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Pregnancy Isn’t Always Pretty

Pregnancy Isn’t Always Pretty

You know those moms who love every minute of being pregnant? The ones who glow from day one, claim pregnancy gives them extra energy, and at 40 weeks their profile resembles a stick figure with a basketball stuck under their shirt?

I hate those moms.

Obviously, I don’t hate them OPENLY because that would make me look petty and small. Instead, I smile and nod as they go on about how they’ve never felt better. Then at night, before I fall asleep, I hope that one of their feet will grow two sizes while the other stays the same size.

That can actually happen. I saw it on Ellen.

You may be saying to yourself, “I thought Jennifer was so nice. Why would she wish ill on these mothers-to-be?” I don’t really. It’s just my way of coping with the reality that I DON’T DO PREGNANCY WELL. There is no part between getting pregnant and leaving the hospital that I enjoy.

With my first pregnancy, I had “morning sickness” (which is really all-day sickness) until week 16 at which point I was exhausted and uncomfortable until it was over. My hair and skin were greasier than they ever were during my teens. I was constantly cranky and bloated and in the final few weeks I began retaining water at a rate even my doctor couldn’t fathom.

This is a woman who has seen literally thousands of pregnant woman in her lifetime and everytime I would get on the scale she was like, “I don’t understand how that’s possible!”

And those are just the symptoms I’m willing to share. Trust me, you don’t want to hear the rest.

Lest you doubt my sincerity in this matter, here is some photographic evidence.

We Had No Idea

Here is a photo of me at four weeks pregnant. My husband and I are enjoying the last vacation we would ever have with just the two of us and blissfully unaware of the fact that I was about to blow up like a beached whale. Notice how “put together” I look here, ON VACATION. I’ve fixed my hair despite the fact it is 110 degrees outside. Ahhh. Those were the days.

Now here is what I looked like 36 weeks later. Like I said, pregnancy was not kind to me.

There are relatives I haven't shared this picture with.

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison.

It isn't pretty.

Before you begin writing a comment about how I am lucky to have the ability to get pregnant, and there of plenty of women who would kill to go through 40 weeks of pure torture if they could have a baby, I know. I was one of those women. It took us three years of trying to conceive my daughter. We chose not to use fertility treatments, but we had already submitted adoption paperwork and attended all the classes before I discovered I was pregnant.

So I get it. Pregnancy and childbirth are miraculous miracles and I’m lucky to experience it. Of course, I LOVE my daughter and I love this little nugget I’m carrying now. They are both TOTALLY worth it. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t acknowledge that for me, pregnancy is hard and uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.

It isn’t all rosy glows and exciting butterfly kicks and that’s okay. Because the end product is sooo worth it. You really do forget it all as soon as that tiny bundle is in your arms. If that wasn’t true, we’d have a lot more only children. πŸ™‚


View Comments (27)
  • Check out RCM’s Facebook page πŸ˜‰ PS. The pedicure note is the best part!

  • Ha! I think my least favorite part of pregnancy is the part I’m in now, where I can’t fit into my clothes anymore but I don’t look demonstrably pregnant…just like I’ve eaten way too many donuts.

    • I’m right there with you Anna Claire. Yesterday I walked around all day with my top jean button undone and didn’t even realize it! I can still fit into my jeans but they are just a bit too tight at the top. I was driving and unbuttoned thinking I would rebutton before I got out of the car. Then I promptly forgot. Spent all day like that!

  • I didnt even look pregnant when I was. just fat…and my feet are still as big as they were then and my hands are stil huge. Wedding rings still don’t fit and my baby is 3 1/2.

    • When my daughter turned 3 I just had my ring resized. I figured my hands are just going to be bigger. When they told me my original ring size was a 5, I almost cried. πŸ™

  • Don’t feel like you need to make apologies for admitting that pregnancy is not a bed of roses. Pregnancy is extremely hard on the body, moreso for some women than others. I don’t do pregnancy well, either. It sends me into depression and all kinds of hormonally-induced mood swings. And I still look at my body now and think about how both pregnancies changed it for the worse. I console myself with the thought that this was the price I paid for my two wonderful children and that my genetics, plus two c-sections, just don’t allow me to look like those women who have had 4+ kids and manage to look like they never had any.

  • Love the article Jen!
    I think you are a beauty…forever and ever and always!

    • Thanks Tanya πŸ™‚ You know you’re one of those moms I wished bad stuff on don’t you? I’ll never forget when you visited and Sophie was 6 months old. We went to the beach and I thought, “Well, look at her. She’s had two babies and she’s in a bathing suit. It can’t be that bad.”


  • Pregnancy sucked!!!! It just does NOT like me and I don’t like it not even a teeny tiny little bit….and I have friends who try and try to get pregnant and can’t…we barley tried,some who’ve had multiple miscarriages, and friends who said they feel their best ever when pregnant…so I’m the crappy negative ‘ungrateful’ party pooper friend because I was sick the WHOLE time!! Spent months hung over a toilet or a bowl because I was too tired to run to the bathroom, lost sooo much weight had to get a PICC line after several hospital admissions. I dreamed of peaceful, empowering home water births…got a very traumatic birth, with extremely rude hospital care topped with 4th degree tear that still is painful 2&1/2 years later and a c-section scar that I can’t stand for even the top of my underwear to touch much less the extra tummy pudge that sits right on top of it and forget trying to exercise it away because just trying to sit up to get up off the couch feels like I’m ripping in two (again)…..So Great!! for you if your pregnancy is all sunshine and roses!! but it’s not that way for everyone, I am still grateful for my 2 beautiful children whom I dearly love….but also grateful for having my tubes removed so I don’t ever have to experience that crap again…..hang in there momma… beautiful baby will be here just in time and onto more happy days of enjoying precious lil one instead of incubating them…

    • Chelle, I can’t even imagine. I’m so sorry your birth experience wasn’t what you had hoped for. I only had a 2nd degree tear and I still feel it not quite two years later — I just can’t imagine a 4th degree.

      Jennifer — how’s this for a pregnancy symptom: you know how many women get to experience the joys of all this new/extra hair, specifically facial hair? Yeah. I grew a stinkin’ beard. A BEARD. Ok. not a man beard, but some serious down-like hair (sideburns, bottom of cheeks, down the neck!) that could be seen in photographs. Ugh. Also, ew.

      • Oh lord. I don’t THINK I had that problem. Maybe I did but no one told me πŸ™‚ There’s also the mask of pregnancy which I had never heard of until my sister got it. There is A LOT they don’t tell you until it’s too late!

  • I’m glad that you shared your thoughts on the less than perfect side of pregnancy. I’ll never forget how everyone mentioned morning sickness but somehow had forgotten to tell me about the complete exhaustion. I don’t think I have felt energetic since my first trimester- and now my son in 2.5. We are starting to think about having a second, but I’m concerned about juggling two kids. When I imagine my family with 2 kids it makes me happy, but I’m also happy having one great kid that I love so much it’s hard to think about having 2 sometimes. does that make sense? How about an article about the decision have a second kiddo?

    • Monica – I was actually writing that article (and having the exact same internal conversation you are having now) when I found out I was pregnant! I’m still going to write it (at some point) but obviously, it will be a little different now. I definitely understand not feeling like you could possibly handle two when one is a struggle (and mine at 3.5 is still a struggle). I also think there is much less stigma to having just one than there used to be but there is still a feeling by a lot of people that one child would be lonely and maybe spoiled. Writing that article is definitely on my to-do list.

    • Monica – I am actually pregnant with my third child. I have 2 boys, ages 3 yrs and 17 months (they are almost 21 months apart; my 2nd and 3rd will be almost 22 months apart). It can sometimes get exhausting, but seeing them play together makes it all worth it. Oh, and my third is also a boy…so my husband and I are hoping that all 3 will be best friends and look out for each other. We planned them close in age since I was 37 1/2 when our first son was born. Right now it’s hard for me to imagine handling 3 children, let alone all boys, but you learn to manage. I’ve heard that going from one child to two is harder than going from two to three. But if I can handle two, anyone can! Just think positive! Good luck!!

      Oh, and fortunately for me, I’ve never experienced morning sickness. They say every pregnancy is different (although that’s not the case for me), so I hope you don’t have it if you decide to have another! My boobs do get really huge, though, and they’re big already. It’s also hard for me to find clothes because I’m under 5′!!! I know that’s nothing compared to what other women go through, but I’d want to be one of those women Jennifer “hates!” :o)

  • I cannot wait to read that article ! My husband and I have struggled — REALLY struggled — with whether or not to have another child. Our son is 4 1/2 and I think we’ve finally realized that as much as we would love to have two children, it’s just not in the cards. In addition to fertility problems and “advanced maternal age”, I have many health issues that would not necessarily *prevent* me from having more kids, but would certainly make life much, much more difficult. Add to that a whopping case of PPD with my son that I cannot fathom experiencing again. I’m an only child, my mom is an only child, and now it looks like my son will be an only child. Unfortunately, every time I start to feel comfortable with my decision, someone (95% of the time, a woman) will make a comment about how I just can’t DO that to my child, or ‘if you make a commitment to have ONE, you need to make the commitment to have TWO’, they’ll be spoiled, they’ll be lonely, yada yada yada. I feel like people have become so politically and socially correct in most things that they say, but somehow it’s still OK to criticize someone for the number of children they have and they feel comfortable asking complete strangers WHY they would ever have just one child. I don’t get it. I have finally realized that other people — not my husband and I and our son — are the ones who are the most uncomfortable with our decision to have just one.

    • Laura,

      I have one child, and feel the EXACT same way. I see a lot of moms, being a Children’s Librarian. I get the polite questions as to how my daughter is doing, and then I get The Advice from a lot, once the door has been opened. The Advice says I am not a good mom because I am depriving my child of a boon companion and playmate. The Advice frowns when I smile, plaster a sticker on one of their kid’s hands and reply that one is enough for me and my husband. The Advice lets me know I am doing something wrong. Here’s the caveat: I hear just as much disapproval from the same people about women who have four or more children. How dare they drain resources? Surely they are forcing the older children to take up the burdens of parenting by caring for their siblings. It’s a crowd displease r either way.
      I was told I might not be able to get pregnant. When I did, I was over the moon. Then, I took the voluntary blood screening and got a phone call that “something was wrong.” I was terrified. Beyond terrified. From then on, I saw a fetal-maternal specialist and had regular tests and ultrasounds. My husband and I both dreaded and were comforted by these visits. As the pregnancy progressed, it was discovered that there were other complications. I wouldn’t be allowed to deliver naturally, because it could kill one or both of us due to arterial “notching.” So I had a C-section. I feel like I was issued a karmic get out of jail free card, because our little baby, though small, was healthy and didn’t require a stay in the NICU. I am so lucky to have her, and to be here for her. So understandably, I am very scared about having another. While there is no guarantee that it would happen again, I feel secure in my decision to keep my family at 3. She’s happy, healthy and to my mind, well-adjusted. I’m so proud of her. If I were to try again, I would also face “advanced maternal age” as well as being labeled high risk. I just don’t feel right about that, and if those around me can’t understand, I’m fine with it. They’ll live their lives, and I’ll live mine.
      Thanks to everyone for sharing. It’s meant a lot to me to read what you have to say.

    • I’m so glad you (and Mandy and Monica) shared your thoughts here. The truth is, I think this is a conversation more and more women are having whether it’s internal or with their spouses or friends and family. As population growth becomes a real issue, women wait longer and longer to start families, and especially during tough economic times, having one often JUST MAKES SENSE.

      Still, there is a tremendous amount of societal pressure to have more than one child. I definitely felt it and as one of three very close sisters I put it on myself. I didn’t want my daughter to be an only child because I wanted her to have the experience I did growing up but to be honest, even with a sibling she may not have that experience.

      I’ve put that article back on my priority list because even though my debate was kind of taken out of my hands, obviously there are plenty of others who are still struggling with it.

  • You go girl! I agree on the pregnant thing not my favorite thing, thing. And I do love the end result, but I could skip the weeks of torture. Buuut that said, after having a colicky baby I was willing to do a few more weeks pregnant if the the little sweetie would come out a little more baked and happier. πŸ™‚

    • Well, don’t get me wrong. This article was just about what I don’t care for during pregnancy. I haven’t forgotten how hard the first few weeks were. That’s just a different article.

  • Well #1 was a surprise to us. And just when I got over the horrendous morning sickness I got pregnancy induced gallstones, only my ob blew off my symptoms. They got so bad I went to my family doc & was diagnosed, too late for surgery until after my son was born. So I was miserable. We tried for 4 1/2 years before our second son was born. My ob forced a c section based on what turned out to be a very inaccurate ultrasound that showed him to weigh 3 lbs more than he actually did. Recovery was a nightmare and 2 1/2 years later I still have trouble with the scar. Although I will say that pregnancy was much easier. Well surprise I’m about 1/2 way through pregnancy #3 – still shocking to me! I am super nauseated still, anemic, & miserable. On top of taking care of an almost 9 year old and toddler in the midst of terrible twos. Just praying for a vbac.

    • Brittany – I too ended up having an unwanted c-section (after 24 hours of labor) which I blame on being induced due to an inaccurate ultrasound. I am also praying for a VBAC and not feeling like my current doctor is super supportive of that. Hopefully, I’m wrong but we’ll see. I sure hope you are seeing a different OB than the one who blew off your gallstones. Good luck!

  • I am with you– I did not enjoy pregnancy very much. I just felt like my body was out of control. I was large, my head looked like a basketball, and my face broke out something awful. The second pregnancy was much better, but I am happy that the pregnancy experience is far behind me.

    Hang in there, girl!

  • Holy cow, I love you for this post. lol Even though I’m only 11 weeks, I have friends who are pregnant as well and are already boasting about how great they feel and whatnot. I’m just sitting here barfing and surfing the web (obviously). Thanks for the candid thoughts! πŸ™‚

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