Very so often, when I'm walking down the street with my two little girls, I'll catch sight of a pregnant woman -- large, uncomfortable, but undeniably glowing -- and I'll get a twinge of jealousy. She's so lucky, I'll think. It's not that every minute of my two pregnancies was pure bliss. But once I got past the nausea and fatigue, I discovered that not only could pregnancy be fun, but it could have moments of transcendence unlike any other time in my life. Here, the top 20 reasons I loved being pregnant:
1. Listening to my husband read to my belly. After a particularly funny David Sedaris story, I swear I heard the baby laugh.
2. Maternity clothes that were way more stylish than anything in my regular wardrobe. The best part was that I never had to worry if my butt looked big, since everything looked tiny compared to my burgeoning belly.
3. People smiling at me and holding the door as if I were someone important.
4. My work colleagues saying, "You look exhausted! Why don't you go home early, I'll finish up those papers."
5. Membership in a special sorority. Any time I passed another pregnant woman on the street, or a mom with a newborn, we would grin at each other as if we were in on a secret no one else shared.
6. Having an instant icebreaker at parties.
7. Watching the amazing nightly spectacle of my baby moving around in my belly.
8. A legitimate excuse to take a daily break at 4 p.m. to go out and get a large frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles.
9. The incredibly satisfying creative pursuit of thinking up baby names. I spent countless hours scribbling different combinations. Elizabeth Grace or Bellamy Cate? Madeleine Rose or Molly Ilana?
10. World-class service. One night at a trendy Italian restaurant with a 45-minute wait, the ma?tre d' insisted, "We don't make the mama wait! Take this table!"
11. Shoe shopping made easier. My feet grew a half size and stayed that way, which means I went from being a hard-to-find 5 to an in-stock-everywhere 6.
12. For the first time in my life, cleavage!
13. A whole new social world. Two of my closest friends are a woman I met in childbirth class and a neighbor I knew only in passing, who knocked on my door with a stack of pregnancy books and a bag of maternity clothes.
14. On the subway, in my cubicle, at the grocery store, there was always someone I loved keeping me company.
15. Making a special effort to go to all those romantic restaurants my husband and I had been eager to try because we knew we wouldn't do it again for a while.
16. Baby hiccups! Once I figured out what those weird rhythmic pulses in my belly were, they gave me a good giggle.
17. My hair, which hadn't been that thick and luxurious since I was 12 years old.
19. Being able to see beyond the next weekend and look into a future filled with family vacations, school recitals, bat mitzvahs, college, weddings, and even -- gulp -- grandchildren.
20. Knowing that all those years of getting my period finally paid off!
Marisa Cohen is a writer in New York City.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, February 2006.