I have described pregnancy, more than once, as a welcome inconvenience. Frankly, "inconvenience" is pretty polite. Sure, babies are great, but pregnancy can be awful. I don't know how else you would describe throwing up in front of your boss' boss after being nauseous for 15 weeks, only to keep being nauseous for another 10 and then being diagnosed with a temporary form of diabetes as soon as you're finally able to eat something without gagging (not that I'm bitter). It's also confusing. There are things about pregnancy that still don't make sense to me, five years later.
Well, technically five and/or two years because, even after my first pregnancy, with its litany of annoyances and pains that, at times, felt like a punishment for having sex, I went and did it again. I even planned it this time. It was around week 10 of pregnancy Number Two when my brain had a heart-to-heart with my reproductive system and said, "Now. Girl. Listen. I know this is, like, what you do, but you're done. I'm cutting you off. This is it. I don't actually know what's going on with a lot of this crap, but it is really, really awful for the rest of us. Sciatic nerve, you want to jump in here?"
When I say I still don't get some of this stuff, it's not that I don't get it. I'm perfectly able (and likely) to pick up a book to explain "What's the deal with that?" (Though, truly, some pregnancy quirks do rank among the great mysteries of life.) I mean more that I don't get it because, five years later, I still want to throw my head back, curse the heavens, and wonder aloud about the the true meaning of my suffering, for example:
Why Did I Crave Foods That Made Me Barf?
This was especially true during my first pregnancy, when my cravings changed weekly and were more intense than they were during my second pregnancy. Still, each new item of which I would partake would lead me, minutes later, running to the bathroom to dry heave for about 10 minutes before finally managing to throw up.
The good news is that throwing up felt great, for approximately three seconds after it was done before I eventually felt nauseous again. Yet my cravings were so strong that I couldn't not run to the bodega for that bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and orange juice in the first place. The siren song was too loud. Too seductive. So I guess it was kind of, like, less eating and more "briefly renting" food. This lasted about 15 weeks. Good times, man. Good times.
Why Did My Son Constantly Headbutt My Cervix?
My son was my first pregnancy, so I just assumed this was normal fetus behavior. Then I got pregnant with my daughter and she, thankfully, never did such things. So this is sort of a retrospective puzzlement, now that I know it's not an across the board. So I would like to pose this question directly to my now 5 year old:
Seriously, bro? WTF? Like, no, W.T.F? That was absurd, really annoying behavior and you did it all the damn time? What were you thinking? Also, how were you simultaneously constantly head butting my cervix but straight-up crushing my lungs? You weren't that tall. Maybe this is a sign that you will be an overachiever?
WTF Was That Vibrating?
One evening, about two days before I went into labor, I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket against my belly... only my phone wasn't in my pocket. You know that urban legend with the babysitter getting creepy phone calls and then the operator is like "THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE?!" This was like that, because the vibration was actually coming from my belly and that realization was confounding and slightly horrifying. It's like "How does my baby have a cell phone?"
People have since suggested that it was the baby kicking, or gas, or a hiccup or something, but no. It was the exact same sensation as a phone set to vibrate, and even happened at intervals. My partner confirmed it. (He too thought I was insane until I let him feel it and he was completely taken aback.) When I asked my OB-GYN (because, yes, I called immediately it was that weird) she had no idea what it could have been. I asked my midwife during my subsequent pregnancy as a point of curiosity and she was also stumped and had never heard of it.
So, if there are any OB-GYNs reading this and you have insight, my Twitter handle is at the bottom of this article: tell me because not knowing is still maddening, five years later.
No, But Seriously. What Is Lightning Crotch?!
It's definitely a thing. (In the UK it apparently has the absolutely adorable and hilarious sobriquet "fanny daggers.") But no one really, definitively knows what causes it, at least not from person to person. Theories range from cervical dilation to nerve pain to magnesium deficiency.
(Though, as someone who is well acquainted with nerve pain, my money is on that because it's an identical sensation... only, ya know, in the vag.)
Why Did I Smell Like Licorice?
Generally speaking, when you don't know why something happens during pregnancy, the answer is probably "hormonal changes." Seriously, hormones are über powerful and can control pretty much everything. The color of your nipples, your mood, and yes, your smell... but how? And why licorice? That's a weird thing to smell like.
Normally, if anything, my body odor is more of a rotten grapefruit funk (#MoreInfoThanYouNeeded). But pop a baby in me and all of a sudden I smell like I've been getting cozy with Candy Land villain Lord Licorice? It was off-putting and weird... and also about 97 percent of people I know hate licorice, so it was sort of embarrassing...
Why Did My Sleep Improve When I Had A Newborn?
You'd think that having a newborn who needs to eat every two hours or so is going to be the pinnacle of crappy sleep, right? Not so. I woke up and slept way worse during my pregnancy than after either my children were born. I mean, waking up five times a night to pee? That's madness, people.
That's without even getting into how uncomfortable you are in general and how much effort it takes to find a good position, because all the really good ones, like on your tummy, are not possible.
Why Did My Bellybutton Point Down?
What is this? Like, that's not where my belly button is under normal circumstances. However, during my second pregnancy (this picture was taken days before I delivered my daughter) it was flat and looking down at my toes. It was the weirdest effing thing I've ever seen, like my bellybutton was doing yoga or something. Downward navel? Anyway. I was not a little bit worried that I was going to be stuck with a downcast bellybutton for the rest of my life. (Fortunately it went back to my middle.)
How Do I Have Any Hair Left?
Technically this was a "post-pregnancy" issue, but it's related to the whole shebang, so I'll talk about it.
I've always been blessed with a head full of very thick hair. Pregnancy didn't do all that much to change that one way or the other... but after I was pregnant I shed, like, a wig's worth of hair every single day for about three months. It got to the point where my husband was like, "Are you OK? Like, you're not balding or anything, but you shed more than the cat these days. Is that normal?"
It is normal, but it's also annoying. (Who wants a couch covered in long, black hair... even nice long, black hair?) Still, it's somewhat miraculous that, even after I lost so much hair, I still had a full head of it when all was said and done.
Why Did Sex Feel So Different?
Not... bad. Not...better. Just... really, inexplicably and indescribably different.
Of course, per the previously discussed rule, I'm sure you can probably blame hormones.
Because right?! Like, down to the fact that this baby was even made when an egg (that I was born with) met up with some weird tadpole-looking cells that my husband launched into me and then grew into a fully-functioning human in under a year. Pregnancy is weird AF, you guys. And despite the fact that I "get it," I feel like there is nothing about it that I will ever be able to wrap my mind around...