This past weekend I spent some time with friends, one of whom has a 5-month-old baby named Meghan, and the other doesn’t have children named Jane. Jane asked Meghan and I what the most surprising things about being pregnant are, beyond the ones you hear about all the time such as random unsolicited advice, the morning sickness, the cravings, the missing wine (was that one just me?), etc.
For the next 12 hours or so Meghan and I would randomly think of something else to add to the list, despite Jane never having asked for such an extensive list, nor having asked for the conversation to periodically continue for such a ridiculous time period. Jane, you’re the nicest for not punching us in the face after the first fifteen minutes. However, I thought I would divulge the list Meghan and I came up with, in a more condensed version. So here it is, the four most surprising things about pregnancy beyond the “normal” symptoms you hear about.
1. Leg cramps
I had never heard of these before until one night my husband woke up to me grasping at my calves and screaming. Apparently these are super common, no matter what you do, how much water you drink, how much you walk every day, how much or how little you do anything. (I asked my doctor about this, by the way, on what I could do to have this never happen ever again, and her response was essentially that they happen to some people no matter what. So have fun with that.)
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, essentially what happens is that a wild animal sneaks into your bed in the middle of the night, crawls into your calf, and then proceeds to ferociously eat your calf muscle. These cramps happen while you’re sleeping and are indescribably agonizing. During the first one, I found myself screaming and had magically turned myself 180 degrees around while contorting trying to get these cramps under control. This ended up being convenient as I now had my feet near my pillow and my husband could slightly touch – not massage, mind you, as that would have been torment – my calves until the cramps calmed down.
Personally, the more I walk during the day and the more I stay hydrated, they seem to stay abated. Meghan said that when she would get them, if she could get her foot down on the floor the cramps could stretch out. For some reason this is something that a lot of pregnant women experience but goes unknown on the list of “crap you have to deal with to grow a human.”
2. First trimester exhaustion
I think maybe sometimes this was mentioned in passing to me before getting pregnant but truly, I think if I could sit someone down wanting to get pregnant and shake one piece of information into them, it would be this:
You will be more exhausted than you have ever thought possible in the first trimester.
Stop thinking, “awww, adorable! I’ll be a little more tired than usual but I bet it’s actually like getting less sleep than normal.” NO. You will be so tired that you will lie down on the couch look at the remote on the coffee table and then sob because you would have to sit up to change the channel. You will be so tired that you could literally fall asleep on a conference call and then have to act like you were absolutely paying attention the entire time. (All of these are purely hypothetical. Ahem.) When I say tired, I mean energy level of a coma patient.
What is extra hard is that you are more than likely desperately trying to hide the fact that you’re pregnant from most people until you hit the second trimester when the “risks” are lowered of telling people and having something still happen, so you can’t even tell people why you suddenly can’t even manage to lift a piece of pizza to your facehole.
3. Deteriorating eyesight
Supposedly this might not be as common or noticeable if you already wear glasses, but a real-life side effect of pregnancy is that supposedly the extra fluids in your body can temporarily change the shape of your cornea, which results in blurry and/or blurrier vision.
As someone who has never worn glasses or contacts, this was especially disconcerting until I realized that this was yet another human-growing side effect. However, the cure is simple enough: expel said human from your innards. Can dosville, babydoll!
4. The length of time of actually needing maternity clothes
This one may have actually been my own personal inability to grip with reality, but before getting pregnant I thought that, “Oh, well, pregnancy is 9 months,” (no, please don’t tell me pregnancy is actually 10 months, it’s not.), “I’ll get to wear adorable new maternity clothes for 9 months! Awesome! NEW WARDROBE! TOTES ADORBS!”
Wrong wrong wrong.
First, when you get the blue lines/smiley face/digital readout of being pregnant you’re already a month pregnant. One down, 8 to go. Okay, well then, 8 months is still pretty good, right? Wrong again. What I didn’t realize was that you actually go through another, oh, 3 months or so of just looking generally bloaty/puffy where actual maternity clothes don’t fit you right, but neither do your normal clothes.
During this period you actually start looking online and realizing the time you’ll actually wear these outrageously expensive new frocks is ridiculously short and you don’t actually want to spend money on a whole new wardrobe you’ll need for 6 months or so total. It’s vicious. Sure, J.Crew makes maternity clothes now, but spending $150 on a pair of jeans that your widening hips might need a bigger size of later on? It’s a little much, in my opinion.
However, the one caveat to this comes when, literally overnight, you find yourself needing maternity clothes for really real and suddenly everything that may, yes, technically zip up, looks completely ill-proportioned and horrible. Seriously folks. Overnight. One day I looked
fine acceptable mediocre/passable in non-maternity clothes and the next day I didn’t.
So while the period of needing maternity clothes is short, once you need them, you really need them. If you shop online sample sale sites like Zulily (which tends to have the largest collection of “nice” maternity clothes at fairly good discounts), remember that Zuliily can take up to 6 weeks to get your stuff. Often it’s too late or your body just re-shaped itself again and you might need a different size. Trust me, it’s a bummer if that happens. (“Bummer”, of course, being the operative word, as it was inevitably my ass that has made my clothes fit in all sorts of horrible ways.)
So there you have it. Those four things would be the items that I literally had no idea about when I got pregnant that just smacked us straight up surprised.
Do you have any others?