“Every Pregnancy Is Different” (something people tell you that is horrifyingly true)

I started this draft way back in March and didn’t manage to finish it largely due to chaos during my quiet time. I looked at it again after finally giving birth in May and decided to try to get it done and post it to commemorate all the disgusting and mortifying details of my pregnancies so that my boys can read it someday and learn to be extra nice to the possible mothers/birth mothers/surrogates of my future grandchildren.

This was me in March:

I’m trying to get this all out so I can stop grossing out all the well-meaning people who politely ask how I’m feeling. Though I usually manage to sheepishly answer “I’m ok, thanks,” any lull in conversation inevitably ends in me awkwardly detailing all of the body parts I’ve been scratching at 3:30 each morning.

So, I’ll try to get this off my chest.

I’m 25 weeks with my second and fuck yeah, this pregnancy is different.

With my first pregnancy I felt mildly hung over for the first trimester, but experienced no major nausea or vomiting. I had very painful heartburn because I had been taking 3 kinds of reflux medications and I stopped them all cold turkey, but that was it for the first trimester.

The second trimester I had a lot of sciatic pain and needed to wear a support belt if I was going to be walking even a short distance.

The entire third trimester I had pelvic bone pain and had to sleep with a full body pillow for comfort.

And leg cramps. I think they started around 5 months, when I woke up screaming from a charley horse so bad I was limping for days. I spent a lot of time trying to stretch out my calves before bed.

My bladder was in a constant state of engorged confusion for almost the entire pregnancy. From about 14 weeks on, I would pee, then get up and pull my pants up, then sit right back down because I had to pee again. Every time we left the house, my husband would wait by the door (so stoic, so resigned), while I peed, put lipstick on, peed again, put my shoes on, peed, put a pack of gum in my purse, and peed again. Every time we drove anywhere I would suddenly feel like I needed to pee right away and then the baby would shift position and the feeling would pass. And of course I had to go about every 2 hours in the middle of the night, which was extra special toward the end because I had to unwrap the body pillow from around myself, climb out of bed, do the “am I done? wait a minute, not quite” routine, then climb back into bed and get the body pillow repositioned properly. After giving birth for the first time I was in excruciating pain from an unmedicated episiotomy and stitches (I had to scream at them to finally give me a local, 30 minutes into the 45 minutes of stitches), but the feeling of fully emptying my bladder for the first time in nearly 9 months was glorious.

Despite all this discomfort during my first pregnancy, my skin, (other than some itching somewhere toward the end of the second trimester), was fabulous. Glowing and clear, with zero pimples or blemishes.

For pregnancy #2, I had pimples and red blotches on my face the entire time. Red flaky patches on my face that responded to nothing; not argan oil, not coconut oil, not anything I tried or bought at Sephora. And so much itching. At one point in February I bought 5 different types of anti-itch lotions and ointments to try. (The cashier at CVS looked like she was about to abandon her post for a full-blown Silkwood Shower after I left.) I woke up at 3am and 5am each morning not just to pee but to scratch myself and apply powders and ointments.

My only major first trimester symptoms for pregnancy#2 were total exhaustion (which continued), and looking undeniably pregnant at an absurdly early date. I was wearing maternity pants at 4 weeks along.

At week 13 the fatigue lifted and I felt like I was 50 lbs lighter, not pregnant,
20 years younger and almost athletic. This feeling lasted exactly 7 days.

Then the constant fatigue returned, along with a new treat: occasional odor-triggered morning sickness for about 6-8 weeks.

Me: I’ve been nauseated in the mornings but it only started at 14 weeks.
My doctor: Really? That should be done by now. That’s unusual.
Me: Yes, that’s why I’m telling you.

And I had 2 big upper-respiratory infections that caused such persistent coughing that I ended up on antibiotics. But with my first pregnancy I barely ever took a Tylenol.

So there you go, boys! I love you!

(It occurs to me that this would all make a great Venn diagram. That would be a really fun math project for my sons to do when they are older. Rainy day project!)



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