For the first six months of my pregnancy with twins, I had no complaints -- not a stitch of morning sickness, and sometimes in the early stages, I could almost forget I was pregnant. Then my third trimester hit me like a freight train, and I struggled to endure those last few months when my size and symptoms made it hard to even walk to the bathroom.
Of course, I remained ever grateful that my high-risk pregnancy was proceeding without complications. But I have to admit that I was among those who didn't love being pregnant for a good chunk of the experience.
From physical symptoms to psychological struggles to downright nasty strangers, here's why you might not like being pregnant, either -- and why that's totally okay.
You Didn't Expect to Be Having a ...
Maybe you desperately wanted a girl, and learned you're carrying a boy -- or vice versa. Gender disappointment can be a source of sadness and anxiety for some moms, even when they know deep down that the most important thing is incubating a healthy baby.
Or maybe you were excited to find out you were expecting -- but soon learned you were carrying not one but two (or more!) babies.
"Many families who don't have a long history of twins are often shocked by that second heartbeat during that very first sonogram," says mom of twins Natalie Diaz, author of What to Do When You're Having Two and founder of the website Twiniversity.com. "It's usually unexpected, even with IVF or other fertility treatments, and scary."
Beyond the initial shock, there can be more physical challenges and discomforts when you're carrying multiples -- and huge financial, logistical, and health concerns, too. With a multiple-birth pregnancy, parents often have their new life flash before their eyes: double the diapers, double the crayons ... and double the college tuition!
You're Super-Anxious All the Time
Anxiety can take over, big-time, during pregnancy -- especially if you're expecting for the first-time or are in a high-risk category. Besides being a general head-trip, knowing there's an actual human being growing inside of you can contribute to exactly the kind of stress that mamas-to-be are told to avoid. Talk about a vicious cycle!
It's easy for your worries and concerns to lead you to a dark place -- namely, the Internet, which can compound the problem by providing boatloads of information from sources that may not be accurate or reputable. "Googling even the slightest pregnancy concern can take you down a rabbit hole that you don't want to go down," says Diaz. "Rarely do you find positive remarks and outcomes online unless you're looking for that. You might not like being pregnant after a session at the computer!"
You Miss All the Off-Limits Stuff
As a vegetarian, I didn't spend a lot of time crying over not having sushi or lunchmeat. But I did miss drinking wine, and luxuriating in a hot bath or in the steam room or sauna at the gym. I missed free-flowing caffeine, and unpasteurized cheese and juice. I even missed being able to scuba dive while on vacation.
In short, when you're pregnant, there are a lot of things you're not supposed to do. And for some people, that can limit the thrill of the experience -- and even cause resentment to build up. That's totally logical, and normal!
You Have Nothing to Wear
Kim Kardashian nailed it when she complained, "Pregnancy style is hard!" It's expensive and exhausting to buy a whole new wardrobe for a new body -- especially when your closet is full of pretty things that express your personality, but which no longer fit. You may think you're done after you pick up a few staples -- but then there's a wedding, or an important work event, and then what?
"It was hard for me to watch my body change so dramatically so quickly -- while longingly staring at my beautiful wardrobe," says Alexis Scott, mom to an 8-month-old son. "I'm a wardrobe stylist, and I have lots of clothes that I love! It was frustrating to not be able to wear some of my favorite things, and learning how to dress a new body type was challenging."
People Can Be So Mean
What is it about a pregnant woman that makes people forget their manners? It's never okay to gawk at a woman's size, or shame her for it -- but pregnant women know from experience it happens all the time. And it can be demoralizing, humiliating -- or just plain maddening.
"I hated when people would say, 'Oh, you're due any day now, huh?' Or, 'Wow, you're huge!'" says mom Briana Foale.
I'll never forget the time a sales clerk took one look at my second-trimester pregnant belly and said, "You're due in July?! You'll be positively bedridden by then. I hear that's very depressing." True story. (And, yes, I cried.)
Your Body Feels Alien
This one probably needs little explanation: It's hard to enjoy being pregnant if you feel nauseous all the time.
Beyond that, pregnancy comes with a zillion aches, pains, and unfamiliar symptoms. Gas, constipation, back pain, swollen ankles, growing feet, acid reflux, the constant need to pee -- and on and on. Your body can suddenly feel downright foreign.
"I had morning sickness 24 hours a day, plus severe back pain, insomnia, trouble breathing, varicose veins, personality changes from the sickness, and lack of sleep," says mom Jamie Curry Wilkinson. The baby is totally worth it, of course, but that doesn't make the day-to-day experience any less difficult.
Maddening Mood Swings
Toward the end of my second trimester, my husband and I took a fabulous babymoon to the big island of Hawaii. On our first day there, I went to the spa, and emerged ... bawling my eyes out. What on earth?! I just couldn't stop crying -- I even cried because I was crying!
Pregnancy can do that to a girl. The good news, says Christine C. Greves, M.D., an ob-gyn at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, is that emotional distress -- whether it's caused by the naturally higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that pregnant women have or by the sudden fluctuations or elevations in other hormones that occur during pregnancy -- is a totally normal (even logical!) response to what can be an uncomfortable time in life.
Of course, if you truly feel bummed about your pregnancy, be sure to mention your feelings to your health-care practitioner: You may be suffering from prenatal depression. In fact, Dr. Greves notes that the incidence of mood disorders in pregnancy is actually quite high -- and may or may not be related to hormones.
For most women, though, it's okay to simply admit that there are bad days. "Pregnancy is the only normal human condition characterized by pain and discomfort -- and it lasts months," she says. "Although there's a lot to celebrate about being pregnant, women can also become anxious about the domestic and personal changes that will occur after they deliver. And naturally most women are never at peace until their newborn is in their arms and they have counted the fingers and toes."
Complicating your emotions even further may be a general sense of pressure from society to love every moment of the experience. But if you don't? Give yourself a break. You're far from alone. Surround yourself with people who allow you to feel all of your emotions -- and people who know just what you're going through.
Even in the throes of my third-trimester discomfort, one of the things that made pregnancy still somehow lovable was the ability to share specifics about the wild ride -- good, bad, and ugly -- with trusted friends who'd been there too, and who totally got it. Love or hate it, mamas-to-be are all in it together!
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