I discovered during my pregnancies that the people I know are liars. Sure they meant well, but had I known then what I know now, I'd never have believed them in the first place. Following are the lies they told me and the truths I found.
1. Morning sickness goes away after the first trimester.
HA! Try this instead: Morning sickness is a myth. Instead I affectionately refer to it as "morning-noon-and-night" sickness. I vomited from day 12 all the way to delivery. I think I even vomited a time or two during labor. I gained a whopping 10 pounds and how I even gained that much is beyond me. I ate, vomited, and then ate again while praying continually that it would stay down for even just a few minutes. If I wasn't vomiting, I was feeling as though I would vomit. I knew my "dear uncle john" better than anyone/thing during that time -- he was my friend.
Have you ever vomited into a toilet that stands 12 inches tall with nine 18- to 24-month olds looking on and giggling? Yup, that was me. I had the privilege of teaching preschool during my first pregnancy. Those kids thought it was just the funniest thing to see me vomit into that toilet. I can guarantee you the one thing I know they learned was that vomit goes into the potty just like pee and poop. I'm sure that knowledge made their parents proud.
2. Almonds or sprite and crackers or whatever other combination of food items makes the nausea go away.
HA! That's a load of hooey if I ever did hear any! Those very things that were supposed to make the nausea better actually served to make it worse. Trust me, if those had worked I would have put number 1 up there as number 1!
3. Movement is a wonderful thing to feel. It's so magical -- movement marks the point at which you realize the gift God has given you.
HA! Movement... How shall I say this? At first was mistaken for more nausea. Or maybe it was actually nausea that was mistaken for movement. At any rate, the two were often closely related. The more my baby moved, the more I vomited. Of course, I did find a slightly magical quality to the feeling of movement -- mostly in that it was quickly followed by either having to lie down or run to the bathroom to vomit. Never was there just "movement." Movement was always followed by an undesirable action.
Sure, it was reassuring to know that my baby was healthy -- something signified by movement -- but it was also quite disconcerting to feel the constant jabs that felt as though her foot would pop out of my belly like the alien in the Schwarzenegger movie, "Total Recall."
There was also the feeling of pain as she jabbed her head into my bladder causing severe pain followed by the (often described as amusing) sight of a very pregnant woman running into the bathroom to pee. Of course what no one saw while I was at work was this very pregnant woman trying to sit down on a toilet that was a mere 12 inches tall (the only one in the building taller than that was too far from anywhere I ever was for me to make it there) and then trying to get back up again. Yup, that was me.
Oh, and we can't forget the complete roll performed by my son as I was reading to a group of 5-year-olds. I had the book rested on my extremely large belly and was doing my best to fight off the urge to pee and vomit at the same time. Suddenly my son, described affectionately then as a hippo trapped in a watermelon, rolled. His head which had previously been sitting on my right side just above my hip rolled across my belly causing the book to shift significantly and then settled on the left side just above my pubic bone. The children's eyes all grew to the size of saucers. Tears welled up in my eyes from the pain of that particular gymnastics move. One precious child whispered, "Mrs. Carol? Did that hurt?" Of course, not wanting to ruin the moment for the kids (who were frozen in awe) I answered, "No. Not at all. But, let's go play in centers while Mrs. Carol takes a quick break."
4. You won't even notice that your hips are spreading until after it's already over.
Yup. This one is true. Sure it is. That pain at 2 a.m. that woke me and caused me to wonder if my body would split in half, the one that robbed me of countless hours of sleep, the one that lasted on into the day and made sitting, standing, or even walking difficult, the one that came back repeatedly at odd times throughout my pregnancy? Nope, that couldn't have been my hips spreading. Could it? Surely a pain centered in that region of my body that was never felt before pregnancy could NOT be associated with the spreading of my hips to allow for a small watermelon to pass through the birth canal? Could it?
5. Frequent urination isn't a *real* problem -- it's a figment of your imagination.
Frankly, I'm not sure what rock those people were living under, but really, they could have thought up something better than this one. The plain truth is that frequent urination IS a problem.
It's a problem when you are in the middle of a 3-hour stretch of driving with no bathrooms in sight. It's a problem when you are out shopping with a woman who drinks gallons of water a day and a 3-yr old who is potty training. It's a problem when you are in a class and supposed to be teaching children they can't leave the room to go potty every five minutes -- kind of hard to enforce when you do the same thing. It's a problem when you are at your favorite restaurant that has awesome food but crappy restrooms. It's a problem when you are at a concert for the Symphony Orchestra and the line at intermission is not only out the door but down the hallway and the only other available bathroom is up a flight of stairs, down a LONG hallway, and in pitch black because that floor of the building isn't being used at the time.
6. Cravings are your body's way of telling you that you need to eat more of certain vitamins.
Yup. And just how many vitamins did I get in that half gallon of hot salsa I downed with that big basket of chips at the Mexican food restaurant last night that gave me the horrible heartburn that caused me to miss out on a good night's sleep? Sure, I could have skipped the salsa, but THAT was what I was craving. I had to have it. There was nothing else I wanted. No, my body didn't need it - my body wanted it and then rejected it. I tell you now that salsa-induced-vomiting burns. It was a craving that caused the problem -- not a need for vitamins and minerals -- just a craving for that tastey hot, hot, hot, hot salsa.
7. Explaining the process to children is easier than you think.
Ok, whoever came up with this statement never taught preschool while pregnant! You must remember that many of these children have never been exposed to a pregnant person on a regular basis. Many of these children have never seen a person's belly grow that much in such a short period of time. Many of these children are too darn curious for their own good!
Lastly, I'd like to throw in a list of the lovely "old wive's tales."
These were lovingly passed on to me during my first pregnancy. Most of them just made me giggle while others made me laugh right out loud. For your reading enjoyment here they are:
- Raising your hands above your head wraps the umbilical cord around the baby's neck.
- Wearing your hair in a pony tail causes the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby's neck. If either 1 or 2 would have been true I'd have had 2 very sad deliveries -- instead I got 2 healthy babies with no umbilical cord problems.
- Your baby will have a birthmark in the shape of whatever scares you during your pregnancy.
- If this were true both my children would have birthmarks that looked like spiders and the boogey man.
- Carrying high means it's a girl -- low means it's a boy. If this were true D would be a girl, not a boy.
- Carrying low means it's a girl -- high means it's a boy. If this were true MJ would have been a boy.
- Frequent heartburn signals the birth of a child with a LOT of hair. Yah, both of mine were baldies. I credit my frequent heartburn to lots of salsa and pizza.
- Sitting with your feet propped up causes the baby to turn sideways (breech). If this were true my daughter would have been breech since this was my position of choice during modified-bedrest the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy. Instead she had a nice pointy cone-head due to having sat in the birth canal for so stinkin' long while I struggled to hold her inside.
You see? People lied. They lied a lot. From how I would feel to how kids would react. All in all I am so glad I have my children, but given the pain and discomfort associated with morning sickness, movement, and other miscellaneous things that were never mentioned before they happened (hips spreading, back pain, insomnia, frequent urination...) I'm really glad I won't have to endure the "joy" of pregnancy again.
I know others have wonderful, happy experiences through their pregnancies but I have to admit that I am not one of them. One of the major deciding factors in our choosing a surgical form of birth control was my not liking the way I felt during pregnancy. Of course other things factored in as well, but knowing that I don't have to endure those pains again is appealing to me.
I'm thankful I did it twice, but also thankful I won't have to do it again.
Carol E. Jordan is the mother of 2 children. She has been a preschool teacher for 9 years and has a CDA (Child Development Associate), an Early Childhood Education professional credential.
Copyright © Carol E. Jordan. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.