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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There are things nobody tells you: That your belly will itch so much it feels like the prickle is on the inside. That when traffic makes your husband an hour late, you'll have the phone in hand ready to call the police, absolutely positive that he's become a paraplegic in a five-car pileup. That your "morning" sickness will happen at night and last for more than six stomach-churning months, and your husband's breath will smell like rotting meat. Then you'll do a Google search or pick up The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy and realize that the warnings were there all along, but your eyes had skipped over them, that you can't understand what it means to be pregnant until you are throwing up into your purse at the mall. Until, that is, you are living it yourself.
Even then, there are phases of pregnancy you couldn't possibly have anticipated, like when the sidewalk can resemble a comfortable place to nap and how at first you can't tell whether the baby's kicking or you just have indigestion. Nor can anyone really describe to you how your body and heart suddenly will feel full of purpose and promise. How the fact that you're cooking a baby who will undoubtedly have the funny ears that run in your husband's family and the impossibly long eyelashes that run in yours—that you're creating an ancestral DNA of your own!—trumps every annoying, weird symptom that comes along. People forget to mention how this mysterious little person will keep you company every hour of every day, banishing every notion of loneliness for the unforeseeable future, how even though you've yet to meet, you'll love your growing baby with a ferocity that makes Superwoman look wimpy, and how glad you'll be that your body knows how to make eyelashes without consulting you.
At first your pregnancy is a delicious, almost licentious, secret. Then you start to show and find yourself a member of a club that you didn't know existed, part of an underworld of intimacy among moms-to-be and moms-that-are. You are privy to details about other women's labors, the ones that lasted 36 hours and the ones so abrupt that the baby emerged in a shower stall. Co-workers who never looked twice at you now smile at your burgeoning belly and tell you about their grown children. The gruff man at the deli slips an extra pickle in your order; the teenager at the check-out counter carries your bags to the car (embarrassed at the way your body is a visual reminder that yes, you've had sex); and your across-the-street neighbor pats your pointy belly and predicts you will definitely have a boy (you know it's a girl but don't have the heart to contradict her).
And no one ever tells you that when the morning sickness finally passes, it seems like someone washed windows you hadn't known were dirty, every color more vibrant, every object more distinct. You feel strong and resolute and find yourself skipping down the street. You delight over your new bra in the larger size and the cute string bikini underwear you've bought to go with it (no maternity panties for us, thank you). You swim at the Y under the smiling gaze of seniors doing water aerobics and accept the compliments when people admire your glow. Because you are: You're glowing and beautiful and elated, and your husband is painting the nursery and your body is taking care of the eyelashes. Pregnancy is the time of your life, holding, at the end of it, the promise of something sweeter than you've ever known.