Some couples plan for a baby and even try to conceive. My husband and I were not one of those couples. Not that there’s anything wrong with those people, I just can’t relate. A very good friend of mine went through her first pregnancy with me and she and her husband had planned for it. She was able to meet each aspect of the changes to her body with a certain amount nonchalance that I just could never muster.
The weekend just before we found out I was pregnant I was in Rocky Point, Mexico with my girlfriends doing what any red-blooded American would be doing on the warm beaches of Mexico—drinking Cervezas! I’d been having pre-menstrual symptoms so I just knew I was going to start my period any minute. The long weekend passed without much thought about it. However, on the five hour drive home I started to think. I had been out of town for most of the last couple of months for my job. In fact, that last month we’d only “done it” one time. So there’s just no way, right? I decided to buy a pregnancy test just to reassure myself and my period would follow shortly thereafter.
The joke’s on me, of course. That test could not have been more positive and I could not have been more shocked. Though it would pass soon enough, my husband and I found ourselves scared to death and remorseful for our carelessness, to put it mildly. We were three weeks away from our first wedding anniversary. Almost immediately, I remembered my friends and family asking when we were going to have kids. I told them we were going wait and be married for a while first. That had been the plan, to enjoy each other for a few years before we started a family. Funny how life (and new life) has its own plan, huh?
So there I was, knocked up, scared, and totally unprepared for what lay ahead of me. The first order of business was to completely change my lifestyle. Sure! That’ll be easy! A nurse practitioner had unfortunately told me that quitting smoking wasn’t essential until the end of the first trimester. This was unfortunate because I gave myself more time before attempting to quit the first time. And since I ended up quitting four different times during my pregnancy the baby got a good bit more smoke than I would like to admit. But that was just the hardest vice to give up. There was also my beloved diet Cokes, alcohol, coffee, and just for good measure, my favorite—sushi! I was lucky to avoid the morning sickness. Those first few months I was exhausted, but not sick. I was afflicted with the pregnancy pees, it seemed, from the moment I’d found out I was pregnant. Before I’d shared the news with my co-workers I was afraid they would know from my constant bathroom breaks and enormous breasts (at the very least they’d think I’d gotten a boob job, seriously—huge, not to mention painful!)
We celebrated our first wedding anniversary as planned with a fancy hotel room complete with champagne delivery that I stared at longingly but avoided (for the most part). I was incredibly disappointed that I was pregnant for our first anniversary. Isn’t that the only one that really counts until you get to like the twenty-fifth? And I was so run-down that I was just no fun. I kept picturing how different the evening would have been if I hadn’t been pregnant and I kept crying about it. What a wonderful way to celebrate our first year as a married couple, me bawling on the bed while my husband attempts to console me even though he has absolutely no idea what the heck is wrong with me in the first place. Good times.
The thing about an unplanned first pregnancy is that for a while all you can focus on is when it will be over. I remember lying on the couch just day dreaming about a time when I would feel better and my body would be my own again. And the baby that would be around at that time was secondary, a minor addition that I would deal with, somehow. A fantasy, indeed.
I replaced my pre-pregnancy vices with a downright obsessive need to read. I bought just about every book ever written about pregnancy and poured over them. I knew what to expect while I was expecting, the guidance from the girlfriends, and Jenny McCarthy finally got me to have a sense of humor about what was happening to my body (thank God!). Her poop story had me laughing out loud, and knowing that things could be a lot worse. And that was exactly what I needed, to lighten up. It was going to be a long nine to ten months but with a “just get it over with” attitude it would be a lot longer. I still didn’t quite buy into that “most beautiful experience of my life” stuff. Sorry to those women who think that way, but I think it’s a load of crap! There really isn’t anything beautiful about pregnancy. Some things are cute, exciting, interesting, amazing, thrilling even, but beautiful just doesn’t really factor in.
To work or not to work? That is the question that every pregnant woman asks herself at some point. For a lot of women it’s a minor blip of a question, with the answer already decided for them one way or the other by a myriad of outside factors. And really that was true for me. I couldn’t walk out on my company after everything they’d done for me. And we simply couldn’t afford for me to stay home. We needed the benefits and the money. So the talk with my boss went something like this: “I am totally committed to fulfilling my responsibility to the company—before, during, and after, sir.” “Good.” And that was that. Though in truth, as my pregnancy wore on, my commitment began to fade a bit. It’s just real hard to work up enthusiasm for customer issues when you feel like a house and look like one too.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3