I wish I'd written this while actually pregnant, but alas: I have an outside baby now, but am trying to reach back to 3 weeks ago to remember what it was like to be knocked up.
Ah, yes. I remember now: MISERY.
It's hard to think about anything but the recent trauma of being grotesquely pregnant in the Texas August heat, but all things considered, I actually had a fabulous pregnancy. We were lucky.
The worst part of my first trimester -- barftown USA -- was gloriously timed so that I could wallow on the couch or in bed during a 2-week holiday break from work. Unfortunately, because those early weeks coincided with the holidays, I was drinking club soda at parties and bubbling over with excitement and so the whole world knew we were pregnant by the 8-week mark. Tacky, maybe; but I was real excited and about to bust out of my jeans, literally and figuratively.
We found out we were having a boy around 12 weeks. I knew in my bones that we were having a boy; I had wanted a girl for as long as I can remember (I had grand visions of attending Taylor Swift concerts together and teaching her how to put on makeup; what the hell was I going to do with a boy?) -- but around 8 weeks, I was CONVINCED we were having a boy. I told everyone. We did a blood test around 10 weeks to screen for a variety of scary complications, and lo and behold: mama had some Y chromosome action going on and was carrying a little dude. It's a good thing we had gone ahead and found out the sex; he and his little weenor were not shy on his ultrasounds as the pregnancy progressed.
The second trimester was superb. I felt great, I figured out what sounded good when literally zero foods sounded palatable: yogurt with granola, any fruit on the earth except apples, Taco Bell crunchy beef tacos and Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches. I felt Middleton-pregnant (not walrus-pregnant) and was focused wholly on one of the busiest and bumpiest stages of my career. I had a three-week stretch of travel to both coasts and it made my back hurt, but otherwise the second tri was a dream and I slept a lot in my Snoogle cocoon.
The third trimester was a spectacle. I was huge. I waddled. The only shoes that fit me were size 12 Tieks, cheap Target sandals and a pair of Madewell wedges that made me feel like a potato on stilts. Men at work acted strangely around me, and people made comments about my body constantly -- which is a weird thing about pregnancy, really: friends and strangers feel comfortable making the size of your body a topic of small talk at bathroom sinks. Time moved at a glacial pace; weeks 35 and on felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, knowing someone was going to come up and push me over, but I just didn't know when. It was hot. I was ready to get this show on the road. I was a miserable tornado of bitchiness and complaining. Looking back, I slept a lot and ate whatever; it really wasn't that bad. I probably should have slept more, and I definitely should have spent more time mentally preparing for the jarring transition from being a selfish eating machine to keeping a tiny selfish eating machine alive.
There are some shitty bits about pregnancy, for sure. The cruel irony of having sensational cravings and a massive appetite with inadequate stomach space; the vague understanding that sleep will be hard to come by once the baby comes out, but a bladder the size of a pea is relentlessly disruptive and the tiny dolphin doing flips in your abdomen has other plans anyway. Zika. Maternity clothes in general (TRASH TRASH TRASH), but particularly designer maternity jeans which are clearly the Joe's/Seven/Paige factory rejects with a very thick pantyhose-like band sewn shittily to the top that never stays up, ever ever ever. The anxiety of not knowing what's going on in there, which I attempted to mitigate by trying to negotiate an ultrasound at like every OB appointment. Lastly, maternity leave in this country? We all deserve better.
But there were also some wonderful things about pregnancy, and here they are: First, my husband was a gold star, A+ husband. He massaged my back frequently, and my nastyass feet once. No food ever sounded good, and it was impossible to do the meal planning & cooking for the week when the dinner I selected on Sunday sounded heinous when it was time to cook it on Wednesday. Grocery shopping and cooking is my singular household responsibility, and I turned on the stove three whole times (to make pancakes) in 9 months -- so he cooked for himself every night without complaint, and then eventually gave in to eating fast food/frozen pizza/trash from a dumpster alongside me by the end. He was also just generally helpful and interested and involved and concerned, enthusiastically joining me for TV in bed immediately after work most nights near the end when the fatigue was overwhelming. Oh, and don't worry: we ate more indulgently than we'd eaten in years, with nary a vegetable on anyone's plate -- and he actually lost weight. Cool.
Secondly, other women. I knew becoming a mother would change my relationships with other mothers in my life, but I never realized how profoundly supportive and understanding and important those relationships would become. Almost immediately after announcing my pregnancy at work, a handful of moms in the office reached out individually to begin building a new relationship with me. As my due date ticked closer and my career concerns converged with my motherhood concerns, those women were sounding boards and counselors and truth-tellers in a way I needed badly. That was great.
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment of the last 9 months, besides successfully growing a human and keeping us both fed, was choosing a name. Boy names are terrible. We had 72 girl names picked out, and not a single boy name appealed to us because of the following: all the good names are too common, all the unusual names are stupid, and all the pleasant names are associated with someone one of us disliked at some point in our lives. So we made a list of 10 names we could find nothing wrong with, read them aloud every night for a few weeks, and crossed off the names we spontaneously decided to hate as the days progressed. We landed on Casey because we both didn't hate it, it's not very common lately, and (we realized later) it sounds like KC.
In his 3 weeks of life, he has been referred to as a "she" by no less than 3 nurses at the hospital or pediatrician's office, so there's that. But the birth certificate is printed and the kid already has a social security card so, the deed is done. He can go ahead and get an early start on his list of grievances against his parents. But I will also note that our other favorite name was Graham and we were kind enough to spare him the humiliation of going through life as Graham Thacker.
Finally, here is a list of products every pregnant woman needs:
- The Snoogle
- Belly Band (til your ass gets too big for your pre-preg jeans, true life)
- Actual maternity dresses (I AM HERE TO TELL YOU: YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY DRESSES ARE TOO SHORT); mine came from ASOS, but I thoroughly enjoyed a couple standbys from Old Navy and A Pea in the Pod
- Preggie Pops at the beginning for nausea
- The book 'Expecting Better' by Emily Oster
- Cocoa Butter lotion, which does absolutely nothing for stretch marks or dryness, but makes you smell like chocolate which I really, really enjoyed!
- A Bota Box, so you can have a single glass of wine without the whole bottle going bad
- Rainbow Light prenatals, which are gentle on your tummy and turn your pee neon green so you're reminded of whether or not you remembered to take it
- A Kindle so you can read in bed with minimal light when you wake up at 3 am and can't get back to sleep ever; sorry, it's real.
- These tanks.
- Babylist registry, which allows people to buy stuff you want from wherever they want -- instead of forcing them to go into BuyBuyBaby, the worst place on the earth.
- These blessed sleep shorts.