5 REAL Things I Learnt When I Got Pregnant
Hi, my name is Sabi and I am pregnant. *Hi Sabi*. As I write this piece I am 23 weeks pregnant which roughly means a little over five months, or currently entering my sixth month. Although I could be wrong as when regular math is not your strong suit, pregnancy math is here to act like the algebraic equivalent. Anywho, I am with child and there were a handful of things I had to grasp very early, with no real warning whatsoever. I don’t mean that in an I-live-in-the-clouds-and-had-no-idea-what-to-expect, notion, I mean some certain symptoms or nuances hit you quick, and hard. In an attempt to serve as some sort of beacon of hope, or informative newbie I wanted to share with you, (whoever is interested in reading this) the five things that I learned when I got pregnant, and what they feel like.
Cravings Are Weird (+ Wonderful)
So I never really understood the word ‘cravings’ in the maternity sense. I have regular cravings all the time without child - I crave sushi on a random Tuesday, I’ll make the argument for pizza two days in a row, and I will never ignore my need for ice cream. Therefore, pregnancy cravings seemed a little bit odd, and everywhere I looked it was all about pickles. Do all women crave pickles apart from me? I don’t think I’ve even had one in the last year! What I can describe my food cravings as is more of a mental strain where you cannot think about anything else. The first time a food pairing took over my brain capacity, was when I was eight weeks in and all I wanted to eat for dinner was bread and cheese. I couldn’t think of anything else, and I wasn’t even paying attention to what was on the television until my other half went out to get a literal loaf of sourdough and a wedge of cheddar
I could not, for the life of me, think about anything other than a bowl of overly fibrous cereal! Once we got home, I went to three separate delis just to find it, after which I sat on the sofa and devoured two helpings! Ladies, it’s a trick of the mind, and you will have to give in.
Baby Brain Is No Myth
The much-storied ‘Baby Brain’. Talked about globally, and proven by science, I still until this day am frightened for when it strikes. The first time I felt like I was going insane is when I microwave-cooked a plate of shrimp when I meant to defrost it. Up until the point of clicking the button to open the door, I knew that you have to hit either auto-defrost or timed-defrost, (we’re prawn fans here, you see). However, after the door was shut, my fingers magically moved towards ‘high power’ and set the clock for five minutes. By minute 2.5 I knew something was off as the kitchen smelled like a hot fishmonger. I retrieved the plate to find cooked shrimp, in all its pink glory. “Wonderful!” I thought, do I risk a bacterial infection and throw it into the stirfry or shall we do this mundane task again, this time with no BABY BRAIN! It’s like a last-minute decision button that flicks when you’re about to do something simple like hit a floor in the elevator, and before you know it you’re staring blankly at the console and the bystanders are wondering if you’re an intruder in your building.
Restroom = No Rest
You know in the film when a woman is pregnant and she’s up and down in the restroom every 10 minutes as she’s nine months along and the baby is sitting on her bladder? Yeah well, it’s a farce. Turns out, you will need to visit the loo (I’m British, go with it) frequently all day, and all night from the minute your little pregnancy test stick turns positive. According to my OBGYN, it is to do with increased blood flow to your kidneys and bladder mixed with your body’s new, high-alert system that flushes out waste more rapidly (pun fully intended). So, sleep deprivation from getting up every two hours to go to the restroom started at around week five and has yet to stop. If you’re good at basic maths, that means that I haven’t slept more than three hours in five months. As I stumble to the bathroom at 2 am, 4:30 am, 6:30 am, I pass the oven clock on the way and all I think is, “Is this some sort of military training enforced on pregnant women to get them used to sleepless nights? Did I sign up for a crash course on how to function as a human on no real sleep before a child arrives, so that when it is here I can bounce up from my slumber at 4 am like there’s a sale at Barney’s?” I don’t remember signing anything, but that, ladies, is how this cookie is crumbling. If anyone wants to text me at the intervals mentioned above, feel free, I’ll be there for you.
Mother Nature Loves Fatigue
Making a human being out of tiny cells is a big deal, not only in metaphorical or romantic terms but in terms of your body working. And boy does it work hard! I have been anemic my entire life so I have a good handle on what fatigue is, however, that handle was a far reach when I got pregnant. The tiredness associated with growing a tiny human in your belly is something I have never felt before, and while I type I am struggling to find the words to even describe it in prose. I can only exemplify it as the need to lie down at roughly 3:35 pm every day because your mind feels foggy and you find it hard to write the line, “I hope this email finds you well,” in a work email. It’s climbing up the subway stairs and feeling winded like you’ve just run a marathon when really, you’re just walking to the L train at Union Square. Pregnancy fatigue is tough, I won’t sugar coat it, but what does help thinking about, as you crawl your way home at the end of the day and adopt a bedtime of 7:45 pm, is this; your body is creating life. It is building a tiny heart, a pair of functioning lungs, kidneys, and a fully-fledged brain. The amount of energy your little one needs from you, is, therefore, justified and so is the tiredness. Pregnancy is often compared to as an endurance sport, so to all the mama’s out there who are reading this with one eye open, you’re not alone, give yourself a break, you’re building a human - let that sink in.
Mind Vs. Body
Personally, the toughest symptom, or rather feeling I felt needed to be talked about is the change in the relationship between your mind and body.
It is a huge reality check to something until that day lived in your mind as a dream or plan. The crossover between wanting and having is a shift I still, five months on, am grappling with. There’s anxiety for a host of reasons, excitement, fear of the unknown, happiness married with sadness (hormones) and shock. A few things that have helped me accept these emotions, which hit me like waves at the beach, are meditation and yoga, sitting in the feeling you’re having without judging yourself, and repeatedly affirming out loud or mentally, “I am not alone in this feeling, and I am strong enough to get through.” Books, films, TV shows and even some women will romanticize this time for you like a big, glowy, goddess-like feeling when in reality, there are days you feel the opposite. It is because it is so heavily fabricated that when you do feel off, you end up feeling guilty. Ladies, there is no shame in having a bad day, or feeling like crying, or not glowing and sweating instead, because, underneath that powerhouse of a woman you are, you are still 100% human. Your feelings are not discounted or should not be masked because you’re pregnant and feel like you should be happy ALL THE TIME. Read that line again and again, until you believe it.