Emma Bartley writes about the ten things she definitely didn't sign up for when planning to have a baby
What to Expect is all very well, but I don’t remember reading anything about the possibility of being left with grey skin “down below”… read this before you conceive.
1. Propriety goes out of the window at mealtimes
According to the books, you need about 300 extra calories a day in the second trimester of pregnancy and 500 more in the third. It doesn’t feel that way, though. It feels as if you need about 3,000 calories a day, and you want them in refined carbohydrate form. There are times when I would trample over a small child to get to the last biscuit.
My finest hour was the day my husband’s grandmother died. We spent the day at his parents’ house with his mum, waiting for news from his dad, who was at the hospital. Snacking was not on anyone’s mind that afternoon, so by the time we procured an Indian takeaway at about 8.30pm, I was starving.
Just as we sat down to eat, we got word that this very big character had passed away. There followed a flurry of phone calls as my husband and mother-in-law spoke to various family members, getting information and passing it along. I, however, had no one to call and a lot of great-smelling food in front of me. I should have waited, but instead I gobbled. I gorged. I thought not of Nana, but naan. By the time the bereaved had returned to the room, there was about one third of our three-person meal left for them to share between two. “I’m so sorry,” I told them. “I don’t know what to say. I think there’s still a bit of Peshwari.”
2. That “lustrous hair” - it’s everywhere
Extra-thick hair is one of the few bonuses promised to pregnant women. Read the small print, however, and it says: “may appear on stomach, nipples and bikini line”. My friend’s eight-month bump was suddenly covered in downy white hair (why?) and when we checked mine to compare, we found that stretching had caused the unfortunate “crab ladder” to evolve into a crab labyrinth.
Neither is this a time when you’ll feel comfortable enlisting a professional waxer. Ever tried pre-trimming your pubes with a beach ball attached to your midriff? Perilous.
3. You may be left wanting more, not less, sex
While a lot of women can’t stand the sight (or smell) of their partners during pregnancy, the hormones can also send you the other way. Call it oestrogen, call it the instinct to cling desperately on to your mate and the memory of a normal life – please look away now if you’re reading, Mum – I basically wanted sex every day. If my husband isn’t as keen I worry that it’s because my body has changed, or he only sees me as a mother now, or he’s having an affair. Probably all three. *Weeps*
Still, it could be worse: one of my pregnant friends is just as up for it as me, but is now so fat as to be inaccessible. She cannot physically do it any more. Who warns you about this? Nobody.
4. You can gain an awful lot of weight in nine months
My friend isn’t alone. Take a look at some old pictures of Kate Hudson, who gained five stone in her first pregnancy. Or even better, Jessica Simpson. They should use pictures of Jessica Simpson pregnant to sell condoms.
5. You’ll have a cold for an entire trimester
AHEM. AHEHEHEHEHEHEHEMMM. HEM. Sorry, that was my “pregnancy cough”. I’ve had it since January. I’ve tried everything – vitamins, rest, paracetamol, moderate exercise, antibiotics – but I cannot kick it. Apparently this is a thing: your immunity is lowered. It is seriously boring.
6. Your skin might change colour… down there
My friend recently noticed in a mirror that the inner labia of her vagina had turned a dark, purplish colour. After Googling the problem, she learned that this is to do with the extra blood volume you have in pregnancy (up to 50 per cent more) – that area can become engorged, causing it to look like “a pound of liver”.
Apparently, this can become a permanent situation. One woman even wrote on a messageboard that hers had gone grey – as if it had died.
This sort of information is why I don’t Google any more. This, and the guy who was online asking if anyone knew of any bleaching creams that would help restore his wife’s natural colouring.
7. The bump doesn’t deflate like a beach ball after birth
Maybe you knew that, but hadn’t heard it as brutally as my friend gave it to me. “Measure your bump now [at seven months],” she said. “That’s the size it’ll go back down to after you’ve given birth.” This news is depressing in the extreme.
8. You’ll lose your short-term memory
Where are my keys? Since being pregnant, I have absolutely no idea most of the time, even if the answer turns out to be “in your hand”. Still, I comforted myself, at least I was still able to function well at work – it’s just the little practical details that seem to slip my mind. That was until last week, when I promised to complete some work, a regular freelance project I have, for a 9.30am deadline on Thursday. And also forgot to check my emails for that whole day, meaning that I missed the 20 messages I got from my boss with subject lines like “Where are you? CALL ME NOW”. I didn't tell this employer that I was pregnant as I didn't want to lose the work, so when they phoned me on Friday morning, sounding surprised I was still alive, I really didn’t want to go: “Sorry – preg head!” So I told them I was… jetlagged. Yeah. I know.
9. You’re expected to have a view on Bugaboos
And iCandys and Cossattos and McLarens. They all look and cost basically the same, but apparently if you get the wrong one it will ruin your life. Oh, and you have to order it at least two months before you need it, so you have no idea what said life will be like once you do.
10. Some of your friends will ditch you
The ones who are too young for kids, or never want kids, or really want kids but are struggling to have them, will shun you. When you’re waiting for a bomb to go off under your work and home life, you could do without this. But it’s understandable. Who wants to hang out with the teetotal, hormonal, tired-at-10.30pm, constantly complaining spreader of cough germs and grabber of last helpings?