I Loathe Being Pregnant

Yes, your eyes don’t deceive; I said it. I opposite of “love” being pregnant. Hang me in effigy if you must. Or, tell me I’m “lucky” and should be grateful for the experience. Judge me.

Do your worst. I guarantee that whatever you dish out will pale in comparison to the Hell I’ve endured. Think I’m being over dramatic? Read for yourself and do me a favor and suspend your verdict until you encounter the final word.

Some women wax on about pregnancy with the same breathless pleasure as being post-orgasm. Awesome. Good for them. There are plenty of stories romanticizing procreation. However, this is not one.

Allow me to be real with you, kind reader, and to sugarcoat nothing. If you equate pregnancy with “tiptoeing through the tulips,” fantastic. If your personal experience is more akin to being hit by a Mac truck, welcome. This is a safe space for you to find empathy and maybe share a laugh or two between sighs and tears.

My ultimate hope is that other moms-to-be facing similar hurdles, to what I’m about to divulge, will take heart in knowing that you are not alone. Let’s begin at the beginning of my all-encompassing and ever-unexpected condition known as pregnancy.

Wahoo! The two lines intersected into a plus sign. The significance of this simple event meant only one thing: Against all odds and with total surprise, a baby was on its way. After the initial fanfare subsided, reality set-in with a deafening thud. Several days into the second month of gestation, morning sickness arrived.

In the first trimester I lost 13 lbs due to a combination of dehydration, hypermesis gravidarum (a la Princess Kate) and the kicker: Vertigo. Mind you, my vertigo wasn’t some passing phase of dizziness either. It was all-consuming total disequilibrium.

For almost three weeks I could not walk unassisted. I went from a healthy, strong, independent woman to a feeble invalid in the span of a second. Navigating my way from the bed to the bathroom became a feat of endurance coupled with pure bravery. Hurtling my body from the edge of the bed, I prayed my palms would connect in some tangible way with the adjacent wall. Once adhered to the face of said wall, I crawled around the perimeter for the five feet that separated me from my intended destination.

Oh and did I mention that I accomplished all of these countermeasures while my eyes were shut? Yes, you read correct. The undulations of nausea were more tolerable without the hindrance of actual sight. From weeks 14–17 of pregnancy, my daily accomplishment consisted of me crawling on the carpet, eyes closed, without bumping into an offending object. Good times.

After much concentrated effort and the mercy of time passing, my balance revisited me. Twice weekly Pilates sessions plus daily self-practice of exercises designed to reinstate equilibrium gradually took effect. By week 20, I was feeling semi-good and could actually eat a meal without fear of a massive, involuntary projectile expulsion of it.

All of the early prenatal blood work came back with great news and through frequent perinatal visits we soon learned a baby girl was on her way. I allowed myself to feel happy and attached to the overall experience for the first time since recovering from the Hell that was my first trimester.

Many people taut the second trimester as the “golden” period of pregnancy. Mine was more like a “golden” hiccup. By week 23, the debilitating nausea returned and ushered in a new companion: Vasovagal syncope. My new “passenger” made its debut with unbelievable stealth. At first waves of dizziness and dis-ease flooded my whole being for singular moments. I attributed these to “typical” pregnancy fluctuations in fluid retention, circulation, etc and rested often.

By week 25 however, my uninvited “guest” transformed into a cranky squatter. Passing dizziness gave way to full fledged passing out. Intermittent episodes yielded to daily occurrences. My blood pressure tanked at the conclusion of each interlude. I actually “saw” stars each time before almost-crumpling to the floor. Unimpressed by the new “visitor,” my OB Doctor reassured me, “It sounds like typical pregnancy stuff to me. Just manage it.”

This is how my “typical” morning unfolded. I woke up early after a night of not sleeping, stumbled into the kitchen to procure a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal (my newfound cure to now chronic constipation) and would then be greeted 30 minutes later by a spate of internal heat, sweaty palms, and uncontrollable fits of yawning mixed with dizziness. Similar to the management of vertigo before, I adopted yet another coping strategy involving crawling. Once the fainting appeared imminent, I lurched onto my left side and assumed the fetal position for no less than 90 minutes before standing was once again an option.

Adding to the newest developmental misery was the fact I failed the one hour and subsequent three hour glucose screening test. The second screening was nothing short of torture. You fast for 12–14 hours and then consume the foulest solution containing 100 grams of sugar within five minutes. Then, the phlebotomist turns your arms into pincushions by drawing blood from your now dehydrated, emaciated, pregnant body a total of four times.

Mind you I am 5'9" and have only gained 16 pounds up until this point in my pregnancy. I’m not exactly the poster child for diabetes. Teaching Pilates for a decade mixed with conscious eating habits gifted me a lean frame pre-pregnancy. Then, I lost 13 lbs during the first 17 weeks and added 16 lbs between weeks 17-28. In other words I am by no means obese and the “worst” craving I’ve indulged during gestation has been watermelon. Most people think I’m five months pregnant, not seven!

Never the less, my tests came back as positive for gestational diabetes. Crushing depression accompanied feelings of shame and defeat upon receiving the dreaded phone call from my OB doctor’s office. I’m now scheduled to see diabetes, kidney and cardio specialists to create a plan for surviving the remaining “sentence” of pregnancy. Why a kidney specialist you might ask? Well, the icing on the cake is that I was born with only one kidney and therefore gifted with two cervixes and two uteruses. Having extra parts in one area of my body and missing half in another apparently predisposes me to pregnancy complications with processing glucose on top of an increased risk of a C-section delivery and premature labor.

Prior to pregnancy I never experienced a single symptom related to the missing kidney or double reproductive organs short of a UTI. Now, I’m facing a host of potential horrors and have said goodbye to restful sleep, non-dizzy moments and pain-free bowel movements. That’s right I forgot to mention that the cause of my vasovagal syncope episodes seems to somehow be tied with increased acid reflux and decreased ease of digestion courtesy of my body’s response to pregnancy.

Perhaps I should have left “miracles” for the holiest of saints and never ventured into this murky undertaking. After all, I was ok pre-pregnancy. Never believing I could conceive or carry a baby to term due to my various anatomical limitations, I’d made peace and accepted my role as childless. The “miracle” that greeted me last winter has become a nightmare. All optimism is now threatened by dread. I’d be lying if I said my single wish was anything but to be done with this whole thing and to be cradling my healthy newborn as a healthy new mom.

Everything else before a successful delivery, starting right now, I’d like to fast forward through without one pang of remorse or regret. With all luck I will forget my pregnancy and never revisit the numerous horrors short of reading and maybe even re-reading my words above.

No matter what you think after reading these final sentences, I am at peace. Bottom line: I shared my story with complete authenticity and total acceptance of where I am at this instant in the ever-unexpected journey known as life. Here’s to the next step leading me to a softer landing.