Monday, June 6, 2011

24 Weeks Pregnant, or, What the Fetuses Don't Want You To Know About Pregnancy

Almost 24 weeks pregnant and still growing. Still managing to get down on the ground to have fun with my kid whenever I can. Here we are blowing bubbles together over Memorial Day weekend.

Cute, right? But please don't tell me I glow or that I only carry the weight in my belly. Spare me. I know it's not true.

This second pregnancy is a whole lot like the first one, except that during the first one I had time to tend to my aches and pains, go to prenatal yoga and get prenatal massages. I also didn't mind the various symptoms - even the nausea and exhaustion -  because it was so exciting to be pregnant and see how my body reacted to growing another human. This time, it's a lot less fun. First of all, it's summer. I am so done with this weather that it kills me to think it's just getting started. How did I manage to plan a pregnancy that would span ALL the warmer months in NYC? Clearly I wasn't thinking. Luckily, my symptoms are almost exactly the same this time but how I deal with them is entirely different. Now I complain a lot more. But if you had all this on top of the whole carrying a fetus around for 40 weeks thing, wouldn't you?

  • Stinky and swollen feet
  • Constipation and gas
  • Hair growing like weeds
  • Waddling like a duck
  • A swamp in my underpants
  • Sore and oversensitive boobs
  • Wild mood swings to rival my adolescent self
  • So tired but can't sleep or even get comfortable enough to rest
  • Weight and water gain everywhere
  • Back, neck, and sciatic nerve pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • A permanent wedgie

Hot stuff, right? I'm dying to know... is this all REALLY just me? And assuming it isn't, why did no one tell me about this stuff? The books don't mention a lot of this and I get that it's not pretty, but I now feel like there's a whole darker side of pregnancy that the fetuses don't want you to know about!

My husband claims he still finds bloated-and-pregnant me attractive but honestly with this crap plaguing me day in and day out, I can't figure out why. I see maternity ads with tall, skinny ladies in jewelry, makeup, high heels and flowy dresses that show off their twiggy arms and legs and their adorably round bump and I think, what species are these people? I get jealous of pregnant women I see on the street who wear normal shoes and carry a purse on one shoulder. But who are they kidding? They can't really be human.

Me? I am heavy and tired and cranky. I wear a big ugly backpack to evenly distribute the weight of my stuff (two parts work papers, three parts lunch and snacks!) which makes my back sweaty. What's worse is that I clip the straps across my chest to help my back bear the weight, so I look like a total tool from all sides.  I wear flip flops because my shoes don't fit anymore and heels are a distant memory. I wear my barely long enough to pull back hair in a ponytail because I hate the way it feels on my sweaty neck. My wedding rings are too tight but I don't want to take them off so my fingers look and feel like fat little sausage links. I may have gained less weight than I did the first time but a) I never lost it all to begin with and b) it's maybe 1.5 pounds of baby so far and the rest seems to be in my butt and my thighs, which now rub together annoyingly (and painfully) when I wear dresses. I do manicures and pedicures when I remember and I usually try to wear a little lipstick or some earrings to hide some of this horrorshow, but I know I'm not fooling anyone.

There's more. My little girl loves nothing more than to be carried around and held and I try to oblige her but I'm almost out of lap and I'm definitely out of waist so there's nowhere for all 27 pounds of her to sit or to ride easily. She's gotten good at clinging with her arms firmly around my neck and her legs wrapped tightly around me just over my belly, so I feel like a mama ape with her long-limbed offspring hanging off her. My back and neck hurt from all the stress of pregnancy, motherhood, work and life in general (and a defect in the curvature of my C4 and C5 vertebrae, as I recently discovered). It hurts so badly that the pain often keeps me up at night, but trying to leave work three times a week to get clear across town to see a chiropractor who charges me out of pocket is perhaps more stressful than if I didn't bother to get treated at all so I'm not sure it's even worth it. And about half the time the people on the subway pretend they don't see me so they don't have to give me a seat, which makes me grouchy at total strangers who are probably hurting or just tired themselves! (Or maybe they're just jerks who are too lazy and inconsiderate to stand up for me but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.) And I'm hungry all the time! And right now I am not deterred from eating because I am not nauseous anymore and I'm not big enough yet that there's no space in there for a full stomach. So I am really putting it away these days and I don't feel guilty about it at all. Lovely.

Still, I am so happy. We wanted this kid (though when I am mid-bitch and my husband says "don't forget, you asked for this!" I become homicidal. That is the WRONG thing to say!) and we couldn't be happier about her impending arrival. So it isn't that bad. She keeps me company when I can't sleep at night because she's up too. I talk to her. Johnny sings to her. I hold my hands on my belly, put Johnny's hands there so he can yell "Whoa! I felt that!" every time she kicks him. He and Thora both kiss my belly whenever they can and that is the best thing ever. She's got a name already and we are having fun just saying it shyly to each other out loud, getting used to it, thinking about the person this name will become. Walking helps too. I could walk for miles. It helps my stress levels, my back, my swelling. It clears my head. I know I need to do more massage and yoga too. But when? And what I wouldn't give for a full night's sleep.

Mamas who've done this more than once, what worked for you the second (or third, or fourth) time around?


  1. Oh man I just laughed really hard for a long time. That was so funny Aimee!! Your list of ailments are spot on. That is exactly the havoc pregnancy wreaks on women. And you didn't mention it, but near the end and shortly after birth I got hemorrhoids. Maybe you asked for this, but no only mothers know what it is like to NEVER have a break from being pregnant, not even for one second, during those 10 months. I remember wanting just one day to not be pregnant, then I would happily go back to being pregnant. But there is no break, and despite wanting your little girl, you have a right to express your frustration with the problems of pregnancy.

  2. Aimee -- have had C5/C6 vertebrae problems and swear to God that this little device saved my life. When a message therapist recommended it to me, I thought what the hell, I've tried everything it lives by my bed and whenever I have pain I lie in it for 10 or 15 minutes and it really helps a lot. Hope it might help you too!

  3. buy a pair of short bike shorts to wear under skirts (sans undies). it really helped the thigh rub issue. i know it seems like a nightmare to put on bike shorts at this point, but you can wear a skirt or dress every day!


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