It’s disconcerting no one seems to acknowledge all the weird, bizarre, absurd, disgusting or hilarious things that happen while you’re pregnant — instead you are calmly reassured that it’s all perfectly normal. It’s like there’s some unofficial conspiracy or code of silence to let you know only what you need to know at that moment.
Remember back to your shocked “I can’t believe I’m really pregnant” first trimester? You haven’t forgotten the delight already? There was the head-in-the-toilet-bowl ‘morning’ sickness nausea, caused by your body adjusting to the increased levels of progesterone and oestrogens, which you learnt is not gone by lunchtime and leaves you feeling thoroughly wretched all day; there were those stretched blouse buttons covering up tender and painful busty breasts that became your partner’s favourite new toys (ow!); the constant peeing interruptions to your precious last months of babyless slumber; a new all- time record level of total exhaustion (thanks to the sedative effects of your high progesterone levels). Oh, and we can’t forget the nauseous smells; the weird metallic taste in your mouth; and, of course, the insane feeling of losing your mind (well, at least some vague control of your now erratically unpredictable emotions).
You have several months of sacrificing the mouth-watering tastes of many of your most favourite delicacies, only to have them replaced with cravings for exotically bizarre culinary combinations. Then you start booking emergency visits to the dentist for temporary fillings (and to double-check those spongy bleeding gums, oh, gingivitis). Then there are the contact lenses that are no longer comfortable (as pregnancy can change cornea shape); the sinusitis nasal congestion stuffiness and nose-bleeds; constant backache and leg cramps; and rapidly growing but brittle fingernails. But even more intensely weird are the frighteningly vivid dreams, or the insomnia.
Then, the crowning glory of them all . . . pre-eclampsia toxaemia (high blood pressure, and protein in your urine from your kidneys stressing with their filtration rate increase). This is when you are promoted in your pregnancy to the water-retention, “upholstered body” oedema stage and you are alarmed to find your swollen fingers beginning to grow over your rings, and the tops of your puffy feet and swollen ankles spill out over the tops of your shoes like messy cappuccinos (oh, and yes your nose is looking bigger), and maybe you didn’t realise, but your vulva is swelling too.
Once the pelvic ligaments soften and relax, you may be perturbed to need to buy yourself a belly-belt (elasticised maternity corset) to support your pelvic bones. Then in the last weeks with the increasing bulkiness of your abdomen, your centre of gravity totally changes so that with a jumping-bean inside your abdomen and added backache, walking becomes dangerously precarious — especially disembarking escalators when you can no longer see your own feet.
“How are you feeling in your pregnancy, dear?”
“Oh, all perfectly normal.”
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