This is what pregnancy means for me. Maybe it's different for you. Maybe it's not. This is what it's like for me.
To start with there's the waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting, followed by peeing. Then some more waiting. Sometimes by now there'll also be some nausea, tiredness and general crampiness. Not long after the waiting is over there will be the vague sense of my world closing around me. This will come back at various points over the ensuing months. It's a bittersweet feeling, for me.
The dietary restrictions will come in fully after some half-hearted efforts prior to the appearance of that little blue line. Feta and salami I shall miss the most, in a pita bread with some spinach leaves and some red onion, a little balsamic vinegar sprinkled in too, and put in my handbag for a nice cold lunch on the move. I'll give up foods and drinks I like and I'll also stop doing many things I enjoy like going for very long walks in the bush out of cellphone coverage. And roller-skating.
Next comes the nausea. Followed shortly thereafter by the vomiting. There's a large amount of both. Like a really really really large amount. None of this four football fields malarky, we are talking about so much that I lose weight in the first trimester even if I am eating more than usual. This also means there are a lot of trips to the toilet, that I need to always know where the nearest toilet is, and that there is a lot of toilet cleaning too. And probably some throwing up that happens sans toilet, like in a park or into a gutter or over a rubbish bin.
If I'm lucky it'll be predictable vomiting, which allows me to plan around it rather than just have to stay at home as a precaution. If I'm unlucky then workmates will hear me hurling before I'm ready to tell my boss, or I'll be stuck sitting on the toilet floor for prolonged periods, or I won't be able to drive on the motorway where I can't pull over with a few seconds notice. This bit may go well into the second trimester, and as for only happening in the morning, well that's bunkum. Although I'll probably be late to work a lot, either because I lost time throwing up as soon as I got up, or if I attempted to have some breakfast, or because I slept in from waking up in the night to vomit. Did you know you can throw up even when your stomach is empty? I do, now.
The tiredness will be continuing along nicely at this point. And very few people will know I'm pregnant, so no allowances, like being able to reduce evening work or early starts or travel less. Travel always exacerbates it all. Plane rides are bracketed by vomiting in the airport toilets (note to Wellington Airport: your toilets are too far from your exit gates) and distinguished by whether there is enough turbulence to put me in fear of my stomach contents. I'll probably fall asleep in the taxi on the way to and fro, and will definitely have to have the window down to avoid the soiling fee.
My skin might go to pot, but it might not. Same with my hair, which may be parched, or may just be so out of kilter from my inability to maintain it that I can't tell if it's dry and split or just a mess. Don't even mention the taming of my eyebrows, as they will be erraticly groomed, which is rather annoying for someone who relies so heavily on the sardonic eyebrow raise for emphasis. My nails will rebel and grow faster than ever before. Before I know it they'll need corralling so I can type and then it'll seem like only a week later before they need another clip.
Sometime soon I'll be able to tell people and then I have to deal with the sexist comments. "Isn't having a baby a career-limiting option?" Not for men, it seems. "You must want a boy/girl, everyone wants a boy/girl." Actually I'd just like a healthy baby and a healthy me, thanks very much. "Oh that must be why you are grumpy, because you're pregnant!" I think you'll find I'm grumpy because you are an arse. This will also be the time that I have a lot of internal rages that I don't express verbally. Facebook status updates may be written in extremis, and possibly unwisely.
There will be sore breasts, sore hips, sore back, sore abdomen, sore feet, and other sore bits that it would be impolite to mention in the refined company of this blog's readers. These will come and go throughout the coming months, and my wheat pack will become one of my most prized possessions. My ability to alleviate any pain through use of painkillers will be limited; even the drugs I can take I'll probably feel guilty about.
My least favourite bit will be the part with the heartburn. I never get heartburn normally and rarely get indigestion. Once the heartburn begins it will last for a really long time, possibly right up to the end. Gaviscon will become my nightcap, and sometimes I'll need a top-up in the wee smalls too. Eventually there will come a time when I will no longer gag when I try to that get that gluggy nectar down. I may even progress to a point where I lick it from the inside of the cap or drink it straight from the bottle. You will probably have heard that advice about how pregnant ladies should put their feet up to alleviate swelling and generally relax? It'll only make my heartburn worse. And possibly my breathing, depending on where the fetus is at the time. Hurrah!
And then we get to the bit which is characterised by having two pairs of pants, one skirt, five tops, and $30 pairs of pantyhose. Hopefully by the time I am down to only fitting into my slippers or jandals I won't have to go anywhere that requires real shoes. My rings will have to come off, as my hands, feet and ankles suddenly poof up and the skin gets all tight and uncomfortable. The slow waddling, which will have been an evening activity for the last couple of months, will become a full time affair. Stairs start to be obstacles to be surmounted through careful planning and consideration. Quick reactions will be impossible for the forseeable future, which is particularly annoying as I'll also start to have trouble gripping things properly. Short walks to the dairy, the nearest cafe, the shop on the other side of the mall, will be replaced by short drives and frustration with stupid people who cannot drive in carparks sensibly.
Throughout there will be times when I get stuck with needles and sent to an incredibly clean bathroom to pee on demand. These episodes will be fine if they are quickly followed by a period of brain fog, which will mean the edges quickly rub off the memories of having my blood removed and sitting there thinking of waterfalls with the taps running for interminable minutes of my life which I will never get back (not at the same time as the blood letting of course). Usually of course the brain fog comes at less convenient times, like in the middle of meetings or when I'm trying to write up my notes and I can't recall what the hell that squiggle meant. Or perhaps when I'm trying to introduce A to B and then I realise that I can't because I don't know one, or both, of their names anymore.
I might get a burst of energy at some point, but then again I might not. Whatever happens I will progressively get more and more tired as the months go on. I'll become impatient for it to be over, at the same time that I'm scared of the bit right at the end and worried about how I'll cope once the pregnancy is over and the parenting begins. I'll distract myself from the ever approaching nearer and nearer future by whining about the maneouvering involved in just picking something up off the ground or trying to put socks on. Pesky socks, how dare they be so far away? Worst of all is when I have to pick socks up off the floor to put on my feet. Argh to the Max and Beyond!
There will be kicks to the internal organs that double me over with pain, there will be nights when I wake up covered in sweat for no apparent reason, and other evenings where despite my exhaustion I can't get back to sleep after a midnight run for the toilet or the Gaviscon or some food or a drink. There will be blood on the toothbrush and pins and needles for no apparent reason, followed by worry that they are harbingers of some greater problem that the immediate discomfort they bring.
And at the very very end, when it's over in fact, there will be a child for me and my whanau. A new person we can love and nurture and make part of our lives. I keep my eye on the prize and I know that it will probably be awesome.