When you’re actually knocked up, you realize how stupid Hollywood can be. In movies, pregnancy’s a magical event that only happens below the belt. Your uterus swells up like a water balloon, which suddenly pops in public and then, two minutes of screaming and panting later, BABY! Nothing else changes, except maybe you have some theatrically appropriate crying jags and food cravings.
Pregnancy is more than a water-balloon uterus. It’s a whole-body, total-mindfuck experience. Yes, you’ll poo on the delivery table and want pickles at weird times and get stretch marks or not get stretch marks and your boobs will get bigger and people will try to touch your belly and you’ll want to punch them. But there’s a whole host of other stuff that no one, not even the internet, likes to talk about.
There will be boogers. You know how kids pick their noses all the time? You’ll do that. When you’re knocked up, your body oozes mucus and mucus and more mucus, which in turn makes boogers and boogers and more boogers. And not little, dainty boogers. Things appear in your nose that seem at home in a 50s horror flick, and you will feel a sudden, unstoppable urge to remove them. If you have toddlers, give up telling them not pick. Settle for them refraining in Target.
You will have weird-ass dreams every single night. And not dreams that submit easily to psychoanalysis or some pattern of pregnancy-related anxiety. One night, when I was pregnant with baby 3, Stephen King taught flower arranging in my eighth-grade classroom and I was flunking high school despite my graduate degree. The only other time I’ve dreamed that vividly, I was sleeping with a nicotine patch. Prepare to wake up in a cold sweat because the apocalypse happened and you couldn’t find your umbrella.
And speaking of prepared, you’ll need extra underwear. Don’t think that because you’re not all bleedy once a month your undie drawer is safe. Ever hear your husband, in a candid, unsexy moment, bitch about his ball sweat? Pregnant, you’ll go through at least two pairs of underwear a day. Pregnancy information websites will dance cutely around this and say you may have some “increased discharge”. This is wildly inaccurate. You will sweat like an Alabama swamp mule, especially in your groinular area. Go to Victoria’s Secret. Buy more unmentionables. Then you won’t run out before laundry day.
They tell you that you’ll feel all nesty. They don’t tell you that this nesting instinct feels like you just popped three Adderall before the Big Test and you’ve got this down, man, it’s all good! You are going to own this thing, baby. A sudden, violent urge to clean, and possibly rearrange furniture, will possess you. Pregnancy exhaustion? You won’t feel a thing. Time, tide, and toddlers become irrelevant, because this shit needs done now and you are doing it and it feels awesome. At week 20, I tried to dismantle a four-poster bed without help. I dropped baby furniture on my toes, wrapped my bleeding foot in a washcloth, and kept cleaning. Oh, and you’ll sleep all day the next day. Nesting is generally only recognized in retrospect.
You’ll ache like an old lady. Yes, your hips will spread. Yes, your pelvis will hurt, and your feet. We all know pregnant ladies’ feet ache. But so will your hands. And your wrists. Maybe your thumbs. Somewhere around week 30, without fail, I get carpal tunnel syndrome and have to sleep with those stupid wrist splints. The baby-industrial complex, and my former incompetent midwife, will swear that Tylenol will kill your baby. But don’t be a damn martyr. Pop the freaking pill. They can’t hurt more than all that acid you dropped in college, anyway.
People will make offensive comments about your weight. Everyone and their dead grandmother will ask when you’re due. If you cite a date too far in the future, you are a fatty fat or pregnant with twins. If it’s too soon, you’re too thin and probably going to kill your baby, you pregarexic. The last time around, an anterior placenta, diabetes, and two earlier pregnanies made me I look knocked up at like, implantation. Some lady – another mom, who should have known better – expressed shock when told I was only thirteen weeks along, instead mid-third trimester. I nearly decked her. This will happen to you. I recommend telling these people you aren’t pregnant – you have cancer. If you lay it on thick, maybe you can make them cry.
And you will feel mean enough to do that, because pregnancy comes with an urge to kill. You will get really, really, really angry at things. Driver cut you off in traffic? They almost murdered your baby on purpose. Lady say you look like you’re about to pop? She’s a fat-shaming bitch who should die of botched liposuction. Skinny pregnant women, barking dogs, your own children – these will all become objects of your wrath. It’s not just you. Go to the back bedroom and listen to some angry music. It will pass.
And finally: It’s all about your boobs. Yes, they’ll get bigger. Yes, they might hurt. But mostly, the fashion industry has decided that since you’re such a fat, useless, non-sexual whale, you better show them off. All maternity clothing is cut down to there. Forget normal necklines. All you’ve got is your boobs now, honey, so you best flaunt ’em. Boobalicious is the order of the day. Plus you’ll be nothing more than a milk cow after you deliver, so enjoy it now – the good, the bad, and the sweaty alike.