Despite treating women throughout their pregnancy and having done obstetrics as a medical student where I delivered babies there are still some things I am shocked by in this glorious debacle called pregnancy.
I honestly thought either “that symptom wont happen to me” or “it can’t be that bad” – but hello empathy – I get it now and no exposure to my patients, stories from friends or literature in the books could have prepared me!
The top 10 things I’ve been shocked by in pregnancy so far:
- The fatigue – are you kidding me? The first trimester is crap and “they” say it get’s better – who is “they”? Are they lying so you have a false sense of hope? Are they men who haven’t done this? It doesn’t get better people – the need to constantly nap or shut your eyes for a second at your desk doesn’t really improve.
- Nausea in the first trimester –NOT OK. I don’t want to talk about it too much because it makes me all emotional and ratty – but feeling like you’re on a shoddy boat constantly with a churning gut is not a pleasant experience. You have a constant hangover without the excellent stories and dance floor antics from the night before. I treat a ridiculous amount of women with this issue but the persistence of the symptom shocked me! And to the poor man who I gagged in front of because I suddenly realised I could not handle blood or wounds (and still can’t which is really practical for a GP – NOT!) – please know it was the nausea not me who made that awful dry retching sound in your face when you showed me your sliced fingers.
- The aches and pains – hello back and pelvis ache after I climb the 2 bloody stairs at work.
- The shortness of breath has killed me. From day dot I’ve been panting when I walk the dogs and try to chew my husband’s ear off (he’s enjoyed the pregnancy immensely so far!). But seriously – I knew about it but now actually understand it.
- The breast changes – I knew all about this – but when you look down and see these huge things growing with darkening areolas and enlarging nipples its completely crazy! For a lady who didn’t wear bras all the time- this has been a huge lifestyle change!
- The belly touching – old man on the train no you cannot touch me without asking. You may not feel the baby kick, but I’m a great kick if you don’t take your hand off. I thought the t-shirts women wore saying “don’t touch” or “hands off” were full on before – but ladies, I get it. What’s with the invasion of personal space by strangers?
- The kicks – when I’m trying to do a pap smear and have a repeated kick in my right pelvis like someone’s trying to burst out of me it’s kind of distracting. But the kicking (especially at night in bed) is such a phenomenal feeling that nothing I’d heard from pregnant women prepared me for it – and I absolutely love it!
- The sex drive – I know it can go up or down. But when they say up– they mean up. And that’s all I’m going to say. Total shock.
- I’m utterly shocked by the smells and flavours I love at the moment. Artificial banana flavor (Nesquick, banana paddle pop, banana lollies) is my hero. And I love going to the underground supermarket car park for the smell of rubber/oil/I don’t know what – but even writing about it makes me crave it – is that weird?
- The love you feel for something you haven’t seen, met, held or touched yet. I have this full heart for a being that I have only dreamt of and seen on a screen and I feel like my heart could explode at any moment – that’s shocked me most of all! The sudden desire to not go 1KM over the speed limit or change lanes too many times on the freeway because now I’m keeping our baby safe too – that sudden “I’m a fierce mama bear” attitude comes very quickly!!
So there are surprises galore throughout this journey. Despite knowing about the body changes and kicking and fatigue as a doctor – until it happened to me I realised I lacked some serious empathy before. So when I see pregnant women now and they say how tired they are as opposed to thinking “gosh it can’t be that bad – soldier on lady,” I’m saying “I hear you – do you need time off? Do you need a bed? Shall we take a nap together right now?” – ahhh good old empathy (and a cheeky lunch time nap- Seriously!!).