In the span of my entire life, I can't think of a time I was more uncomfortable than during my two pregnancies. This is counting all of middle school and that time I saw a dude masturbating on a train, you guys. Ain't no discomfort like the discomfort of pregnancy. In fact, what a pregnant woman really means when she says she's "uncomfortable" describes a general state of being resulting from innumerable, specific factors the likes of which no non-pregnant woman has ever seen.
Those factors are all pretty gross and/or embarrassing, by the way. Of course there's nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to natural body processes, but even my hippie a** recognizes that there are some things that just aren't discussed (or perpetuated) in polite society. Body functions in the wrong place at the wrong time can be über embarrassing. So when someone asks, "How are you feeling?" and you don't want to get into detail about the precise interaction between your baby's head and your bladder, you just say, "I'm feeling kind of uncomfortable."
So what exactly could your pregnant friends really mean when they tell you they're uncomfortable? Well, I don't know what it specifically means to them, but based on my experience it could mean any or all of the following:
"I Have A Hemorrhoid The Size Of A Tennis Ball"
Hemorrhoids are common in pregnancy (blame all the pelvic pressure, hormones, and constipation). This means sitting is uncomfortable at best and torturous at worst. If you ever hear a pregnant woman say, "It's OK, I'd rather stand," she's not being noble or a martyr. She's just trying to ensure that her hemorrhoids don't pop. Best part? Your new little butt babies can wind up being permanent fixtures. #miracleoflife #doubleblessed
"This Baby Is Crushing My Lungs"
My firstborn spent basically my entire pregnancy huddled up as high as he could possible go in my uterus. I've interpreted this to mean that he would be an ambitious person who always wanted to be on top, and that he is the most stubborn person on the planet and didn't want to come out, so he kept himself as far from my cervix as he could. Whether or not that's true, what's definitely true is the fact that he put pressure on my diaphragm and lungs and I couldn't get a deep breath in for months. Super uncomfortable and annoying.
"I Know I Move Like An Especially Graceless Penguin & It's Upsetting"
Everybody loves penguins. (If you don't you're a monster and, seriously, I just have to ask, what is wrong with you?) That said, no one wants to move like one. It's cute on a short, chubby little bird. On human people with hips that weren't meant to carry weight the same way a penguin does? Yeah, not so much.
"I Do Not Know Where My Calf Ends & My Ankle Begins"
Honestly? My entire leg — thigh, knee, calf, ankle — was all pretty much a column of uniform width. And at the bottom of that column, a very large, round loaf of bread that had, at one point in time, been my foot. On a good day everything was visibly swollen. On a bad day I had to go to a store on my lunch break to buy shoes that would actually fit my feet.
"I'm Sweating Like I Ran A Marathon Just Sitting Here"
"I Haven't Pooped In A Week"
Like hemorrhoids, constipation is very common during pregnancy (and, as mentioned, a contributing factor to hemorrhoids: your body is just one enormous betrayal factory, basically). Being constipated under normal circumstances is uncomfortable, but when your body is also lugging around literally another body inside of it, in addition to all that backlogged poop, things get super uncomfortable.
"I Can't See My Vulva"
It's just upsetting. We're good friends, my vulva and me. I'm used to seeing her every day. Then, one day, she ghosts me for months. It's unsettling. And, not to get overly personal here, but it's even more unsettling when you're "getting intimate" with your partner, and then he pops down to "say hello" and you can't see neither your vulva nor your partner.
"I Am Going To Barf On You"
Nausea. Constant, sometimes painful, always deeply irritating nausea. No joke: nausea is a big reason I'm not having another child. I experienced 24 weeks of nausea with my second baby, and then my body had the bloody audacity to turn out to have gestational diabetes. So when I could finally eat something without gagging, I was told, "Yeah, you can have lean proteins and veggies. But don't worry, you can treat yourself to some sugar-free dark chocolate sometimes."
Oh boy! Really?! How did one girl get so damn lucky?
"I'm Basically A Werewolf"
So. Much. Hair. In addition to growing all sorts of new hair, your body really doesn't shed too much when you're pregnant. The result, for a lot of people, is a head full of glorious, thick, shiny locks. The result for me was basically me wanting to hire a carnival barker to advertise me as the Incredible Hirsute Lady and charge people two bits to gawk.
"I'm Also A Vampire"
I was awake all night and my bloody gums often made it look like I was feasting on human blood. (Which, incidentally, would have been a-OK with my gestational diabetes diet.) Yes, bloody gums is a thing, too. Not for everyone, of course, but some people get to look like Lestat on the regular.
"My Nose Is Now Considered The Country's Second Largest Waterfall"
Because your pregnant body is all, "Make all the mucus!" a lot of it winds up coming out of your nose (if it can make it past your swollen sinuses, that is.) It's call rhinitis of pregnancy, and it's just as sexy as it sounds. So at this point you're wheezing, waddling, hairy, bleeding, barf-y, constipated, sweating, swollen person who can't sit down or see your vag and your bag is full of crusty tissues because your nose won't stop running.
"I Smell Like Hot Garbage"
Oh, and you smell like a barnyard. Or, like, a combination of a high school locker gym, my beloved New York City's hot-summer-day smell, and mediocre chicken soup.
"I Just Ate A BLT With Pop Tarts In Place Of Bread & I Feel Shame"
I learned long ago not to question pregnancy cravings. Just like everything else about pregnancy, they're weird, you can't always explain it, and they're going to happen whether you want them to or not. You have no real control. Still, one doesn't feel good about eating, say, milk steak with a side of raw jelly beans.
"I Just Peed My Pants A Little"
Not enough to change underwear, mind you, but enough where you are sitting in your embarrassment, thinking about everything that has brought you to this point in your life.
"I'm Physically & Emotionally Overwhelmed"
How can one possibly encapsulated everything that is going on in pregnancy that leaves them feeling ill-at-ease and uncomfortable. There's just so much and sometimes all of it happens all at once. So, rather than delve into the depths of how physically and spiritually drained we are, we leave it at, "I'm uncomfortable."