My non-mom friends tell me they want to be prepared before they get pregnant. As a result, they're informed about hemorrhoids and Kegels, and have researched breastfeeding and co-sleeping. Still, they're curious as to how it really feels to be pregnant, and for good reason: it's hard to describe something that you can only understand if you've experienced it (at least that's what I would yell at my husband). Thankfully, there are more than a few things pregnancy actually feels like, so women who are thinking about growing another human being inside their body can be somewhat prepared. I mean, there's nothing like it, but making a few comparisons definitely won't hurt.
My romantic notions about pregnancy were quickly shattered. I started vomiting a few days after I took that positive pregnancy test, and I didn't stop for 20 damn weeks. My nausea was crippling, and I had the strangest pain in my tailbone. While the second trimester offered a short respite, the third trimester brought aches and pains, heartburn, and insomnia. Through it all, however, I loved my growing baby with every fiber of my being. I remember the first time I felt her hiccup in my belly. It was the strangest sensation, but it made me love her even more.
Pregnancy is weird and wonderful, and because it's such a singular experience it's challenging to draw comparisons. For what it's worth, here's what it felt like to me:
Like You Just Got Off The Gravitron
As in, you're probably going to throw up your churro. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 60-70 percent of pregnant women experience vomiting as a symptom of early pregnancy. It's unpleasant as f*ck, but the good news is it's unlikely to affect your baby (unless you develop hyperemesis gravidarium, for which you'll need to be treated by your provider).
Like A Nasty Hangover
You know that nauseated, groggy feeling you get the morning after a night on the town? It's like that, but without the fun the night before. You also can't use hair of the dog to get rid of it. Unfortunately, nausea can be your constant pregnancy companion (morning sickness doesn't relegate itself to mornings only). Most ladies experience relief around the 14-week mark, though, so there's hope, dear reader.
Like You Just Ate A Hot Dog Inside A Bratwurst Wrapped In Bacon
Hello, heartburn my old friend. If you've never had acid indigestion, it's best described as a burning sensation in your chest. During pregnancy, your tolerance for certain foods can change. Something that never gave you reflux before may be anathema to you while pregnant, so take it easy on the curry.
Like You Got A Boob Job
You know you're a lifelong small-chested woman when you text a picture of your brand spanking new pregnancy boobs to your husband, sister, and best friend. I was so excited, you guys. Like, dressing to accent my cleavage was a level to which I never dreamed to aspire. So enjoy those jumblies, unless you have large breasts already, in which case I'm really sorry because back pain is a b*tch.
Like Watching 'Stepmom'
As in, you're going to ugly cry and have all the feels about all the things. Don't watch commercials. Just trust me on this one.
Like Brain Matter Is Slowly Sleeping Out Your Ears
So pregnancy brain is a thing. Hormones and lack of sleep can do wacky things to you. You will lose your keys. You will look for your cell phone while talking on it. You will walk into a room and forget why you're there (hint: probably to look for your lost keys).
Like A Bad Case Of PMS
The great thing about pregnancy is not having your period but unfortunately, many of the pregnancy symptoms you'll probably experience mimic those of PMS anyway. For example, you will probably have a food craving or two. For me, it was ice cream in all its glorious forms (milkshake, sundae, cone, or whatever).
That's not all, my friends. Constipation and diarrhea? Check. Insomnia and irritability? You bet. Mood swings? In full effect, baby.
Like Butterflies In Your Stomach
When you feel your baby move for the first time, you might mistake it for gas. However, before you know it you'll come to recognize those flutters as your baby's first kicks. This is called "the quickening" and usually occurs between weeks 16 and 25. Then it gets fun. If I wanted to feel my daughter move, I could drink a small glass of juice and get my fill of sweet baby water sports.
Like There's An Alien Inside You
An alien who does Jazzercise, to be exact. Your own little Kuato, if you will. It's so cool (but somewhat bizarre) to feel your baby move around as they get bigger and have less room. It's even weirder when you can see it happening. You might even be able to identify body parts, you guys. I saw feet and a butt, and I definitely felt elbows and knees. This stage is probably the most glaring reminder that your body no longer belongs to you alone.
Like A Swift Kick To The Groin
Ah, the jab to the cervix. My favorite, as in it's the goddamn worst. It's basically a lightning bolt straight to your vagina, and not in a good way.
Like You're An Uncoordinated Manatee
Yes, you may very well lumber around like an elephant, waddle like a penguin, and feel like Shamu. Clumsiness is common when your pregnant, because your center of gravity shifts thanks to that big belly of yours. Being nine months pregnant gives you some serious sympathy for mammals with long gestation periods (solidarity, April the Giraffe).
Like Sudden Onset Narcolepsy
I have always been a champion sleeper. In fact, my husband wants to donate my body to science so I can be studied. So it was literally a rude awakening when I developed insomnia when I was pregnant. This meant that I would fall asleep randomly during the day, like in the staff room during my planning period or when I tried watching anything on TV, but sleeping at night was impossible.
Like Falling In Love For The First Time
You know that feeling you get between the first and second date with someone you've really taken a shine to? The anticipation? The excitement? The nervousness? Being pregnant is kind of like that, except you fall in love with your baby before you even meet.
I can draw comparisons to pregnancy all day, but the truth is, there's nothing quite like it.