it’s not cute to complain about pregnancy, but…

back when i was first pregnant, everyone kept telling me how much i was going to love the second trimester. “oh, it’s wonderful,” they said. “your nausea disappears, your energy levels are back up, your belly pops & you look super-cute, people on the street can see that you’re pregnant & they’re really nice to you, but you’re not super-huge & uncomfortable yet. it’s all the good things about being pregnant & none of the bad!”

those people lied.

on the first day of my second trimester, i was felled by a splitting headache. that headache has waxed & waned in intensity but it hasn’t completely gone away & it’s been literally like three weeks! staying hydrated doesn’t help. sleep doesn’t help. snacks don’t help. acetaminophen doesn’t help. laying in a quiet dark room doesn’t help. back rubs don’t help. it’s just a constant headache, sometimes severe enough to mimic all the great secondary symptoms of a migraine (nausea, vertigo, seeing spots).

i suppose my energy levels are back up. that would certainly explain why i can no longer sleep past 5am no matter what time i go to bed. i’m not even in that huge pregnant phase where i feel really achy & uncomfortable. well, except for sometimes when i stretch the wrong way & the ligaments holding up my uterus scream in protest & i have nightmare visions of my placenta detaching & my baby dying. but that only happens like four or five times a night.

i was dicking around in an internet chat room for pregnant ladies & a bunch of women who are freshly-minted second trimesterers were gabbing about how often they had to get up to pee in the night. because here’s another lie: supposedly your uterus rises during the second trimester, relieving the pressure on your bladder. so if your baby spent the first trimester snuggling up on your bladder like it was a damn bouncy castle, supposedly you get a reprieve during the second trimester before the third trimester comes along, the baby takes over all the real estate in your abdomen, & you’re back to peeing fifty times a day.

so these ladies were yakking about how they aren’t experiencing relief yet & are still getting up to pee two, sometimes even three, times a night.

fuck you, ladies.

you know how often i’m getting up to pee? i’ve started keeping track. my average is eight times a night. my record is twelve times in one eight-hour stretch of sleep during which time no fluids were ingested. another record is three times in ten minutes. actually “three times in ten minutes” is become my default setting. sometimes jared goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth or re-organize my collection of bubble baths or to replenish the hand soap & i want to murder him because he is standing between me & two minutes of bladder relief. don’t think i haven’t considered propping myself up on the kitchen sink. if it wasn’t a freestanding relic from when the house was originally built 90 years ago & i wasn’t aware that i’d be fighting in the “super SUPER heavy” weight class if i was a professional wrestler…well, let’s not finish this sentence.

but maybe worst of all for right now is the constant unbearable hunger. & yet, my nausea hasn’t disappeared as promised, so i’m on a constant seesaw of being so hungry that i’m nauseous, & then so full that i’m nauseous, interspersed with a few episodes of making poor food choices & inadvertently devouring something that made me feel really sick. apparently i can no longer eat sugar at all–even the thought of it makes me want to vomit–& root beer is my sworn enemy. root beer! i ordered it a few times at restaurants because it seemed like a healthier choice than regular cola. i was thinking,” no caffeine, that’s a good thing, right?” & as jared pointed out, it has such a healthy-sounding name. aren’t pregnant ladies supposed to be all about roots? but i have never been so sick as when i made the mistake of drinking root beer. i can handle all-natural sodium-free hippie root beer with no high-fructose corn syrup, but anything else is a catastrophe. & ironically, straight up coca cola causes fewer adverse effects than regular old water (which makes me nauseous…i drink it anyway though because i am terrified of becoming dehydrated & somehow giving myself pre-eclampsia, even though i don’t know if there’s a real link between dehydration & pre-eclampsia).

& then there’s the emotional rollercoaster. right now i’m cresting a hill called “oh my god i just HAVE TO KNOW if this baby is a boy or a girl!” i had totally intended to wait until the birth because i thought that’s what jared wanted, & i thought he felt really strongly about it, & i wanted to collaborate with him on something that made him feel excited, & i also trusted that i could rely upon his dedication when i started to waver. & then he let it slip that he really didn’t give two fucks about waiting. the only reason he hasn’t expressed an interest in learning the sex in advance is because he just doesn’t care. i mean, he’s pumped to be a dad & everything, but he has zero feelings about the baby being a boy or a girl & he just doesn’t see the point in finding out in advance, maybe because he thinks it would be extra effort or something? i don’t know if he totally understands that there’s going to be a medically-indicated (ie, covered by insurance) anatomy scan in a few weeks & we can take a peek at the baby’s junk then if we want to.

i’m not proud of wanting to know, because of course i would rather sit on my high horse & proclaim that gender is a social construct & that my baby’s bits indicate nothing about its personality or interests or anything else, that a baby is a baby & i will not have society foisting its expectations upon it before it’s even finished cooking, & i am just too evolved to think for a second that the knowledge of a penis or a vagina would inspire me to feel more connected to the baby. but it’s just not how i feel. i want to know because i think it will help me connect with the baby & i feel like such a cop-out terrible feminist for even thinking that, let alone writing it down in a public space. i also want to know because i am seriously worried that if they lay a dude baby down on my chest after the birth, i will cry, & they won’t be tears of joy. if i am going to have any negative feelings about my baby’s sex (again, i’m SO not proud that this is even a dim possibility, but becoming a parent means confronting some of the worst parts of yourself & dealing with them post-haste), i’d really prefer to process them & get them out of the way well before it is born.

so i guess i’m going to schedule an ultrasound next week & within the next month or so, i’ll know whether i need to buy camo diaper covers covered in naked lady silhouettes or pink ruffled diaper covers to match the glittery fairy wings i will force my lady baby to wear. KIDDING. but hopefully i’ll have an educated guess on the sex.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

One thought on “it’s not cute to complain about pregnancy, but…

  1. hi, Ciara. I came to read your blog via good reads via yr ‘love letters to monsters’ zine… I have an almost-three-year-old and see a lot of your pregnancy posts I want to comment on or empathise with or whatever, but I keep holding back ’cause maybe it’s weird to be a stranger commenting on such intimate things… but what the hell, this time both these things resonate strongly with me so I thought I’d pipe up with some empathy. Even though I found the first trimester hard (unintended – though welcomed by me, but initially not so much by my partner, and at a crap time financially; constant nausea and weird all-over nerviness that meant I didn’t want to be touched; I found it hard to keep up with my job due to the intense tiredness; a week after finding out I was pregnant my mother told me she had cancer again… anyway, I got migraines too, but I only get the aura and not really the crushing headache aspect, so not as bad as you, but it does blind me for about an hour and sap my energy for the rest of the day, and as I couldn’t take my usual medicine that can stop them or diminish them (actually just aspirin) I burned through and beyond my sick leave at work. I was surprised to learn after you wrote about it that most women get less migraines through pregnancy… my doctors said the pregnancy caused my increase – perhaps different with the classical (aura) migraine. Anyway the increased migraines went away for me during the second trimester, but that was probably the only up.
    I always wanted to be pregnant and even though I’d read stuff like ‘Hip Mama’ and so on, I think I had a very naive belief that pregnancy would be wonderful and dreamy all the time… I’d always thought I’d read heaps of books on pregnancy throughout the time too, but ended up giving up in disgust on most at the library or browsing at the bookstore, and just ended up reading stuff online for the most part, but even from that I had built up that same expectation that the second trimester was to be easier. For me, it was harder, just from the physical things and their consequences. The bladder pressure was a big one, and I think it got a bit better in terms of overnight (I didn’t have it as bad as you… sounds like that frequency could drop… I hope so) but it does remain as a general change. I biked as my main transport in those days and found it really challenging to get to work (about a 40 min ride) just because I would desperately need to find a viable place to pee about halfway along my journey, and it was pretty urgent! I developed a pelvic pain called SPD (symphysis pubic disfunction) which turned out to be the hardest (physical) thing with my pregnancy (not counting labour/birth!). It was constantly painful and made walking (which I needed to do some of to get home on public transport after I quickly couldn’t bike anymore). It was just really disabling really quickly. I liked that I was visibly pregnant, for the most part, during this time… I think because I’d been a non-asian looking person living in Japan just beforehand, so had gotten used to being stared at! I dunno… oh yeah and I asked to find out the sex during my 20-week scan for the same reason you are talking about. I really wanted a female child… I’m feminist and anti-essentialist… anyway I was pretty teary and depressed, also a bit of a grump when people heard about it and congratulated me or whatever… I comforted myself thinking of awesome women who had male children… and it kind of helped to think about how much I wanted a brother when I was a kid. just wanted to say you’re not alone. (standard disclaimer about how much i love my kid probably not necessary; of course I do). I still want to have a female child, but I think one of the strong reasons I felt pained about having a boy has diminished, and that is that I (probably quite vainly) wanted a kid who was the most like me, and also like my mum (and unlike my dad), but as it is my kid is hella like me and reminds me a lot of my mum. I have the same conflict as you in terms of my next – intended – pregnancy, in that now i still don’t want to deal with those feelings of disappointment or pain at birth but i do want the surprise of not knowing… plus there’s all the issues about other people’s knowledge and expectations. If it were just me, I’d find out and not tell anyone, but I don’t know if I doubt my partner would agree to that as he loves to share it with his family. Maybe. I do have some belief in the power of pregnancy dreams. I had such vivid early ones of him being a boy; absolutely stunning dreams…I kept trying to deny them because I kept dreaming ‘boy’ (or ‘tomcat’ as it was in one of the most intense!). Anyway, I’d better finish before I hijack your blog.

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