Being pregnant is the first step towards getting your motherhood mojo and, if you pay close attention, you'll see it's God's way of telling you that life as you've known it is soon going to be over. As I write this as a mother of a three-year old, I realize I don't remember much about my pregnancy. This loss of memory is common, and probably evolutionary — it allows women to attempt a second or even a third child.
I may not remember all the details of my pregnancy and my experience with childbirth, but I can confidently say that the whole process is one where you rapidly lose control of your faculties, dignity, self-respect, sovereignty over your body and eventually life in general....
Pregnancy is the first time you realize that you may be as brilliant, well read, educated and professionally accomplished as the next man (and better than many), but you're not a man. For many of us brought up 'like a son' by our parents, this can be quite a shock. If you're pregnant, your body is on a mission to make sure you confront the differences and learn to really, really live with them.
Pregnancy brain or 'momnesia' is a real thing too. I am sure there are complex, scientific reasons at play here but, to put it simply, you feel and act rather dim. They say you'll go back to your old self a few months post-partum, but you don't — my son is now three and I continue to function on less-than-full mental capacity. Quite recently, as I readied the boy for school, I chased him around the house for about seven minutes just so he'd let me zip his pants. Then I went all the way to drop him to school, with my own jeans unzipped. As someone has wisely remarked, women trade perfectly functioning brain cells for children.
As your belly grows, so do your problems. In the rare event your tummy or back or swollen feet allow you to sleep through the night, your bladder will wake you up. In the third trimester, the baby begins to treat your bladder like a stress ball and the effects of that never quite go away – my ability to hold it in on long train journeys was legendary but now I can barely make it through a half day in office.
The good thing though is that all of this is for your own good. The poor sleep now prepares you for the months that lie ahead and the constant peeing is to make up for all the times you won't be able to once the baby comes along. Post-childbirth it's nearly impossible to sneeze without peeing just a tiny bit and given how little time new mothers have to themselves, that's how most of us empty our bladders in the first few months of motherhood any way.
As if it isn't scary enough that you'll have to somehow push a human out of you, you also need to worry about not having any marks to show for it. Stretch mark creams must be religiously applied and while I don't know anyone whose stretch marks were helped by them, they do help with the crazy itching. The backaches and exhaustion get worse over time as you become even bigger and your centre of gravity shifts. You are now routinely accosted by strangers who 'just know' that your baby is a girl or boy and want to touch your belly.
Pregnancy brain or 'momnesia' is a real thing too.
All this while your husband – the one who is also having the baby apparently – goes about his business, completely unaffected. Pregnancy is the one time the aches and pains are all your own and even the most supportive spouse can only be an annoyance.
Of course there are some upsides. You can use your growing belly to scare people away — crowds in a busy shopping mall will often part like the sea for Noah when they spot a baby bump. Many people recoil in fear as if you'd pop the baby right in their face, any second. A pregnancy is also a great excuse for things you don't want to do or want to do but never had good enough reason to. You probably shouldn't but you really can eat for two now and then fart freely. You can also stay on the couch all day with your feet up, avoid boring parties, family events and irrelevant work meetings, never answer the door or your mother-in-law's phone call. No wonder they call it a magical time.
All this magic, of course, must build up to a magnificent grand finale, and that is the 'miracle' of childbirth. And a miracle it is — a miracle that I have lived to tell the tale.
As someone has astutely observed, labour pains are so bad that you can almost imagine what your husband goes through every time he has a headache.
Edited excerpts from Stop Licking My Arm by Amee Misra, exclusively available on the Juggernaut app.
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