I met with an expectant mom last week for lunch. She was late, harried, and honestly she looked like hell. I didn’t have to ask her how she was feeling, twice during lunch I thought she was going to pass out. Once she actually excused herself and came back and said she’d thrown up “yet again”.
She kept apologizing.
Finally I said, “Please stop apologizing, you are pregnant forcryingoutloud!” That’s when the water works began, I offered her my napkin, and a piece of ginger candy I had in my purse, ordered her some chamomile tea, and asked the server to take away the offending food and it’s aroma that was making this poor lady ill.
“I am sick every single damn day” she proclaimed in-between micro sips of tea. I nodded and empathized and shared with her that I didn’t stop throwing up until my son was born. The power of the placenta and all that rot.
Her eyes were as big as saucers as she listened to my own memories of pregnancy, and she again began to cry. “The nurse at my OB’s office told me I should be grateful and shouldn’t complain.” “She what?” I asked, sitting up straighter in my chair while instantly feeling overly protective of this new mom to be. The woman nodded and said “Yes, I went in for a check, I was just 12 weeks, I thought the sickness should have stopped by now. I didn’t gain weight my first trimester at all, and continued to throw up daily. I asked her about some help with feeling so sick and she told me that being sick comes with the territory and I should be grateful and shouldn’t complain it would pass.”
I gave her the “Oh no she didn’t” look and went on to educate this first time pregnant lady about morning sickness, hormones, and what she could and couldn’t take to help with that. I also advised her that her first order of business would be to call her physician after lunch and tell him flat out that she’s 23 weeks pregnant, still sick as a dog and really not wanting to be this ill throughout the rest of her pregnancy.
“Can I do that?” she asked. “Of course you can.” I replied. “I didn’t think I had the right to complain” she said, “Blowing her nose rather loudly into her napkin.
I found myself winding up for the mother of all rants — “First of all”…. I began and that prompted the first chuckle out of the woman across the table from me. She knew what was coming and was truly all ears.
Being pregnant is not always easy. Not every woman loves being pregnant. There’s no shame in that. It is what it is. No one could have warned me about how sick I was going to fill. I think that’s one of those things you have to experience for yourself. The exhaustion was almost overwhelming. I had no clue that hormones could cause me to be so bone tired and weary that I could have easily slept my first trimester away.
I thought I had a handle on the emotional part of this. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I either wanted to jump my husband’s bones and gush about how wonderfully amazing he was while I hummed “You’re Havin My Baby” by Paul Anka or I wanted to cut his equipment off and box him up and send him to outer Siberia. Commericals made me cry. Puppies and Pampers made me cry. My doctor made me cry. My mother made me cry. My ever expanding waistline made me cry. I was a puddle of tears and should have strapped on a pair of hip waders.
I can remember after a horrible bout of nausea that was accompanied by a rather awful bout of constipation it became crystal clear to me that my body wasn’t going to be my own until this child that I had worked so terribly hard for was born. And that was not going to happen for another six months or so. It was early in the game and I truly wasn’t sure if I could do this. As I stood in my own Perinatologists office my nurse actually said “Oh it’s really not that bad is it? Your color is great and so is your blood pressure”. I then promptly without warning puked all over her nice clogs, and the proceeded to throw up as my Perinaologist examined me, and once again as I was leaving.
Needless to say, I had a prescription for medication as I left the office.
However, I like my pregnant friend still felt horribly guilty about complaining one iota. There were infertile women all over the world who would never get to experience morning sickness, constipation, exhaustion, or carry the miracle of life like I was doing. So who was I to complain about temporary conditions? After a couple weeks of feeling like death warmed over even after receiving medication that to help with my nausea I got over feeling guilty. By golly if I felt wretched and I needed to complain I was going to do it.
And I did. A lot.
Needless to say, I wasn’t a great pregnant woman. I didn’t sign up for this and I let everyone around me know. (Eventually after my son was born I ended up apologizing however to everyone who has to listen to me whine – it’s amazing how quickly we forget how badly we felt when we have a baby in our arms.) Don’t get me wrong I had the glow, that sheen we get to our faces during pregnancy. I think mine however was due to puking and my sheen was a layer of sweat.
Anyhow I digress, yes, you are allowed to complain. The backaches, the constipation, the hemorrhoids, the lack of sex drive, the nausea, the exhaustion, the dull hair, the crappy skin, the leaky breasts come the third trimester, the all over the map emotions, — and while you may experience some of that, none of that, or all of that, it’s not fun. And nobody should ever tell you that you don’t have the right to complain. Just because it took an act of congress to get you pregnant doesn’t mean that you somehow lose the right to express yourself.
And there’s a reason women carry babies not men. No really!
At the end of my lunch with this delightful lady she was giggling, feeling better, had actually eaten a bowl of soup, some crackers, and a piece of cake — I noticed she seemed to be a bit more empowered. I even offered to be her hit lady and take out Nurse Ratchet at her OB’s practice. She laughed and said she’d keep my card:)
So if you feel bad it’s okay. It’s okay not to love pregnancy. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and out of control. It’s okay not to like the fact you give your body up for nine months. Above all, yes you do have the right to complain. Being pregnant doesn’t mysteriously take that right away.
So go on with your complaining self — let’s hear it from the roof tops! Before long labor will be around the corner, and those sleepless night will have begun, If you thought you were tired before your baby was born the exhaustion that occurs during the first year is almost unexplainable. It’s another one of those things you have to experience for yourself.
And if some silly nurse, or your sister, or your mother, or your husband (God help him) has the audacity to tell you that you should be grateful and not complain. I hope you promptly puke all over their shoes.
I really mean that.