With all the stress of the holidays, I figured we could all use a little laugh. So here’s how an average day for me goes, as told through amusing GIFs.
This is going to be a fun one! Not only are we going to discuss the lies you’re told about being pregnant, but also about the lies dealing with illness. Even before I was pregnant, there were all these misconceptions out there about how a “sickie” is supposed to feel and act and live. Now that I’m with child, it seems like I’m fighting two different yet equally prejudicial battles. So here are some things I’ve been told that have turned out to be completely false.
5. You Can (and should) Have it All
Now I’m just as much a feminist as the next gal. I even hyphenated my last name when I got married! If that’s not proof, then I don’t know what is 😉 But seriously, there’s this unreal standard that women are held to in society. You’re told you should be able to juggle your personal and professional life – all while staying in perfect shape, of course!
There is absolutely no shame in picking your own path, even if you feel like you’re admitting defeat. The moment I realized it was okay for me to take time off work to focus on the health of me and my baby, I felt amazingly relieved. Don’t fall prey to the lie that you are supposed to be some kind of “Wonder Woman.” You’re growing a human inside of you! How much more Wondrous can you get?
4. It’s Just in Your Head
Pre-pregnancy, when I was searching desperately for a diagnosis, I was told by many doctors and specialists that the joint pain, fatigue, and subsequent anxiety was all in my head. I had never felt more confused, full of self-doubt, and even angry than when I started to let those doctors get to me.
Thank God (after quite a few years) I found a doctor that listened to and believed me and was able to give me my diagnosis. Then, as a high-risk pregnant woman, I’ve also been judged by non-high-risk women telling me that I was just exaggerating my symptoms. The insulting part was when they would tell me their “real symptoms” as if a) mine weren’t real and b) that their symptoms were worse than mine. Honey, I would take your puffy ankles over my hip dislocation any day! So just tune out the negative people in your life and don’t back down with your health professionals if/when they don’t take you seriously.
3. It’s All About the Birth
This was a new one for me. Out of all the weird comments I was expecting to get, this was kind of a curveball. While it’s true that “It’ll all be worth it in the end,” some people take it to the nth degree. Some people made it sound as if the entire process of pregnancy is only about the end result. So anytime I would be talking about a speedbump we had encountered in the pregnancy, the validity of my concern was immediately thrown out the window, because I should just “focus on the main event.”
But the entire nine months are important in their own right. For instance, my husband and I have never felt closer than through these months of pregnancy. I’ve gained a new perspective on motherhood from many late-night phone calls and talks with my mother and mother-in-law. I’ve made deeper layers of friendship with the women in my life that are moms or moms-to-be. I’ve even formed bonds with people on internet support groups where we can all rally around each other and our shared health issues. There are so many wonderful experiences I’ve gained through this pregnancy, that I would hate to think what would have happened if I only let myself focus on the end result of birth. Live in the now and appreciate the process, warts and all!
2. Just Push Through It
Whether you are pregnant, have a chronic illness, or a combination of the two, you have had days where the word “pain” is an understatement. For the average person, pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong, but often we are told that as high-risk pregnant women, the pain is just something we will need to learn to live with. While there are some things that I’ve gotten used to with my Lupus or EDS, I know from experience that not all pain is the same. Listen to your body.
There is also this misconception that asking for help = weakness. Admitting that your body can no longer do the things it used to isn’t being weak, it’s being honest! To “push through it” and “suck it up” is not only delusional, but potentially harmful to both you and your baby. So, no, don’t stress out over every little twinge of pain, but also don’t ignore the signals your body sends you.
1. You’ll Get That “Pregnancy Glow”
Maybe this one is just me, but one of the things I always heard about was how women will get this “glow” during pregnancy. I imagined that when my pregnancy was in full swing, I’d have this cute little bump, radiant skin, and fabulous hair. Well with a little help from MasterCuts, my hair is pretty fabulous, but besides that I don’t feel like I’m glow-y.
And I’ve realized that’s okay. At this point, I’m actually just stoked that my baby is staying healthy and is growing how he’s supposed to be. Us high-risk ladies find happiness in the little things “normal” moms-to-be take for granted. While some of my pregnant friends were talking about how their skin cleared up and their hair and nails seemed stronger than ever, I was over here being like “Hey I had a brief moment where my joints didn’t feel like they were on fire! It’s gonna be a good day!” It’s also good to remember that most celebs (and even some of our friends) just happen to have the extra time, money, and stylists to make it possible to look like an actual human in the morning. For me, not so much.
So in the end, no two pregnancies are exactly alike and we shouldn’t expect ours to hold up to the magical standards portrayed in movies and on magazine covers. Your pregnancy is your pregnancy. What is normal for you won’t necessarily be normal for everyone else. This is basically how life goes, by the way. The quicker we can acknowledge and accept that we make our own definition of what’s beautiful, the better. Now I love the bags under my eyes, sallow skin, and swollen joints. You know why? Because it means the little life inside of me is still alive and kicking and my body is so busy keeping him healthy, it doesn’t have time to worry about looking “fresh.” Flip the script and embrace it!
Yes, you are growing a little human inside of your body, so you have every right to be grumpy. Yes, most people are jerks and life can be really hard sometimes. But you know who is there to listen to you grumble about all your aches and pains and mean friends and rude strangers? Your partner. Whether you have a husband, boyfriend, life partner, whatever, let’s take a minute to stop and appreciate all they do. Because if your partner is anything like my husband, he has put up with A LOT!
1. Trying to Understand What the Flip You’re Talking About
Attempting to read our mood swings is already hard enough for our partners. Now they have to decode our hormone-induced rants? Sometimes when we’re venting about girl problems or health issues, we forget that other people have absolutely no clue what we’re saying.
Me: “My RLP is really intense today. I can’t tell if it’s my Ehlers-Danlos acting up, too. Maybe I should do some hypermobility stretches to try to relax my pelvic floor. Ugh, this Lupus fog isn’t helping either!”
Poor Justin. I could tell from the look on his face that he wanted to help but had no clue how to do so. So remember, your partner is listening, but keeping your communication clear is helpful to everyone. If you want a massage, just ask for a massage. Your partner will appreciate your directness, trust me. But in turn, verbally show your appreciation for their effort.
2. Being Grossed Out On the Regular
Morning sickness, hemorrhoids, hairy legs, and sitting in on awkward OBGYN visits are all par for the course for your partner now. My poor guy has had to see some really weird stuff but he has never once made me feel like the repulsive monster I am. He has seen me at my lowest:
And as much as he’s been tempted to, he has never had this reaction to my grossness:
God bless him, he has seen things no man should ever have to see. Yet through it all he has always managed to offer a kind smile, stroke my greasy hair, and even give me a hug (while holding his breath, of course).
3. Feeling Helpless
This was one thing I never even thought about until my husband expressed it. As frustrating as it is to be a high-risk pregnant woman dealing with all your struggles, imagine what it’s like to be on the outside. Your partner has to watch the person they love most in life go through unimaginably painful ordeals, and there’s not a darn thing they can do about it. My heart broke a little the day he told me how helpless he felt and that he would give anything to be able to take away my hurt.
Whether your partner has said it out loud or not, I guarantee you they have felt helpless and vulnerable at some point during your pregnancy. Stop and realize how amazing it is to have someone love you that much and be thankful that same person is going to be the one who is by your side to help you nurture this new life.
4. Suppressing EVERYTHING
Let’s have a moment of honesty here, ladies. We complain. About everything. A lot. Hey, we deserve to, don’t get me wrong. But your partner is often left mute in the wake of your rage. My husband works two jobs, both of which are physical and he rarely gets a day off. But will you hear him complain about how his legs hurt or how frustrated he is? NOPE.
Although I would like to think I wouldn’t go all Oxygen “Snapped” on him if he were to complain to me, I can understand why he stays silent. And whenever I ask him if he’s hurting, he usually just says, “I’m fine,” or shrugs it off.
We should remember to hug our partners because they’re hurting sometimes, too. Sure, they don’t have to worry about pushing a baby out of their delicate downstairs business, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t frustrated or in pain as well. So pick up a card, or hug him, or do a little something to let him know that his emotions are valid and you are there for him, too.
5. OMG YOU’RE HAVING A FREAKING BABY!!!
Though you would think this goes without saying, sometimes it actually takes a while for this realization to dawn on your partner. Every person (even you) has that “HOLY GUACAMOLE!” moment where it hits you that everything is about to change.
Even if your pregnancy was planned, it is completely normal to have a freak out moment. Where you get off easy, though, is society thinks it’s more acceptable for women to be emotional. If your partner is a man, he has it a little tougher. Whether it’s from peer pressure or decades of society making him feel this way, your guy is having trouble reconciling his realization with the emotions he’s feeling on the inside.
Let him know that it’s okay for him to feel nervous. The worst thing you can do is buy a one-way ticket to “Denial Land.” If you try masking your concerns and he’s busy stifling his emotions, you’re just asking for things to blow up in your face.
Even if your partner isn’t big on talking and feelings, make the effort to have a little sit-down and lay your worries out on the table. Chances are you even have similar fears. The sooner you both acknowledge that this is indeed a big deal and it probably won’t be easy, the sooner you can start moving ahead together. Don’t fall prey to the trap of each person having to bear his/her own burdens. And when in doubt, breathe into a paper bag for a minute and look at this adorable bunny eating a flower:
In conclusion, remember that your partner has feelings, too, and that this is scary for both of you. Verbally and physically demonstrate your appreciation for all the things they have to put up with during this trying pregnancy. Kindness matters. And hey! Who knows? Maybe that sweet note you left him will get you a back massage tonight! But seriously folks, be nice to your partner. They’ve had to hold your hair while you’ve puked.
With all the raging hormones flowing through your body, your patience may be wearing thinner and thinner as the days go on. As for me, I started out trying to be really polite and friendly all the time. You know, never wanting to be a bother, or some nonsense like that. But as time went by, I had less and less tolerance for the weird and awkward things people would say to me – or worse – behind my back. Don’t you just loooove frenemies? So I decided I wasn’t going to kill them with kindness, I was going to kill them by being fabulously classy!
“Are you sure you should go through with this pregnancy?”
First off, rude! Let me point out, this was an actual question I was asked within the first few days I made my pregnancy public. Sure, most anyone who knew me was aware of my health issues, and I can see how that may raise questions about my pregnancy. But for the love of God, don’t ask a woman – especially not a high-risk one – if they are going to keep the baby!!!
What I Wanted to Do:
Boy did I want to do this, but I didn’t. Instead I chose to be freaking classy! I’m talking Don Draper level classy!
The Classy Thing to Do Instead:
So when someone asks you if you’re going to keep your child, say, “It means a lot to me that you’re so concerned, but choices regarding my baby’s life is a private and delicate matter and I would appreciate it if you treated it as such.”
There’s one thing that is crucial to this working. As soon as you say your devastatingly classy line, RUN AWAY! Don’t give them time to utter an ignorant response.
“You think that’s bad? Let me tell you MY way worse story…”
There’s always gotta be a one-upper. Whether this is a friend, coworker, frenemy, or an eavesdropping stranger, the dreaded one-upper will find a way to take any story, any experience and attempt to make you feel insignificant. Which is exactly how you want to feel when your emotions are all over the place and you’re worried about the health of you and your baby, right?
What I Wanted to Do:
Aside from cutting the drama queen off, you have only two choices. One, you let the person finish and say something snarky like, “Okay, do you feel cool now?” But that’s probably best left as a scenario you play out in your head to amuse yourself. Second choice, the classy one.
The Classy Thing to Do Instead:
Let the one-upper finish, and respond with, “I’m sorry for your experience, but I’m going through a very trying time right now and would appreciate the same sensitivity and empathy you expect from people when you tell your stories.” And then, as always, make a quick exit.
“Maybe you’re doing something wrong.”
“And maybe you’re a giant doodie head!” But seriously, it’s like your pain and struggles can’t just be the results of an illness, you must be somehow responsible for jeopardizing your baby’s health. For every one-upper out there with an awful story, there is a Disney princess who just can’t understand why you’re having a hard pregnancy because hers was just so darned magical.
What I Wanted to Do:
When hearing about their blissful, worry-free experiences while I was in the midst of my own personal hell, I just wanted to shout, “GOOD FOR YOU!” and stomp out all sassy-like.
The Classy Thing to Do Instead:
Be honest. You may not want to be so candid, but it’s your best bet. Whenever the princess starts going on about how when her water broke, rainbows and fairy dust spilled out instead, just smile and say, “I’m so happy that you had an unusually easy pregnancy, but it’s really hard for me to hear about it when my pregnancy is so uncertain and filled with problems.” Sometimes laying it all out on the table like that will shut up any rude people. And then peace out as usual.
“If you think the pregnancy is hard, wait ’til the baby comes!”
Gee, thanks. As if I wasn’t already nervous enough, now I have to worry about how I’ll be able to take care of my baby. I started thinking, “What if my illnesses are too much to handle? Oh God, what about the actual delivery? What if something goes wrong? What if the baby is sick?”
What I Wanted to Do:
How exactly did that person want me to respond anyways? “What? You mean I have to feed and change him everyday?! Whoa whoa whoa, this changes things!”
The Classy Thing to Do Instead:
“Wow! You really know a lot about post-pregnancy life and babies. So you won’t mind helping me out if I need it then?” BOOM! Either they’ll laugh it off and run away or they’ll awkwardly agree to helping you. It’s a win-win!
“You Need to Gain More Weight! You’re So Small!”
I know most women get flack for the opposite, getting judged for putting on too much weight. But because of my Lupus flaring up and making it difficult for my body to process fats, oils, and fiber, my morning sickness mutated into a debilitating battle with food. Before I was pregnant, I weighed 106 lbs (which is healthy for my 5’2 frame). At the lowest point in my pregnancy I only weighed 90 lbs. For someone of my petite stature, the weight loss took a more drastic toll on my body and it made me extremely concerned for my baby. So when this woman thought she was being funny, cute or paying me a compliment, she was actually reinforcing my fear that my inability to maintain or gain weight was going to be bad for the baby.
What I Wanted to Do:
Sometimes you just need to have a big ol’ ugly cry fest full of pillow punching and dying whale sounds. But sometimes you have to just rise above it and channel your inner diva.
The Classy Thing to Do Instead:
Most of the time, the people that make comments about your appearance are not going to be friends or family. So if it’s a stranger or acquaintance, you have a little more leeway with your sass level here. How I chose to respond was, “Thank you! Baby is doing fine for now, but I guess I better start eating more Krispy Kremes, huh? And can you believe I don’t even have stretch marks?” Just try not to waste your time on people who fixate on the superficial things. You’ve got more important things to think about, and their snark comments aren’t one of them! Focus on you, booboo!
So those were the top five rude/awkward/weird things I have actually had people say to me during my pregnancy. I try to remember that most of the time these people are just incredibly oblivious to the fact that what they are saying is awful. I also try to remind myself that these people think that what they are saying is well-intentioned. Either way, you’re the one who is in charge of how you let people make you feel. And, honey, you are you too freaking classy to let these haters bring you down!!!
Newsflash: Despite what the airbrushed magazine covers would lead you to believe, pregnancy is not always cute. In fact, it can be pretty gross. Remember when you were a preteen and you were 99% sure that the changes happening to your body were abnormal and you were the only girl having these problems? Well, pregnancy is a lot like going through a second puberty. Don’t worry! The weird stuff going on with your body is probably not that weird at all. I just wish someone had warned me about the unpretty side of pregnancy! So now I’m warning you.
10. Hair (not the musical)
This is the dawning of the age of… awkward hair growth. While prenatal vitamins make the hairs on your head super lush, your hormones think it’s really funny to make hair sprout up in non-hair areas. I’m having a boy, so some people have attributed the hair growth to the testosterone thing, but I have no idea how scientifically sound that is. But I did have a white girl panic moment at the OBGYN one day, and she assured me (while holding back an eyeroll, I’m sure) that getting hair on your tummy, face, and beyond is all perfectly normal and will go away post-pregnancy. I am holding her to that or suing for enough money to cover my Nair budget.
9. Can’t Blame the Dog
At times I swore I could single-handedly end our war with the Middle East with the insane amount of gas my body could produce. I’m clearly not the most bashful person in the world, but even I was embarrassed by my grumbly tummy. During one particularly uncomfortable visit, I snarted in my obgyn’s face. In case you didn’t know, snarting is when you sneeze and fart at the same time. Yup. Again, it’s all totally normal according to the doctors, but that doesn’t really make it any less awkward. Thankfully Beano and Tums can make things a little more tolerable. You also may want to avoid broccoli, chili, and eggs in the meantime. Just saying. I also apologize for having the sense of humor of an eight year old boy. (Farts are kind of funny, admit it.)
8. Pizza Face
Like I said before, pregnancy can really feel like you’re going through puberty a second time. There I was, like a fool, waiting for that famed “pregnancy glow” to come. What I got instead was acne that made me super self-conscious. If my gas couldn’t solve the crisis in the Middle East, the oil spill that was my face certainly could. Switching from heavy foundation to a tinted SPF helped, though. Try staying away from harsh scrubs and switching to a gentle toner safe for everyday use, too. If all else fails, just keep telling yourself that this is temporary and you’re going to get a cool, little human out of the deal. So putting up with teen-style acne seems like a pretty fair trade off if you ask me.
7. Got a Logjam in the River
No one warned me about the nightmare that is constipation. The only way I can think to describe how awful it is, is for you to imagine trying to push a sideways pine cone through the eye of a needle. Not. Gonna. Happen. My OBGYN jokingly said it was a preview for giving birth, but needless to say I did not find that very funny. Prune juice and fibrous foods are going to be your new bffs. Don’t overdo it, though! Let’s just say one day I was desperate, and one Dulcolax and three glasses of prune juice later, I had to frantically (but politely) scooch past eight people and run out of a movie theater. Do you know how hard it is to clench and crabwalk past a row of strangers in the movies not once but twice? Answer: pretty hard.
6. Water, Water Everywhere
In addition to buying new bras and pants, you may want to invest in some pillowcase covers. Why? Because you’ll be drooling more than Homer Simpson around a dozen fresh Krispy Kreme donuts. This may not happen to everyone, but it definitely did (and does) happen to me. The first time I woke up, shocked by the yucky puddle of embarrassment on my pillow, I was unnerved to say the least. Apparently your pregnancy hormones are less like some sweet, fairy godmothers turning your body into a magically, fertile goddess and are more like the cast of “Jackass” trying to find new and horrifying ways to embarrass you. Just be thankful the extra drool only comes during sleep and not randomly during the day.
5. SO MANY EMOTIONS!!!
I was never a particularly girly-girl. I didn’t cry when I watched romantic comedies. In fact, I rarely watched rom-coms at all. But when I became pregnant, all of a sudden those Sarah McLachlan hurt puppy commercials seemed really, really sad. This isn’t really a gross side-effect of pregnancy, but it was definitely a strange one for me since I rarely ever cried pre-pregnancy. Just be prepared to be filled with strange, new emotions or more intense versions of the emotions with which you are already familiar. Do yourself a favor, though. Don’t Google videos of dogs that are happy their owners are soldiers returning from war. That’s just asking for it.
4. Bleeding Bloody Blood
While you’ve already gotten somewhat accustomed to stuff coming out of your various body holes, you may not have expected nosebleeds and bloody gums. Naturally, after watching a marathon of “Untold Stories of the ER,” I assumed that my new Carrie-like problem was a definite sign of some type of hemorrhage. Either that or my brain exploding. Both seemed plausible at two in the morning. Anyways, it turns out those pesky hormones are responsible for increased blood flow, more sensitive tissue, and inflamed blood vessels. Combine all those factors and there you have a perfectly normal reason for your benign yet inconvenient nosebleeds and bloody gums. If it gets really bad, though, do consult a physician… and don’t watch medical shows at two in the morning.
3. Hair (again)
Though you won’t have this issue until further along into your pregnancy, your protruding tummy will eventually make shaving difficult if not impossible. Unless you are a tenth level Yogi (that’s a thing, right?), then you may be out of luck in the flexibility department. I’ve already had to relinquish being able to wear some of my cute clothes and my hormones had me feeling like Jabba the Hut. So I was not about to add Sasquatch to the list. While it’s still totally possible to be able to shave and maintain your grooming routine, you may want to cough up the dough and treat yourself to a professional waxing service. I prefer to save myself the embarrassment of losing my balance in the shower trying to shave my legs.
2. Water (again)
You probably already knew that pregnant women have a reputation for needing to go to the bathroom every 2.7 seconds. And although it is true that your bladder has been squished to the size of a thimble, it’s not just the frequency of urination that is the problem. Bladder control becomes a very real, very gross reality in pregnancy. Because you have a freakin’ human taking up room inside of you, it is totally understandable that things are going to change. Pressure on your uterus, spasms due to stretched muscles, and stress put on your pelvic floor all contribute to the normal occurrence of incontinence during pregnancy. Incontinence is a nice, doctor-y way of saying sometimes when you’re laughing you whiz, AKA lizzing.
1. Birth Cannon Blaster
I’m no good with euphemisms and I find the clinical terms for lady parts to be off-putting. So we’re just gonna stick with what we’ve got. Basically, at some point in your pregnancy, you’re going to feel your little miracle kick! This can be totally awesome and a really beautiful moment to share with your partner. But then comes the “downstairs” kicking. It is such an unusually sharp and crazy pain, that you may even jump a little when you initially feel it. I totally thought that I was going into labor the first time I felt the “fireworks.” Not that you can ever really prepare for an internal crotch kick, but if I had at least known this was a possibility, I might have been able to maintain a better demeanor whilst sitting in an Applebee’s with friends. I yelped and jumped for no reason, but thankfully I have understanding girlfriends who weren’t put off by my hoo-ha issues. Turns out this, too, is normal and nothing to be worried about. Sure is an adventure, though!
And there you have it. The ten weird, gross, and awkward things that happened to me and my body that I wished someone had told me about. Fortunately most of the crazy things that occur during your pregnancy are totally normal, but as always, listen to your body. If something seems off, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional. Otherwise, try to keep a good sense of humor about the unusual changes happening to your body. And if you laugh about it, just try not to pee yourself 😉