A beautiful young mother-to-be smiles at the sunny, sparkling nursery. She places her hand on her smooth, perfect, round belly...
Pregnancy. It's a magical time. Well, at least according to commercials and movies where it's romanticized into nine months of glowing bliss. Where morning sickness, if there is morning sickness, only happens in the morning. Where a woman gets the slightest baby bump and gains weight no where else on her body. Where maternity clothes are actually stylish.
Anyone who has had a baby knows that this scenario is, to put it nicely, bull hockey. Morning sickness can happen any time of the day, and it can last all day. Everything swells, belly, boobs, fingers, toes... No one tells you that your feet get bigger, but they do get bigger. And they stay bigger. As for maternity clothes, they have gotten better. However, after five or six months of wearing jeans with tummy panels and little poofy floral tops, you start feeling like a style- challenged Weeble.
Another thing no one tells you before you get pregnant is the fact that your IQ will suddenly drop to about 17. Apparently, your brain is so busy with the task of putting together a tiny human that you become a drooling moron who can't walk without falling down or running into stuff. It doesn't matter that you were a rocket-scientist before you got pregnant. As soon as the little stick says "positive" you earn a seat on the short bus.
The Hollywood version of pregnancy cravings is the oh-so-humorous pickles and ice cream. Ha ha, that's hilarious. *Sarcasm* In truth, you can crave anything from Big Macs to laundry detergent when you're expecting. No joke. For the last month or so of my second pregnancy, I had a Big Mac every day for lunch. Needless to say, my butt and thighs still bear the evidence, but it was what I wanted, so I ate it. Pregnancy cravings are irrational. You can't make them go away until you satisfy them. It's different from regular cravings where you see a pizza commercial and think, 'I'd like to have some pizza.' This kind of craving is a deep, desperate need. You must have a banana split with extra chocolate sauce and a side of bacon or you feel like you will DIE!
We've all seen those movies where a couple is about to have a baby. There's a comical mad dash to the hospital, and then the woman pants and pushes a few times, and Voila! A clean, pink, bright-eyed baby is born. Uh-uh.
The truth is, for most births, there is a lot of waiting involved. First off, there isn't that one big moment where you're hit with a contraction and you know "it's time." No, there's usually a grueling build-up where the contractions begin, but just slightly enough to make you go, "What the crap was that?" For the next 12, 16, 18, 32, 48+ hours, the pain continues to build until you begin to feel like Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart. I thought I would be tough and go without drugs with my first child. By about halfway through, my contractions started overlapping, and the anesthesiologist became my best friend.
With my second child, my labor progressed so quickly that there wasn't time to administer an epidural. That actually ended up not being so bad. Delivery isn't nearly as horrific as some folks would have you believe. Sure, it hurts. You're pushing a tiny person out of your body. It's actually pretty amazing. Once the pushing is over, you are presented with this tiny little purplish alien blob. For those of you who think you could never fall in love with a purplish alien blob, you've obviously never given birth.
The alien blob is cleaned up, and after a short stay at the hospital you take a sweet pink baby home where it suddenly hits you; this baby is totally dependent on you and you have no idea what you're doing. How do you know what it wants or needs? What if you forget something or do it wrong? How did you mother manage to do this twice? Suddenly you're doubtful and afraid, and it doesn't help that everything seems to make you cry. According to modern media it's not supposed to be this way! You should be skinny and smiling serenely as you calmly nurse your baby in your beautiful, sunny nursery. Instead, you're bloated and tired and still in your pajamas from two days ago while you're desperately trying to get your ravenous little milk leech to latch on properly.
Fortunately, it all passes. After a few weeks, you can nurse while doing dishes and talking on the phone. At the same time. The little darlings do eventually sleep through the night. The time between crying fits gets longer and longer. The baby stops crying so much too. And then there's all the cute stuff that happens in between: the first smile, the first giggle, the first tooth. A day comes when he looks up at you and smiles and says, "I love you, Mommy" and you forget about the hours crouched in front of the toilet. You forget about the heartburn and the midnight mushroom cravings. You even forget about the labor pains.
It's all worth it, right?
In a few more years I'll be dealing with a teenager. I'll let you know then.
*This post is dedicated to my little sister who is currently expecting baby #2. I wish I could say that I hate that you're going through this, but as Aunt Mimi for a second time, I can't. I do hope you feel better soon!