Pregnancy is supposed be magical. You’re supposed to flit about in attire that’s somehow both hippie flowy and baby-belly-tight. You get dramatic, cute cravings for things like Cadbury Cream Eggs in July. Your baby kicks ever so gently for the first time, and the other parental unit is there to feel it.
You can paint your toenails. You get henna on your belly and take pictures of this, bare-breasted, in a field just at sunset. Your Facebook announcement is tasteful and cute and adorable and twee with the perfect touch of hipster irony, and somehow features your dog. You have actual maternity leave without turning Canadian. Everyone wants to congratulate you, and no one thinks you’re just packing a food baby.
This is not how pregnancy works though.
Growing a human being can be magical. Growing a human being can also totally suck. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable. Your cravings center more around hot dogs and frozen berries. You cannot reach your feet, but people just think you ate too much cake and don’t give up their seat on the subway. You don’t get maternity leave. You don’t get a photoshoot. You don’t even get a cute Facebook announcement. And the parts of pregnancy that people say you should love? You don’t really have to like them.
It’s okay not to like them, in fact. It’s totally normal. Things like…
1. Telling Your Partner
Pinterest will show you all kinds of cute-ass ways to do this, all the way down to having the dog wear a shirt that says “I’m the big brother.” Gag me. Mostly, he or she will find out when you scream from the bathroom as you read the positive pregnancy test. Bathroom screaming means that you’ve either discovered an internal parasite or peed on a stick, and his or her mind will likely go to the latter. This might be a bonding experience. This might be a colossal accident. But it likely won’t involve a dog T-shirt.
2. Your Baby Shower
This is mostly so people can give you presents you wouldn’t buy yourself (the key here: that you wouldn’t buy yourself ). You can only suffer through so many onesies and blankets and socks and stupid gift sets before you think, get me the fuck out of here. Then there are stupid party games, and everyone feels entitled to touch your belly because they just bought you something. Just pray they stick to the registry and go away as soon as possible. The big stuff, like the crib and the pack and play? Your relatives will buy that, not your broke-ass college friends.
3. Maternity Clothes
You get a whole new wardrobe! Unfortunately, it’s more stretchy-waisted than you’ve worn since you were 4. It’s also all cut down to there, as if manufacturers threw up their hands and thought, “Well, that stupid bump is decidedly nonsexual so let’s show off some boobs.” You will likely not find the clothes in your taste because they generally aren’t in anyone’s taste, and any time you go to buy some, the salesperson will accost you with offers for free diapers and formula just to get you on their mailing lists. Sneaky asses.
4. Buying Baby Stuff
True story: I walked into Ye Olde Big Box Baby Store for the first time at about 3 months pregnant. I took one look around at all the stuff I needed to keep one single baby alive, and broke down in tears right around the automatic doors. Buying cute outfits? Fun. Picking out a baby carrier print? Fun. Selecting tiny shoes? Fun. Picking out what pump and bottle system to use? Wildly boring and semi-depressing.
5. Setting Up the Nursery
You’re supposed to get so into this that you climb up on a ladder and drip paint on your pregnant belly. Bullshit. Unless you’re a Pinterest queen, in which case you don’t find this remotely funny, you are way too tired to care about the color of the walls, and you know the baby will be too small to give a flying fuck. There’s a crib to set up and sheets to put on it — more fun leaning over! — plus dressers to assemble and stuffed animals to arrange and other banal, banal tasks, none of which will be as good as Pinterest and hence all of which will be depressing. You didn’t even plan a bunting for your baby’s windows. You fucking monster.
6. The 20-Week Ultrasound
This is the magic time when you find out the gender! Of course, it’s actually the time you check for major abnormalities, so it’s totally normal to be completely freaked out going into it. They couldn’t find my middle son’s feet for a while, so I spent much of this event in white-knuckle terror. You also may be wedded to having one gender over another, and live in fear that the doc will reveal you’re having the other. Plus, you’re in an uncomfortably sinky chair, with cold goo all over your belly, trying to figure out if you’re looking at your liver or a fetus. You likely have to pee very, very bad as well. A suck-ass time was had by all, until sweet relief descended, of course.
7. Telling Your Boss
This can go several ways. You can tell them, and they can be nice because you plan on coming back afterward. You can tell them that you plan on coming back afterward, and they can find a sneaky way to fire you a week later. You can also tell them that you plan on quitting for good. Almost no one takes that route. Mostly they lie.
Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that. Eat this. Eat that. You weren’t planning on drinking that, were you? *Nosey person points at innocuous glass of red wine* Pregnancy is supposed to be all about people fetching you Cadbury Creme Eggs in July and tracking down Peeps in December (not the Christmas tree kind). My grandfather used to get my mother two Midway hotdogs from downtown every day because that’s what she wanted. Nope. Now, it’s all about “Don’t eat that sushi,” and “That fish has mercury in it,” and “One glass of red wine will put you into spontaneous labor.” And fuck ever seeing soft cheeses again, let alone eating them. No cold sandwiches either. Once your partner joins in, you will fantasize about taking your meals alone in a dark closet.
9. Your Gigantic Belly
Now that it’s clearly not a food baby, everyone think it’s just so fucking cute. What they don’t know is that it’s heavy, it’s covered in stretch marks, and you need one of those support-belt thingies to stop your back from hurting. They will also all want to touch it, which is annoying. The last thing you want is for people to touch the stretched-out, itchy skin covering the baby inside you who’s currently doing the tarantella on your bladder.
10. Your Baby Moving
At first, this will be magical. It will also be indistinguishable from indigestion. Then it will go back to being magical for a while. But eventually, you will find your baby moving — other than to assure you that it’s okay — can be completely annoying, especially in the middle of the night. It will thump you while you’re trying to sleep. It will dance on your bladder at all hours of the day or night. It will kick you in the ribs, from the inside. Only your partner, who’s with you all the time, will understand how annoying this is. Other people will be charmed by your baby’s every movement. This will enrage you, but you can’t exactly yell at Grandma, “He’s jumping up and down on my pee!”
Pregnancy can be magical. But it doesn’t have to be. And you shouldn’t feel guilty when it isn’t. Don’t let Pinterest get you down. Everything isn’t perfect. Everything isn’t comfortable or convenient, pregnancy least of all. Society likes to gloss over that part. Probably because if we admitted the truth, we’d never procreate in the first place.