I told someone today that I was pregnant and the person said, “Congratulations!” and I politely nodded and continued eating. And they said, “That’s so exciting. Are you excited?” and I said, “Yes, sort of,” the way you might respond if someone congratulated you on landing a brand new job that was much more stressful than your old job and that was filled with pain and uncertainty and sleeplessness and also paid nothing. When I text the news to people I feel like they would like me to use extremely cheerful emoticons, like “Grinning Face” or “Face with tears of Joy,” and I normally respond with “Tired Face” or “Face With Open Mouth And Cold Sweat.” Occasionally I will use the one that looks like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”
I do not love being pregnant.
And I feel left out, not loving something that so many people seem to love. I am trying to love it, the way I occasionally try to love mushrooms because for years food-loving friends have told me that they are “earthy and fantastic” but every time I try them I immediately wince and go, “Ughhhh– what is everyone talking about?? These are terrible.”
I’m sure that being pregnant is sometimes, for some people, really terrific. I’ve seen dozens of effervescent pregnant women, sashaying through pregnancy with the sort of enthusiasm I might have if I were suddenly handed an adorable yellow duckling or front row Hamilton tickets. The eyelashes on these women are long, like big, beautiful spider-legs, and their ponytails are high up and the pregnancy wardrobes in their Instagram photos feature chevron-print maxi dresses and the effortless use of scarves while I normally leave the house wearing something resembling a pillowcase.
I am about 19 weeks into this pregnancy and every day I more strongly resemble a croissant—small on the ends, wide in the middle, and embarrassingly flaky. I constantly leave the door unlocked or the oven on or turn on the back burner of the stove when I wanted to turn on the front one, filling my apartment with the smell of my empty, burning teakettle. I have lost three umbrellas in the span of seven days.
I sometimes fall asleep at 7:30 because the energy drains from my body faster than the power in a 4 year-old iPhone battery. Some days I am inexplicably sad. My pelvis is coming apart and has to be held together with large elastic body braces, which is going to be really terrific in the heat of July. I cry at things I would not normally cry at (The Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat soundtrack) and I cry more at things I would cry at anyway (Sad news stories. The Giving Tree.). Lately something has been happening under my ribs that causes an intense, sharp pain when I breathe. Walking is becoming hard. Sitting in cars is also painful.
I have never once felt like I was one with the earth, if that was a thing I was supposed to feel. I do not “glow.” There is a lot of pressure for pregnancy to feel magical and when pressed I will admit that yes, pregnancy can feel magical, but very often it feels less “rainbows and unicorns” magical, and more “Possibly Voldemort is behind this?” magical.
I’m not sure exactly what I had hoped for.
Possibly I had hoped that pregnancy would bring me the same euphoric feelings I get when I play with a puppy or when I read a story about two different species of animals that, against all odds, became friends because nothing (and I mean nothing) warms my heart like the mutual nuzzling of a Labrador Retriever and a baby cheetah. But this is not what pregnancy has felt like. I will assume both that there is some particular hormone that makes pregnant women excited about being pregnant and that, for whatever reason, my body is not producing it. I will visit my primary care physician and have her look into this.
I am ok with not liking pregnancy. I feel a little left out, but it is fine—I know I won’t be pregnant forever. And I intend no disrespect toward anyone who has worked very hard or struggled to get pregnant. While I don’t enjoy pregnancy and would rather have my eyeballs cauterized than sleep train a newborn again, raising a young child is one of my favorite things that I have ever done. And the bad part of telling people I don’t love being pregnant is having them think that because I don’t love pregnancy, I don’t love children. I think children are amazing, I am just not particularly enamored of the painful 9-month process of making and (eventually) delivering one. Someone once told me to write out my ideal birth plan and I handed them a paper with the word “Stork.”
I have been pregnant once before. I have a three year-old, my feelings for whom have turned me into a lunatic because I was overwhelmed—completely flattened—by the love I was capable of feeling for him. Every day is a struggle not to stop complete strangers on the sidewalk and talk about how wonderful I think he is.
And yet as much I as I love my son, I will never be a hearts-for-eyes emoji sort of person. (Or even a “tears of joy” emoji user even though I know those are the two most popular.) My go-to face when talking about my son is the rosy cheeked “Smiling face with smiling eyes” emoji, whereas my go-to for the pregnancy is currently “persevering face,” “anxious face,” or any of the overwhelmed faces with their eyes X’d out from exhaustion.
Being pregnant has not been fantastic. But loving a child has been fantastic. My son is fantastic. And I’m certainly not recommending “child-having” for everyone since, unlike the earlier-mentioned scenarios of cuddling a duckling or obtaining front row Hamilton tickets (or honestly, even obstructed view Hamilton tickets), I in no way feel like having a child will be wonderful for everyone. But it worked really well for me. Despite the rough parts, it seemed more than worth it to try it again.
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If you enjoyed the post, I wrote a book on how, in addition to pregnancy, the first two years of child-having do not always go seamlessly. The book is called Welcome to the Club. You can pre-order it here.
Or down here.
Yoo hoo. Also, here.
Not this. This is a link to a Wikipedia article about socket wrenches.
This one is coupons for contact lens solution.
And here’s one final one for the book again. Feel free to follow me on Facebook or Twitter or just Google The Ugly Volvo and you’ll find my stuff mixed in with actual pictures of Volvos. Thanks for reading.
Also, on the image that reads “giant bird swoops in, delivers baby,” I obviously mean that the bird delivers the baby to me fully formed in a little satchel, similar to one a hobo would carry on a train. Not that a giant bird is acting as the midwife/OB although honestly, now that I’m thinking about it, it doesn’t really matter. However you interpret it is fine.