Pregnancy: When everyone is enjoying it more than you

I did not enjoy being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy very much having a baby. I love the end result, but I did not like the process of growing him. In fact, I am still very traumatized by it.

After my son was born, my husband asked me if I had to do either the pregnancy or the labour over again, which would I choose? For me, it is the labour, no question.

If you were someone who felt mildly nauseous one day and slightly tired during your joyful pregnancy, you will probably not understand.

Oh, it was fine for the first couple of weeks, and then when I was 6 weeks pregnant I began to get seriously nauseous. At 7 weeks, I was unable to keep down any food or drinks. At 8 weeks I was on IV fluids. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme nausea. If you like, you can read more about it here.  You may have heard this term in connection with Princess Kate, who suffered from this during her pregnancies as well. This is helpful when trying to explain the condition to others.

For me, pregnancy was a very, very hungry time. I was unable to eat for days and I couldn’t stand any smells related to food or cooking. I couldn’t go into my kitchen or into a restaurant or to the grocery store. I couldn’t watch TV commercials about food.

I took 8 anti-nausea pills a day. I lost 20 pounds in the first 2 months. When I was finally able to eat, my diet was very limited. Only bread, some fruits, oatmeal and dairy at first. I never did get to eat much meat. I was very hungry at first, but after week 12 I never felt hungry and only ate to survive. This was very sad for a person who loves food as much as I do.

I ate a portion I would normally eat for lunch as my meals for the entire day. Sometimes it stayed down, and sometimes not. I was always on the lookout for places to barf in an emergency. I kept a bowl in my car, one in the living room and extra dog bags in my coat. I used all of these at some point. It lasted my whole 41 week long pregnancy.

At first people were very understanding. They tried to give me tips about morning sickness, but anyone with hyperemesis will tell you that none of it will work. (Because I did not have morning sickness, I had it’s horrible cousin hyperemesis) People told me I was glowing, but nope, just sweaty from barfing all the time. People told me I looked great with my small bump and asked what my exercise routine was. (It was lying in fetal position, and running to the bathroom.) Turns out you don’t get bigger when you can’t eat food. On the plus side, I didn’t have much baby weight to lose.

By 6 months most people thought I must be feeling better, but nope. No one ever said this to me, but I sometimes felt that people did not believe I was still so ill. Some people imagine that I was over-reacting to regular morning sickness or that I couldn’t possibly still be sick. This was hard. Again, no one ever said it out loud, but I could tell they were thinking it by their reactions. Anyone who has ever thrown up thinks they understand, but they do not have a clue. I would read pregnancy books that promised I would begin to feel better, and want to hurl them out a window. I did not do this because I was not eating enough protein to hurl anything. Admittedly, it did improve a bit in the last trimester, and I even got to eat half a burger a week before my son was born, but only with the help of much medication.

What surprised me was how tough I found this mentally. It was as if I was being psychologically conditioned not to eat. You know when you have the flu, and whatever food you last ate before throwing up seems repulsive to you? Now imagine that everything you ate this year, you threw up. Including water. Feeling hungry?

The foods I could keep down changed constantly without warning and even on all the medication, I was pretty malnourished. The baby was completely fine, as he was dining on all my fat stores. This was a blessing. Feeling him move and seeing him on ultrasounds were the only parts I enjoyed about my pregnancy. They kept me going.

I wasn’t allowed to take my medication when I was in labour, so I barfed that whole day as well. Just when you thought labour couldn’t get any better. After he was born, I was able to eat fairly normally. It was the best feeling of my life! I devoured the hospital food like it was four star cuisine. I went to the grocery store with joy and spent way too much buying all the food I missed. I feel stronger than I have felt in a year.

I would just like to pause here to say that every pregnancy is difficult, and uncomfortable and takes a huge toll on our bodies. Even the ones people call “easy pregnancies” are no such thing. However, I think I had things much harder than most of the people I knew. It was like that saying:”If you don’t see the weirdo on the bus, then you are the bus weirdo.” Was this just my family? Okay then, still works. If you don’t see the pregnant women whose pregnancy seems terrible, then you are the worst case scenario. It was very isolating.

I am kind of a tough person, if I do say so myself, but I had a very hard time talking about it during the pregnancy because it was so difficult, both physically and psychologically. Now, strangely, I can’t stop talking about it. But now, no one wants to hear. They are not quite sure what to say, and mostly opt for things like, “But it was all worth it.” Yes, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. Somehow, the full weight of the struggle didn’t hit me until after he arrived. Maybe because I knew I didn’t have to keep positive about it any longer? Maybe because I had my head down, trying to power through. I am learning to let it go.

In the end, to say I did not enjoy my pregnancy would be an understatement but it was not something I regret. I would do every single second again for my son, but not for anything else. I fought for him, and I am proud. But he will not be getting many more siblings.

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