Awwww, pregnancy. That one little word provokes so many emotions – excitement, love, fulfillment. The list can go on and on. When I learned I was pregnant with my second child, I experienced all of the above. My body was filled with exhilaration, and I felt that I was on cloud nine…until the fear, anxiety, and dread started to set in.
I endured a truly horrible first pregnancy with my daughter three years ago. Just like Princess Kate, I suffered through acute morning sickness and severe food aversions which essentially lasted my entire pregnancy. The nausea and repugnance of certain smells (especially chicken) transformed me into a recluse. I was forced to discontinue shopping at grocery stores, eating at restaurants, having lunch with co-workers, and spending time with friends, all because I never knew what would trigger uncontrollable vomiting. Moreover, the acid reflux and indigestion were so caustic that I wound up in the hospital with breathing issues.
I was, and still am, the only woman I know who actually lost weight during her pregnancy… a total of 31 pounds. My OBGYN and perinatologist actually commanded me to consume hot fudge sundaes and large, buttered popcorns at the movies. Who ever heard of doctors tell them to eat unhealthy?!?! In addition to my digestive issues, I also experienced several more “typical” pregnancy side effects – leg cramps, sciatica, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome and hormonal acne to name a few. You name it, I probably had it.
In spite of my difficult pregnancy, I was blessed to have an easy, fast, and complication-free delivery of my beautiful, healthy daughter Natalie. My mother said as soon as my daughter was born I would forget the perils of my pregnancy and cherish my new baby. She was half-right. I love Natalie more than anything in the whole world, but I sure didn’t forget about those endless months of feeling inhuman. My doctor even advised my husband and me not to have another child for at least a year to allow my body to recover. To be honest, I was so terrified of becoming pregnant again that I had no desire to even think about expanding our family.
So after more than two years of mentally preparing myself to feel the brutal effects of pregnancy again, one can imagine why I experienced the myriad of both positive and negative emotions when my pregnancy test resulted in the flashing “positive”.
Luckily the second time around for me hasn’t been nearly as bad as the first, but I certainly wouldn’t say being pregnant is easy on me. The first few months, I endured a level of exhaustion that I didn’t even think was possible. The nausea set in around Week 6 and lasted until around Week 18. My supervisor at work would jokingly tease me about how miserable I looked while trying to consume crackers to avoid throwing up at work. He commented that pregnancy is just a “necessary evil.”
What a wonderful comparison, I thought. Pregnancy for me is a necessary evil, something that consumes my body for ten months and makes me feel like anything but the normal, vibrant, energetic foodie that I typically am. By no means am I the poster child of the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman that we see on TV or the cover of Fit Pregnancy. That is NOT me.
Quite frankly, I’ve struggled with guilt for not feeling the wonders of pregnancy and for knowing that there are plenty of women struggling with fertility issues who would do anything to be in my shoes. I do not wish to trivialize their struggle at all. But I also know it’s okay for me to feel like a big, uncomfortable, miserable hulk of a woman who doesn’t enjoy the journey, but is still incredibly grateful for the end result.