I'll preface this with a quote from one of the original interviewees. I couldn't agree more:
"I dunno, I kind of hate pregnancy culture these days. Who gives a shit that you're pregnant? Pregnancy is the most boring, basic, universal thing that happens to almost half of all people since the beginning of time. It's also magical, and I know it's not easy or possible for everyone, so forgive me, but I was not leaning into it, for lack of a better phrase. I did like Googling weird questions, though, and reading pages and pages of dumb answers on BabyCenter.com."
How old are you?
I'm 29 now. I was 26 when I found out I was pregnant, and delivered Van a couple months after turning 27.
Are you married/in a relationship? Single?
Relationship. T and I were together for 4ish years when we became pregnant.
Did you try to get pregnant, or was it an accident?
It was quite a surprise. I had just changed to a different pill that was giving me a bit of nausea in the mornings if I didn't take it like total clockwork. I went off it with intentions to try out a new pill within the next couple months. Only no. I got pregnant right away, within a couple weeks of not taking the pill regularly. It was pretty ridiculous.
How long did it take to get pregnant?
Right away! See above.
How did you feel when you found out?
I was horrified. Shocked. Disappointed. Confused - I still don't know how it happened, to be honest. I didn't (still don't, really) believe in getting pregnant on accident and I couldn't believe I was becoming one of those women!
Did you have morning sickness? When did it start?
Not really. I'd have random moments of queasiness every once in a while during those first weeks, but nothing major.
What were the changes in your body during the first trimester?
Pretty much as soon as I took the pee test my boobs started hurting like mad. I also had to pee all the time.
Describe the feeling of being pregnant to someone who hasn’t been.
I didn't feel pregnant until I was about 25 weeks along or so. At that point I'd liken it to when you have an eyelash twitch or a random muscle spasm. That's what the baby kicking felt like to me...little involuntary twitches in my tummy.
And the changes in your emotions/cravings?
The only craving I experienced was the craving of fresh things. I was in the second trimester during the summer of 2011, which probably had something to do with it. I wanted really cold salads and smoothies a lot. Toward the end, though, I was BIG into mandarins and grapefruit juice. I downed probably a gallon of grapefruit juice every 2 days in the last two weeks of pregnancy. I'd have gnarly heartburn every night, but would still eat 12 mandarins per evening.
While you were pregnant, did you want to have sex more or less than usual?
The same, I think.
Was it harder to have sex because of your belly? What were the adjustments you needed to make in bed, if any?
Obviously having 20 lbs. of baby in your belly is going to change things up a bit.
What was your biggest fear throughout your pregnancy?
I don't think I had any. I had some concerns about raising a child - I was scared that he might be a difficult baby and I'd be exhausted and unhappy and Tony and I would never be able to have fun ever again.
Did you read books? If so, did they help?
I had What To Expect and would browse through it here and there. A friend gave me some others to borrow that I'd flip through if I had a question or was curious about something. I realized early on that the books were mostly fucking insane and alarmist and anti-woman. They all seem to want to convince you that you're some delicate, incapable moron that shouldn't be trusted around cured meats or warm baths. Eff that noise. During pregnancy I tried to picture my grandmothers and other ancestors pregnant with their children - working in the fields all day, cooking and cleaning at night with a baby in their belly and a million other children and family members to care for. I applied the knowledge we've gained about pregnancy as a culture of course (don't over exert yourself, no intravenous drugs, etc. ;)) but basically did what I wanted. within reason.
Did strangers treat you differently when they found out you were pregnant? How so?
It took me a long time to look pregnant. By the time I did, it was nearing sweater weather and pretty easy to hide still. Toward the very end people would ask how far along I was, that's about it.
Did you drink at all while pregnant?
I'm not a big drinker anyways, so not drinking while pregnant was no big deal. I participated in a couple champagne wedding toasts and would have a taste of a friend's wine or some sips of a beer when I felt like it. My sisters made some sangria for my baby shower and I think I had a small glass.
How did your friends react? Did they treat you differently?
My friends were as shocked as I was, I'm sure. My best friend was actually 6 months pregnant when I found out I was pregnant, so she was excited. Another good friend's girlfriend found out she was pregnant a couple months after I did, so that was cool too.
How involved was your boyfriend/husband in the birthing preparation? Did he go to classes with you, read books, etc.?
Not really at all. He is an amazing, AMAZING dad. He thought feeling the baby kick was kinda weird, and really didn't show any more interest than an acquaintance or coworker in birthing preparation. He was happy to be becoming a dad, but had little interest in the physiology of pregnancy and everything that comes with that. He attended the 20 week ultrasound with me, that's about the extent of it!
Did you intend to take drugs during the delivery or not? Did you change your mind about this when you were in labor?
Yes. I knew I didn't want to have the epidural too early and planned to ride out the pain until I couldn't anymore, and then get an epidural. Which is exactly what I did.
How long did the delivery take?
16 hours. My water broke at 5 in the afternoon on the 20th (V's due date). We headed to the hospital at 8, intense pain began at 11, epidural at 3:30 and baby was born at 9:30.
Who was in the room with you?
Tony, the midwife and a couple nurses (I think).
Was your delivery how you expected it to be? (I guess I mean, was it like in the movies?)
No! I didn't expect my water to break out of nowhere. I hadn't experienced Braxton Hicks or any of the other "baby is coming" things that happen to your body shortly before labor.
I also didn't expect the pain to be as intensely fucking awful as it was. In the movies (and for most women, from what I gather) contractions come on and you have a couple minutes of relief before another wave of pain comes on, and they get more and more intense throughout labor. I had some period like cramps for about an hour before I was hit head on with a wall of pain until the epidural shot came. The pain was literally unspeakable. I was in a weird delirium/fog of horrible, horrible pain (period cramps x 1000 would be the closest thing I could liken them to) and can remember nurses and midwives coming in and out and briefing each other on my status. I remember one nurse showing the other nurse a monitoring machine and saying, "Poor thing, she is getting zero rest time. They have just been one on top of the other."
Did you poop?
Describe the feeling of giving birth to someone who hasn’t.
It's intense pressure. You feel like you're completely maxed out physically, and you're having to use every ounce of strength to keep going. It's like you are steps from completing a marathon and someone is jogging in front of you moving the finish line. Or like you're having to place a 75 lb. medicine ball on a shelf above your head that someone keeps notching up as you approach it.
Was it an emotional experience?
Yes. The actual labor was less emotional because every fiber of you is needing to focus on getting through the pain and then pushing the baby out. But once you've delivered that cocoon of focus and adrenaline dissipates and you're looking at this baby that you almost forgot was the reason for all the work!
What did you think when you first saw your baby?
During the actual delivery, I was told to only push every other contraction because Van's heart rate was dropping with every push and he needed time for his heart to get close to normal without me pushing. He was born with the cord wrapped around his torso and neck. I caught a quick glimpse of him before they freed him and took him to another table to clean out his lungs and said out loud, "he has big eyes like me!" As I strained to see him while the doctors were working on him I thought he looked huge! Doctors and nurses had predicted I'd have a big baby - he was 6 lbs 15 oz and 20.5 inches long. Hardly a big baby. All those predictions obviously had gotten to me!
After about 30 minutes of checking his lungs and fishing out a bunch of goop from his little chest we did some skin to skin time. He was the most gorgeous thing I'd ever seen. He was craning his neck to look right at me. He had the most intense and aware air about him. Like a 50 year old philosopher in a newborn baby body.
What was your recovery like?
Not bad. Quick. And you're so into your new baby that everything else is very periphery and unimportant. Van was born on 12/21 and by New Years Eve I was at pre-baby weight. I don't know why. I know I'm very lucky.
Have you noticed any changes in your body since the delivery? If so, what?
I never had an enviable midsection but now it's flatter and lower, if that makes sense. More deflated looking, but not that much different than it was before. Also, oddly, I think my boobs are the same size, but the circumference around my chest is slightly bigger.
Do the changes concern you?
No. I'm the same size I was before, for the most part.
What advice would you give to soon-to-be new moms? The baby is the newbie here. Introduce them to your life, don't stop doing things the way you've always done them just because there is a baby in the picture. Take them places. Pass them around so they get to know and enjoy the company of other people and environments.
Also, babies are adaptable (or at least mine was). I once watched a mother take 10 minutes to stealthily swaddle her already sleeping baby because, "he only sleeps swaddled." Hhmmm. Maybe he'll sleep unswaddled too? You'll never know if you never try. Try! It might be easier for you in the long run (it probably will be). If not, then do it the hard way.
Lastly, you are the boss. Not your mother, not your baby, not your doctor, not your neighbor with a toddler. I knew a baby once that would cry for an hour after his 4 ounces of milk were all eaten up because the doctor told the mom not to exceed 4 ounces of milk every however many hours. The doctor is just that - a doctor - not the boss of you or the regulator of your kid's milk intake. If your baby is still hungry and you're at wits end dealing with your sobbing child (not the doctor, obviously), then give the baby another ounce for Gods sakes. It's your baby!