A first time mother-to- be on the hopes, joys, and unexpected surprises of being pregnant.
By Jess Procter
A World of Worries
Despite coming from a white, middle-class, loving family and growing up in the suburbs in North America at a time when we have the highest life expectancy ever, I’ve always been plagued with anxiety about what may befall the ones I love. I planned how I would escape from a car after being kidnapped, I took the time to plan my own funeral at eight years old (how considerate for my parents), and in high school I wrote eulogies for each of my friends as Christmas gifts one year, because I thought they would appreciate knowing how someone felt about them while they were still living.
I come by my chronic worrying honestly; media is constantly telling us how many things cause cancer and regaling us with stories about that person who died in a freak accident on their honeymoon. Naturally, I started worrying about my baby before I even got pregnant, and good thing I did! Pretty much everything can harm an unborn baby and they’re all fun things: booze, hot dogs, soft cheese, caffeine, pâté, sashimi, rare steaks.
If you’re like me and your worrying quickly escalates from, “Did that one espresso I had last weekend stunt my baby’s growth forever?” to, “Oh my god, I hope she doesn’t get pregnant at fifteen by some loser dope smoker,” then it’s probably best that you find a way to chill the fuck out and enjoy the short time that your babe is always with you before she goes out into the world and makes god-knows-what kind of decisions.
The First Trimester is the Worst Trimester
Because we’re encouraged to keep our pregnancy a secret until we’re safely in the second trimester, no one talks much about those first 14 weeks, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not suffering alone, sister. Nausea, fatigue, likelihood of complications, food aversions; they’re all strongest during those first three months. Of course, you’re still expected to go to work every day and suffer in silence lest your coworkers find out your secret.
I chose to tell quite a few of my pregnant friends my news early on in order to have some solidarity because I felt a bit isolated in the beginning. It’s really nice to have a secret that only you and your spouse share (maybe that’s why we eloped), but because your hubby can’t really understand what’s happening in your bod and your mind as you experience pregnancy, it’s really nice to have a lady friend to commiserate with.
The Eating Habits of Highly Effective Hobbits
It’s hard to eat three big meals a day when you’re pregnant. In the first trimester your nausea may cause you to nibble on dry snacks like a rabbit, and in the later stages of pregnancy there just won’t be a room for a full burger and fries anymore because there’s a baby inside your belly taking up the space where your stomach used to be (this still blows my mind).
As a result, you’ll likely find yourself eating more than six meals a day like Pip, Merry, Frodo and Sam. Welcome to the wonderful world of breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, dessert… there is no time of day that is off limits to your growing baby. In fact, when I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, I often find myself reaching for the granola bar in my bedside table, and I’m not sure that even the hobbits have a name for that.
On Maternity Style
Because I sometimes troll the Instagram accounts of women I don’t know in search of meal ideas, decorating tips, and outfit inspiration, I’m all too familiar with what maternity style could look like. It haunts my bank account.
Gone are the days of expectant mothers draping their bodies in muumuus. Today’s mother can enjoy trendy, stylish clothes specifically created with her growing bump in mind – often at an exorbitant price. In what world do you have more money to blow when you’re expecting than you did In Real Life? You literally have to put a down payment on a stroller these days, not to mention the car seat you’ll need.
So no, I do not have $275 USD for the maternity dress / “investment piece” that I will wear for less than a year. I’d rather wear a garbage bag and save that money for the smokin’ hot dress I’m gonna fit into when I’m skinny again, thankyouverymuch.
And Now My Watch Begins…
No matter how many parenting books you read, there may yet come a time during your pregnancy when you realize that like Jon Snow, you know nothing. The first-timer parenting experience is largely a trial-and- error period of keeping a human baby alive.
For a time, you will not be able to tell her cries apart. You might put her backwards into her baby carrier or not know the difference between spit-up and vomit. Maybe you, like my husband and I, have never actually changed a diaper before.
Don’t sweat it; I’m pretty sure this is why babies aren’t cognizant for a while after they’re born, otherwise they’d remember every mistake you ever made and hold it against you basically forever. Like the Lord Commander, you’ve sworn an oath to undertake this role ’til you die (at least the first time), so chill out, you’ve got plenty of time to get the hang of things.
Those Lovely Lady Lumps
While I was never planning on posting weekly “bump” photos (only our mothers care about those), I thought it might be fun to take some for our family photo album.
I patiently awaited the arrival of that bump throughout the first trimester, but it never came. Soon I was cruising into the second trimester without looking very different from my former self, at least in clothes. What did turn out to be worth documenting were my new boobs, the growth of which I chronicled by taking periodic polaroids from different angles and writing “13 weeks” proudly underneath.
If you already enjoy the perks (pun intended) of having large breasts, the news that they’re gonna grow exponentially during pregnancy may alarm you. For those of us with less to love, getting the big(ger) boobs we’ve wanted for years is pretty damn exciting. I will appreciate it while it lasts, as my hubby lovingly predicts that they will be “saggy ol’ thangs” in no time.
You’re Not Better Because You’re a Mother
Parenting is, as we’ve heard many times, the “toughest and most rewarding job in the world.” It is special and motherhood is sacred and beautiful and delivering a baby is an incredible feat of strength. We are primal warrior princesses for having done it. But parenting is also dirty, disgusting, and literally shitty, and pregnancy is full of aches and pains, some of which actually tear us apart.
So let’s stop pretending our lives are Pinterest-perfect and our toddlers are always happy and giggling, because it makes moms who are struggling feel isolated and alone. Fact: we don’t need an IQ test or a special license to get knocked up.
Having babies is a universal thing that women have been doing since time immemorial, so while we may feel special, it isn’t our status as mothers that make us so, it is our many combined achievements, our kindness, our patience, our womanly determination. Saying “you just don’t understand because you’re not a mother,” even if you believe it’s true, undermines the intelligence and empathy of the woman you’re speaking to and makes all non-mamas feel like total shit.
A single woman today can embody myriad classifications, so let’s not speak of motherhood as the defining characteristic of womanhood. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger carried a baby for God’s sake.
Jess is a server, writer, and new bride who lives and loves in Yeast Van. She is a connoisseur of good cider and bad tattoos and will knit you something pretty if you ask.