What No-One Tells You About Being Pregnant | Vogue.co.uk
Written for Vogue.co.uk on 28/01/18
The moment you begin to tell people that you are pregnant, the advice – unsolicited or otherwise – pours in. And yet alongside the obvious (morning sickness, tiredness, swelling belly) there are myriad symptoms that make you howl to yourself, on a regular basis, “well no-one ever told me THAT”. Here, from my personal pregnancy vault, are a favoured few…
That your cravings will be really boring. They won’t be coal or dog biscuits or anything so revoltingly exotic. They will be pizza and crisps and anything that can be bought at Iceland.
That you will be a little bit sick, every time you bend over.
That your boobs will dust your stomach in such a way that wearing a bra does not just become a social condition, but a physical necessity to avoid being smothered alive.
That whilst you knew about pregnancy hormones – which don’t negate your emotional experience, thank you very much – you did not know that Angry Pregnant Woman is not merely a cliché endorsed by a patriarchal society, it is very much a real thing. It will strike when you see any kind of injustice, or witness any kind of tedious insanity. She cannot be silenced, this alter ego of yours and so you should just embrace this temporary, pregnant Sasha Fierce.
That you are pregnant not for nine months, but for 10. This is the cruellest discovery of all.
That you don’t just need to buy one or two items of clothing (“I never shopped when I was pregnant! Just wore an old shirt and a pair of boyfriend jeans” being the most unhelpful thing you can hear) but that you need to buy new everything. Even tights. Regular tights will garrot you in two until you pass out (ASOS and Falke do ones with nice stretchy bump panels.) Your normal size of knickers will slice into your gut like cheesewire. The only thing that will still fit you from your pre-Weeble life are your socks, but I’m not promising anything. Ankles can do spectacularly weird things, should they so choose to.
That the “pregnancy glow” is a fucking myth. The reality is spots, exhaustion, a throbbing coccyx, hormonal migraines, a three month aversion to vegetables and chronic constipation. You’re welcome.
That your body will become a public property; a locus for discussion. That touching your bump is not the most annoying thing that people can do. No, that it is saying any of the following: “Gosh, I thought you were due earlier than that!”; “Are you sure you aren’t carrying two?”; “Is your bump big or small?” Pregnancy already makes you feel vulnerable and discombobulated. People discussing your physical home – which is now functioning as rented student accommodation, with a party every night and a hangover, to boot, the next day – like a third party, does not help. You wouldn’t do it when a woman wasn’t pregnant; don’t do it when they are.
That your belly button could legitimately grow to the size of a snozzcumber. (Just me?)
That no-one has a “great” birth story. Everyone you know had a long labour, or a weird birth, or 487 stitches – and everyone will want to tell you about it (except the 0.01 per cent who had a total kumbaya experience), to “prepare you”. Childbirth, you learn, is not so much a transcendental experience, as it is a midwife pushing on your ribcage so hard her feet don’t touch the floor, trying to get that baby out. I can’t wait.
That attending NCT classes will feel a bit like going to piano lessons, when you were seven. No-one said impending motherhood made you mature.
That nesting is real and pervasive and there is nothing you can do to fight it. You may think you are too ambitious to hibernate for such a long stretch. But then you discover that all you really want to do for most of your pregnancy is stock up on canned goods from Ocado, fold and re-fold tiny cardigans, invest inexplicably in antique ceramic dogs and never, unless forced, leave your house of an evening.
That tracksuit bottoms are unavoidable. A pair of slim-cut tracksuit bottoms with an oversized knit and some Chelsea boots will manifest itself as a formal outfit once you hit 32 weeks and even when your paramour tentatively cites concern that it might be, well, “time to wash that?” you will remain cheerfully feral. A scrunchie is decorative. You need nothing more.
That people will be inexplicably kind. That the DHL man will guess “girl?” or “boy?” every time he sees you – without realising he asked you last week – and beam every time your response is the same. That people will shoot out of their seats on the tube to give the waddling woman a seat. That a homeless man in the street – with all his worries and his cold – will shout “congratulations love!” at you, as you walk past, at a glacial pace, now the parameter of both a horse and its chariot. That drunk friends, whilst annihilating you with their tequila-fumed breath, will cling to you, like some kind of Mother Earth physically incarnated, in a way that is utterly endearing, if a little galling – because you cannot taste even a sip of that sweet, toxic, nectar that they are currently spilling all over your bump.
That this time is so extraordinary, so overwhelming – with your child inside of you, growing her tiny ears and her little toes – that even though people try and tell you of its munificence, nothing, yet nothing, can prepare you.