Thanksgiving is a cozy little food coma haven, meant to sustain you during months of darkness. But when you're pregnant, especially for the first time, every single aspect of your life, including this most festive and gluttonous of days, change. Hormones are flooding your brain and ever-expanding body, making for a holiday experience you haven't had before. There are thoughts every pregnant woman has during Thanksgiving, not to mention feels. Literally all of the feels. When you mix pregnancy hormones with that much food and extended family dynamics, it gets real really fast.
Don't get me wrong, a pregnant Thanksgiving can be completely amazing. You know when Willy Wonka let all the kids in the chocolate factory and started singing "Pure Imagination?" It's like that, only with turkey and a truckload of carbs. It can also be, ummm, let's say "challenging," because it's less intimidating than saying, "actual hell on Earth that will make you pray your entire family is captured by a league of super villains, strapped to a rocket, and sent to the moon."
If this is your first pregnant Thanksgiving, a few words of advice: get ready to be at least a center of attention, for better or for worse (no one can resist talking to a pregnant chick about being pregnant); be prepared to hear the phrase, "Eating for two;" if your family is particularly difficult, find a Thanksgiving buddy to ally with, because your ability to deal with other people's crap is going to be way, way lower than in previous years. In other words, having backup is clutch. And, of course, be prepared to think the following:
"Sorry I'm Late. It Takes A Lot Longer To Get Here When You're Pulling Over To Barf Or Pee Every 10 Minutes."
Last year, according to AAA, 46.9 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday. That in and of itself can be really annoying, but when you're pregnant and more prone to car sickness and frequent bathroom breaks (and random leg cramps and overall discomfort) it's basically one of the nine circles of Hell. Flying on top of driving? Bless your poor pregnant heart. At least you get to board first, right?
"Finding A Cute Maternity Outfit For The Holidays Is Really Difficult So Someone Better Freakin' Notice"
Seriously, who are all these whimsically precious, carefree looking dames on social media? What with their perfect baby bumps and fashionable dresses and perfect, beach-wavy hair? And OMG, is their outfit coordinated with their partner's? How have they managed this? Witchcraft? It must be witchcraft.
I looked in every maternity store imaginable to find anything, and all I managed was this cheaply-made polka dot nightmare that doesn't quite fit across my boobs. Thank God for pashminas.
"Please Don't Pressure Me Into Terrible Baby Names To Honor A Dead Family Member"
Oh, really grandma? Your favorite aunt's name was Ermengarde? That's unusual since we're not German. Oh, her parents were Nazi sympathizers? Oh. OK, no, that's, um, wow. Yeah, no. We're not naming the baby Ermengarde. Sorry. (Not sorry at all.)
"Can We Talk About Something Other Than This Baby And My Pregnancy?"
Please, dear God. I have a lot going on in my life. There's work! There's the holidays coming up! There's that vacation I'm going on! There's that gallery I'm going to be featured in a few months! There's that disease I cured! Or, hey! We don't even have to talk about me. We can talk about Game of Thrones! We can talk about books we've read recently! Literally anything other than the same five questions I've been answering for the past several months. So, to fast-track the process:
Yes, I'm excited.
No, we haven't picked a name yet.
I feel absolutely terrible most of the time, but thanks for asking.
Yes, I've tried ginger.
Actually, I'd rather not tell you the intimate details of my birth plan, but I'm sure you'll give me your opinion anyway.
I know it's all new to you, and I'm not holding this against you or anything — you're not doing anything wrong. However, I just want to have a normal conversation with my loved ones.
"I Want To Eat All The Things, But Eating Even One Of The Things Will Probably Make Me Sick"
There's should be some sort of game theory called "The Pregnant Person's Dilemma" that addresses this issue. While it's presence is most strongly felt on holidays, it's felt literally all the time by a starving, queasy pregnant woman.
*Whistles While Piling A Small Mountain Of Food Onto Plate*
Let's be honest, what pregnant woman isn't going to indulge in this most glorious of food holidays? (And, of course, there are those lucky ladies who don't experience nausea or weird food aversions and so gorging themselves on nine helpings of stuffing and cranberry sauce isn't going to be an issue at all.)
"If I'm Not Sent Home With A Legit Cooler Full Of Leftovers, I Am Going To Cry"
The beauty of Thanksgiving is that it's not one day of delicious food. It really should be called Thanksanukkah, because the food that was meant for one day winds up lasting eight. No one needs a sandwich made of Thanksgiving leftovers more than a pregnant woman.
"Do I Really Have To Help Clean? I'm So Tired And My Feet Are Swollen."
When I was pregnant, ambition to do anything remotely physical (yes, even if it was just standing by the sink drying plates), was below zero. Well below zero. Part of that was due to the constant exhaustion. The other part was the fact that my feet and ankles were so swollen that they didn't fit in shoes anymore. (I literally had to go out on a lunch break at work one day and buy new shoes because even my flip-flops weren't cutting it.)
But exercise some consideration here, too (because you're an adult, and you ate the same as everyone else who is helping clean up). Don't mistake not wanting to do something with not being up to doing something.
"My Family Is So Much Easier To Deal With When There's Booze"
(And sure, lots of pregnant women will allow themselves a glass of wine on a special occasion, but a huge annual dinner with your entire family is going to require a lot more than is safe for any pregnant woman to drink).
"Holy Sh*t, Next Year I'm Going To Have A Baby With Me"
Suddenly, probably while you're watching your cousin and her young family gather around the table or something, you realize that your life is going to look very, very different this time next year, especially if this is your first child.
This might be the first time it's hit you, or maybe one of the first moments where it really begins to sink in. You know the end of The Graduate, where Elaine and Benjamin are sitting in the backseat of the bus, lost in their own thoughts, gazing deadpan into an unknown future? That's the face you're making upon realizing this. At least on the inside.
"No Really OMG Next Year I'm Going To Have A Baby With Me!"
After The Graduate feeling wears off and you fully realize the gravity of what lies ahead, you may have a breakdown. You may run into your aunt's bedroom and cry to your partner, sister, mother, or grandpa. Because deciding to become a parent can be really, really scary. It makes sense to find new ways to be scared on a holiday, which is simultaneously a disruption to your every day routine but full of familiarity and traditions. Because with a baby not even holidays are going to be the same. Holidays are always the same and now they're not going to be! The world is upside-down, you guys.
"I Can't Wait Until Next Year, When I Have A Baby With Me"
After the fears winds down a bit, the prospect does, indeed, become exciting again. Because, you know, babies. Babies and cute little Thanksgiving outfits.
Trust me when I say that holidays are way cooler with kids. They just, well, are. It's like all the coolness of a regular holiday plus seeing someone you adore enjoy it for the first time, plus vividly remembering the good things about holidays from your own childhood when you were their age. For real, babies are little tiny human time machines.
"Will I Have To Sit At The Kids' Table Next Year?"
There's a pretty good chance, since you'll have to mind your child, who will not be old enough to fend for themselves within a year. Try not take it too hard and just think of it as a way to escape your tipsy uncle's political rants.