Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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I’ve had it planned for months, the way I’m going to tell my husband. Well, it’s not quite planned, but I know I am going to do something clever and memorable, possibly involving skywriting or a kangaroo costume. At the very least, I’ll lean seductively over a candlelit table, take his hand and muse quizzically, “So what do you think of the names Jack and Samantha?”
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it goes down. As I stand holding the plastic stick with my peed-upon fingers—the stick with the two pink lines—my whole body breaks out in a sweat. I blink hard several times and continue to stare at the lines. I reread the test directions for the 13th time: “Any line, no matter how faint, indicates pregnancy.”
I pace frantically around my living room for about a minute, then call my husband. “I’m in a meeting,” he tells me. “Is it important?”
“I’m pregnant,” I blurt out, hating myself for my utter lack of creativity but feeling incapable of carrying the burden of this news solo for another nanosecond.
“I’m on my way home.”
We go to Barnes & Noble and buy the entire How to Make, Carry, Give Birth To and Raise Happy and Healthy Children section. The very first thing I learn is that I am twice as pregnant as I think I am! Not two measly weeks, but four whole weeks—practically a month, nearly a tenth of the way there. This is going to be a piece of cake. The next thing I do is decide that I am not going to get morning sickness. It is mind over matter, and I am so in tune with my body that I am just going to will it to feel fabulous.
The supreme force in charge of bodily functions apparently finds this hilarious and proceeds to teach me a little lesson I call “Morning Sickness Is a Big Fat Lie, but All-Day-Every-Day-Sickness Is Very, Very Real.” By week six I am practically crippled by nausea, which I fight by eating. To women who aren’t pregnant this would seem absurd, but when you have All-Day-Every-Day-Sickness (of the Non-Vomiting Variety), eating seems to help, at least temporarily.
By now I’m guessing that my other resolution—not to gain more than 25 pounds over the course of my pregnancy—may not be in the cards, either. When it comes to the weight-gain issue, I desperately want to be normal and not obsessive, though neither of those traits is in keeping with my personality. When I finally get on the scale in week nine, I’ve gained 4 pounds. Considering the sheer volume of food I have put away in the past few weeks, I am not that horrified. Sure, the prevailing wisdom contained in my arsenal of pregnancy books says you may not gain any noticeable weight until around the fourth month. But I’ve always been an overachiever, so I jokingly tell myself that I’m ahead of the game. (I’m so normal and not obsessive, I can’t stand it! This clearly calls for an ice-cream sandwich.)
By week 10, though I’m not yet sporting the telltale belly, already there are a few things I love about being pregnant: the incredible bond I feel with my husband. The way red meat tastes. Not having to suck in my stomach. Cleavage. The idea of creating human life. Permission to eat and sleep regardless of the time. Surfing the Internet for cute maternity clothes. Dreaming about baby names. Cleavage. Relinquishing the litter-box duties. Mentally designing the nursery. Fantasizing about all the “firsts” to come: first bath, word, tooth, steps, family vacation, Nobel Prize. Cleavage.
Here’s what scares the hell out of me: the possibility of complications. The probability that my size 10 feet may grow a size ... or two. The sight and smell of chicken. The fear that all the muscle I’ve built over the years will turn to flab and that the past two years of tennis lessons will have been a waste of both time and money.