You expect it to be a rollercoaster of emotions and struggles and trials. Nine months of constant ups and downs. But it turns out that nine months is a really long time, filled with day-to-day tasks and worries and distractions and joys. You go to work, you hang out with friends, you pursue your hobbies, you pay the bills, you make a good dinner, you binge watch Netflix… life goes on. In the end, you can’t spend the entirety of forty weeks dwelling on this one aspect of your life (though granted, it can be harder to ignore in those final few weeks). I really didn’t want to focus on my pregnancy. I may not have been depressed or miserable anymore, but it was still weird and unpleasant and not the happiest thing for me to think about. So I just didn’t.
There were plenty of other things to prioritize. My sister’s wedding had taken most of my focus in April, and now I was starting a new job in the David’s Bridal alteration department (knowing how to sew saved my butt again – thanks mother!) and looking for an apartment – the very first apartment I would rent and live in completely on my own, in fact. I let these things take top priority and pushed away getting insurance, finding an adoption agency, and visiting a doctor for another month. Or, you know… never. Now it was time to move forward with the dull realities of everyday life. Can’t say I wasn’t happy to ignore my slowly growing stomach.
Despite my mother delivering seven babies to term and losing three too early, I don’t remember her saying much of anything about what pregnancy was like for her. I know her hair changed from blonde to auburn during her first pregnancy. I remember her saying she only had acne while pregnant. The anecdote I remember the most is “I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the tub when I was nine months pregnant!” This was employed when we complained about cleaning the bathroom. Ironically, I recently found myself saying something very similar concerning the work I was taking on at both my jobs right up to the day before I delivered. Ah yes, we all turn into our mothers.
With so many pregnancies, maybe the details just blurred together too much for my mother to pick out specifics. Or maybe she just never had many side effects. Unfortunately, I can’t ask her anymore.
People always laugh when I call them “pregnancy side effects.” But that’s what they are, right? I mean, I can just imagine a TV commercial with a young woman blissfully sprinting through a field of flowers on a sunny day while a peaceful voice overhead informs you: “The side effects of pregnancy may be _____, _____, _____…” Fill in the blanks with whatever happened to you during your three terms of carrying life.
I consider myself pretty lucky because I had so few side effects. Scratch that. Forget “lucky” – I have a theory as to why so little happened to me. Bear with me here.
I really think that the reason I had so few side effects through my three trimesters was because my pregnancy was the last thing on my mind. At the beginning, I had nausea and loss of appetite from the depression – a result of constantly thinking about my pregnancy (and, you know, the initial shock). Once I set that aside, the negative symptoms went with it. I had hair loss and dry skin which promptly ended when I got off the prenatal vitamins. Other than that, I don’t remember having any “problems” up until I started working with the adoption agency and seeing my midwives – therefore, thinking about my pregnancy more often.
Even then though, I didn’t associate stuff with the pregnancy. My midwives would ask me if I had experienced trouble sleeping, constipation, headaches, back pain, etc. Of course! I had all that before I was pregnant, why wouldn’t I have it now? At first, I would say no because I didn’t think a headache here and there was pregnancy-related. When I finally started telling them I was having trouble sleeping sometimes or whatever it was, I was so surprised that they immediately offered remedies and ways to ease any discomfort. My response to trouble sleeping has always been, “Well, I guess I’ll be tired enough to sleep better tomorrow.” I mean, even when I first started feeling my baby move (around month five), I just thought I was gassy!
Going back to those early times though, there were so many commonly-talked-about pregnancy side affects that I never experienced. Morning sickness, food cravings or aversions, tender breasts, hormonal mood swings… nope. So maybe if you aren’t constantly thinking about your pregnancy and your baby, reading books and stories about birth, waiting with baited breath for those symptoms to show up, then they simply… won’t. Maybe if you are too busy focusing on the rest of your life, then you won’t have time for side effects.
Or maybe that’s all a giant crock of crap, and I just got really lucky. I can accept that. By May, I was legitimately and surprisingly happy with my life. Besides having gotten a job that I was actually enjoying and taking on my very first apartment, I had also stepped up my relationship with my best friend from the ship (the one who was so comforting after I got the positive test) from friendship to dating. Despite the long distance (he was working another contract on a cruise ship), his daily presence in my life via texting and Facetime and constant loving support lifted my spirits beyond anything I could have imagined. I remember specifically realizing at some point that I felt real joy with my life and pausing a moment just to take that in. Keeping busy, surrounding yourself with people who care about you, and choosing a positive attitude can make all the difference. What had begun as a depressing disaster was already turning into something beautiful.