I'm certain that there are people out there for whom pregnancy is magical. I know a few, lucky women who felt amazing for the duration of the their pregnancies. My mom often told me that she "never felt better" than when she was pregnant. I also know there are others who may not have perfect pregnancies but still think, for the most part, that it's a magical experience. But the idea that "pregnancy is magical" is a joke — a misleading and even cruel joke — and I need you to know some things.
The only universal rule of pregnancies (aside from, like, "if you carry to term you will give birth to a human") is that there are no universal rules of pregnancy. Everyone will experience this phenomenon differently, which can be sort of frustrating because how do we even begin to talk about this?! So, that said, I can only really speak from my experience. Fortunately, there are a lot of common themes that allow pregnant and formerly pregnant people to connect on a profound level... and dish on some realness.
Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a magical pregnancy, your experience is real and valid and you should never feel the need to apologize for voicing your story. The truth is, however, that the "perfect pregnancy" narrative, in which the pregnant person often feels nothing but miraculous feelings, is often misrepresented as the norm. So please consider this alternative view of growing a future human:
Even A Welcomed Pregnancy Can Feel Like An Invasion
I've been pregnant three times, and each time (after an initial wave of panic the first time around) I was very pleased to be in such a state. Even so, there were times (often, in fact) when I found pregnancy deeply unsettling. The knowledge that there's a tiny creature inside of you who's making you feel different can be really wonderful... and it can also be like, "WTF is this? Give me some space or mind your manners!"
And it's not even always a matter of having a rough pregnancy, either. Sometimes it's just a matter of knowing the enormity of what's going on inside of you that can be off-putting.
Hating Pregnancy Has Nothing To Do With Your "Maternal Instincts"
Guys, not to toot my own horn here, but I'm a kickass mom. Like... I'm awesome. My feelings on my pregnancies were no indication of how I'd handle actual motherhood. So if you have feelings of guilt or sadness or think that finding pregnancy annoying means you're not "meant" for motherhood, tell those feelings they're stupid and go on with your day confident in the knowledge that this is a totally separate issue from your ability to love and care for your baby.
There Are New, Crappy Symptoms Around Every Corner
Pregnancy is the hydra of annoying ailments. As soon as you're done with one (say, nausea) three more spring up in its place (sciatica, shortness of breath, and swelling). Hey, maybe you'll be one of those lucky folks who doesn't deal with many or any of these issues... or you can be like me and deal with, like, all of them over the better part of a year.
Your Pregnancy Glow Is Probably Sweat
I think there was a brief window during which I had a "pregnancy glow." I believe it was between 6:10 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. on May 6, 2014. The rest of the time it was just looking drawn and, if I was glowing, it was more of a glistening of sweat. I'm not a sweaty person naturally, but pregnancy does things to you, man.
Sweat Is The Least Of Your Body Fluid Issues
So. Many. Fluids. Just think of a body fluid. Literally any body fluid with the exception of menstrual blood. You will be making infinitely more of it than you were before you got pregnant. You're just a human aquarium, splashing all over the place.
Your Hair Gets Thicker & Healthier
Healthy, thick, shiny hair is a great pregnancy side effect. (Nails, too. Every manicure I got while pregnant was accompanied by a compliment from the technician telling me how strong they were.) But, friend? Here's a casual reminder that you're a mammal and therefore have hair on places other than your head. So wherever it grows... it's gonna grow, understand? Just be prepared. (And also be prepared for a growing belly making it crazy difficult and awkward to remove that hair.)
"Nine Months" May As Well Be A Myth
First of all, one is generally pregnant for 40 weeks, which is actually closer to 10 months than nine. But more importantly, 40 is, like, nature's suggestion. Some people pop early (my youngest was a solid two weeks earlier than expected) and others naturally bake their infants a little longer, stretching to 42 weeks (or even beyond)! So don't embroider anything with your due date on it just yet (even if you have a scheduled C-section, because babies like to play little tricks on us all the time), because your due date is likely going to be somewhere within four weeks of that day.
If You Don't Sleep Through 90 Percent Of Your Pregnancy You'll Wish You Could
Make the most of your last days of baby-free life, they'll say. Make sure to get out, they'll say. HA! Chances are you're going to be so damn tired that you're going to be napping whenever you can. It's like the Universe's way of making it up to you preemptively.
Idiots Will Make You Cry
Humans are remarkable creatures who have spent millennia manipulating the world around them through the genius of their invention and social skills, but they're also raging morons when it comes to pregnancy, women, and pregnant women. So completely random people will come up to you and tell you how huge you are, or creep you out with maternity horror stories, or tell you what you should or shouldn't be eating. Those people suck. Ignore them as best you can.
You Are Very Likely In For Some Permanent Body Changes
"Don't worry," many well-meaning pregnancy books assure would-be moms. "Your body will go back to normal once you give birth!"
But, like, not really. That's not say that some things won't basically go back to normal, or that some things won't more or less completely "bounce back," but a lot of things are going to be different from here on out. It makes sense, considering you just went through something huge.
Your Fetus Has No Opinion On Mozart
I'm sorry, but, no. We have established that putting headphones playing classical music over your belly doesn't really do anything. Hey, it's cute, and if it's a fun thing for you to do to do some bonding prep-work, that's great! But don't worry about your child not being smart or refined enough because you missed your daily "Baroque Break."
You'll Probably Panic At Some Point
Be it over the general knowledge that your life is about to dramatically change or. "OMG! DID MY CHICKEN TERIYAKI TOUCH YOUR SUSHI?! HAVE I POISONED MY BABY!?!?! CALL 911!" you're going to have at least one (but probably many more) minor and major freak-outs. This is annoying (for you and, yes, the cooler heads around you) and totally normal and forgivable.
You'll Probably Panic About Things That Are So Not A Big Deal At All
I don't blame you, though. There are a ton of rules and a lot of "rules" and it's hard to keep them straight. Truthfully, a whole lot of the ones people make a whole to-do over are basically non-issues.
You Are More Clueless Than You Think Yet More Capable Than You Realize
Just about every first-time pregnant woman I've known believes they know exactly how they're going to give birth and raise their as-yet-hypothetical child. "Nothing will make me choose an epidural!" "I'll never give formula!" "I'd die before I co-slept." "If my kid doesn't like what I cook them they'll go to bed hungry!"
While many or even most of your noblest convictions and commitments will be honored through your motherhood, there are going to be a million and five ways you deviate from your plans, and you honestly don't know which of those plans will change.
You think you'll be different. You think other moms are just lazy. But you really have no idea. That's not your fault, either, because none of us did.
On the other hand, there are so many things new mothers doubt about themselves — their ability to even be a mother, much less an effective or good one, how they're going to manage, how they're going to learn — and to that I say: you are better equipped than you realize and you'll learn, just like the rest of us.