would probably have another child if I wasn't horrified of being pregnant. When I say I hated being pregnant, I am being kind. I despised being pregnant. There was maybe a month that I felt normal and the rest of the time I was miserable. Don't get me wrong, there were some perks to pregnancy: people were extra nice to me, I got preferential seating at restaurants, skin tight clothes showed off my bump instead of my gut, and I (sometimes) loved feeling the baby kick. Everything else, though, sucked. Colossally sucked.
Both of my pregnancies began with a round of nausea during which I was too sick to even get off the couch. The most I was able to accomplish was walking from the bed to the couch and back. I practically crawled to the bathroom whenever I needed to go, because standing upright was nauseating. Every smell and every taste made me want to vomit, but I didn't. Not even once. I was just constantly, painstakingly nauseated. I begged to throw up and it never happened. When the roller coaster of nausea finally subsided after the longest 10 weeks of my life, the hot flashes arrived. Those were then complemented by heartburn that felt as if my esophagus was trying to kill itself. Dear reader, all of this was just the beginning.
Because Of Morning Sickness
According to The American Pregnancy Association, 70 to 80 percent of women experience some form of morning sickness. I know a few women who may have had very mild morning sickness, or none at all, but most pregnant women do suffer from morning (read: all day) sickness and it can be truly debilitating.
There is nothing quite as romantic as the constant feeling of nausea, right? The ball that, for weeks, positions itself atop your throat, burning and whirling your insides, isn't at all pleasant. I spent my days waiting for nighttime so I could sleep and not feel anything. I survived those days by believing there was an end to this misery and by sleeping as much as I could. I had to take Zofran when I went to work and I was still awfully sick, sitting at my desk wishing for each day to end.
Because Of High-Risk Pregnancies
Factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, mother's age, and gestational diabetes can all cause a high-risk pregnancy. According to the University California San Francisco, 6 to 8 percent of pregnancies are considered high risk. While that may seem like a small number, take if from someone who went through two high-risk pregnancies when I tell you: they are no fun. In fact, high-risk pregnancies are beyond stressful.
I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) at around four months pregnant. When I got to the emergency room, my heart rate was at 195 per minute. My entire body pulsed with frightening intensity. "This can't be good for the baby," is all I kept thinking. I was immediately put on a beta-blocker that was Category C, which meant there was a potential risk to the fetus. So that was the rest of my pregnancy, constant monitoring to make sure that my heart condition and the medicine weren't harming the fetus. It wasn't glorious and it wasn't fun. It was dreadful.
Because Of All The Symptoms
Vomiting, heartburn, sore breasts, ligament pain, food aversions, hot flashes, mood swings, bloating, frequent urination, fatigue, weight gain, swelling, nightmares, charley horses, cravings, hip pain, joint pain, back pain, and more. Sounds so pleasant, doesn't it? I had it all. So no, I did not enjoy my pregnancy. No wonder women are shocked to find out these symptoms exist when all they see are stock photos of perfect women smiling down at their beautiful bellies.
Because Some Women Have Anxiety
My high risk pregnancy didn't help my anxiety. The obstetrician telling me there was a very tiny (1 percent) possibility that my daughter may be born with Down Syndrome, didn't help my anxiety. The random aches and pains that could have been normal or that could have been worrisome, did not help my anxiety. The 100 billion recommendations for what not to do while you're pregnant, did not help my anxiety. I was on the verge of bursting.
In their book about anxiety during pregnancy, Pamela S. Wiegartz, Ph.D, and Kevin L. Gyoerkoe, PsyD found that 5 to 16 percent of women struggle with anxiety during pregnancy. Furthermore, research suggests that moms who suffer from anxiety during pregnancy are at an increased risk for postpartum depression and that babies of mothers with anxiety may be at risk for premature birth. Still, no one is talking about it.
Because Romanticizing Pregnancy Can Be Harmful
Romanticizing pregnancy isn't just unrealistic, it can also be harmful. Women already deal with a plethora of unrealistic expectations in their everyday lives and more so when they become mothers. Women are supposed to "carry beautifully" and "have that pregnancy glow" and "be all belly." When you don't fit this very unrealistic pregnancy mold, you are made to believe you aren't a worthy pregnant woman.
I did not "carry beautifully," my pregnancy glow was likely sweat, and I was not "all belly." I was, however, all belly and all hips, and all ass, and all arms, and all thighs. I carried everywhere, so these beautiful images of perfect pregnant women aren't doing anyone any good and are subconsciously harming our psyche.
Because Of The Weight Gain
I gained between 28-30 lbs during both of my pregnancies, and while that isn't as much as some other women gain, for my 5'1 petite frame that was a lot. I was constantly winded. Every part of me hurt and the added weight put pressure on my knees, feet, and my lower back. I was perpetually uncomfortable, waddling through the last two trimesters, and all I wanted was to eat more cupcakes and drown my sorrows.
Because Of The Exhaustion
With my second pregnancy I knew I was pregnant before the test was positive. I knew because I felt it deep, deep inside. The fatigue pinned me down and held me hostage for at least three months. The feeling of crippling exhaustion was overpowering, but I still had to go to work and take care of a 4 year old. Try teaching a classroom full of teenagers when all you want to do is sit down at your desk and take a nap and then possibly throw up.
Because Miscarriages Happen Often
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that up to 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. That is a high percentage. Women miscarry often enough and romanticizing pregnancy isn't really a healthy image for anyone to see, especially not for those who suffered from pregnancy loss.
Because Some Women Suffer From Infertility
Can we please stop talking about how incredible and amazing and easy pregnancy is? Because, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about 12 percent of women, aged 15 to 44 years, have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. So for the sake of the women who are unable to conceive, or women who have difficulties conceiving, can we please stop describing pregnancy as this magical and miraculous thing? Please? Have some freaking compassion, people.
Because Sometimes Pregnancy Just Sucks
"Aww, you're so cute with that adorable little belly," people told me. Honestly, I wanted to punch these people in their faces because I felt like absolute crap 90 percent of the time.
Have you seen the 50+ stretch marks I've acquired? Have you felt the awful lower back pain I'm suffering from? Have you had to give up your favorite foods, like sushi and soft cheeses? Have you tried to shave your legs with a huge bulge in the way? No? OK then. I have and it all sucks.
So next time you see beautiful maternity photos on your Facebook feed, or come across yet another Instagram post of a celebrity showing off her perfectly rounded belly, consider that right before or right after the photo shoot (or, hell, even during) the mom-to-be had a hot flash, changed in and out of her slippers due to her swollen feet, cried, and possibly fought with her partner and/or photographer. So there. Pregnancy isn't fabulous for all. Stop making it seem like it is.