Did you know that if you’ve never been pregnant before – that you will not feel pregnant for a long time? You will however feel nauseous, extremely tired, pee an abnormally frequent amount, cry all the time, and feel like you’ve become a pudgy slob regardless of your dietary choices and exercise commitments.
I had naively assumed that my brain would comprehend this experience in some way. And that as I slowly outgrew my pants I’d be like: “Yeah, cool. This is normal and healthy.” … but alas no. Instead I experienced some resurfaced, super sweet body image issues from my eating disorder days that have really given me a run for my money.
I am nearly 6 months into this process – and still look in the mirror and think: “Ummm… a bit fat much?? What’s with the love handles? OMG YOUR ASS. The fetus does not extend to your ass. WHAT IS HAPPENING?”
I’ve also learned that food aversion is REAL. And that my sense of smell is comparable to a werewolf from Twilight. So not only do I feel AWFUL about how I look – but lettuce tastes like dirt, broccoli tastes like farts, I hate fish (non-pregnant me LOVES fish) and morning smoothies are out because anything sweet makes me wanna hurl.
So yeah. Having an aversion to nearly every fruit and vegetable, and healthy protein, is making it difficult for me to feel good about my diet – and in turn, all the more challenging to accept the changes in my body. (Guys. Please don’t ask me how many Eggos or Pizza Pops I’ve eaten. I don’t want to talk about it.)
Now, on top of all this expectation I’ve placed on myself and my body – I’ve also been having severe, nearly crippling anxiety and depression about being responsible for an actual, real life, breathing, pooping, human child. The first thing people say when they find out you’re knocked up is: “Oh!! That’s amazing! You must be SO excited!!” (Also sometimes they squeal and cry too.)
No. I’m not at all excited. I’m terrified. (And fat.) I feel like some teenage girl that ‘got in trouble’ [that’s an 80s reference for all you Gen Xers out there. I gotchu.] and is now mourning the loss of her life and body that’s about to be ruined by having a baby. All my ambitions just down the toilet now… what a waste.
As of April 2020 I will become a slave to a tiny milk-fuelled alien that will destroy the body that I hold so dear (and ironically criticize SO often), deprive me of precious sleep, rob me of freedom and normal social interaction, turn my beautiful nipples into chapped and broken chew toys… like – what am I missing here? What about this is supposed to be exciting?
I keep hearing about the way they smell. This is an abstract concept to me. I imagine they smell like poop – because that’s all they do all day. No? I’ll follow up with you on this.
Here’s the thing. I have read SO many parenting articles (I have for years because I’m weird like that) and there are so many bloggers that will happily and candidly tell you about the trails and challenges of new parenthood. But I haven’t read ANYTHING about the perils of pregnancy. No, no. Not hemorrhoids, congestion, morning sickness, back pain, mood swings, water retention (etc) – that I knew about. I’m talking about the actual, real, legitimate struggles with mental health, the severe body dysmorphia, the debilitating anxiety, the overwhelming depression, and the parts where someone might be feeling like: WHY did I do this? Why did we decide that we wanted this? … Maybe I don’t want this at all. Maybe this was a huge mistake.
And I’m having such a hard time leaning on that ONE reason: the abstract concept that people LOVE their kids. Like an incomparable amount.
Let me put it to you this way: I love my husband A LOT. I love him so much. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone in my whole life. (That’s a lot. Just so you know.) – but if that muthafugger ripped my vagina, rubbed sandpaper on my nips, and only let me sleep 3 hours a day… I’d be like: “Um yeah… PEACE OUT.”
So you see – I can’t quite wrap my head around this concept of unconditional love; because I have never, not once in my life experienced it. I see it. I have observed people with their children… I understand it as a concept… but in practicality… to try to visualize it – imagine it … get excited about it? No, I just can’t get there. It’s too much. It would be like trying to translate hieroglyphics… I get that there’s something being communicated, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
I mean. I’m committed at this point. I’m not hitting the escape button or anything. And if I lost this pregnancy I know I would feel an overwhelming amount of sorrow – and likely shame, guilt, and self-blame for having the feelings I currently do. But bare with me as I wobble through this completely foreign experience. I’m used to being good at things without much effort. This is really throwing a wrench in my usual swagger.