Remember when you were a little kid, and on one very special summer day, your parents would take you to the amusement park? You would get there early, and survey the scene like a conquistador on the shores of a far away land. The possibilities were endless. Sun-baked, and sugar-filled hours would fly by as you spun, twisted, dipped, and flipped your way through the park. And then suddenly, somewhere between the Gravitron and the Tilt-A-Whirl, it would hit you: Sheer exhaustion, coupled with cotton-candy induced nausea, and a fountain of tears as your parents spurred you toward the car for the long drive home. This was my first trimester in a nutshell, but rather than lasting one day, this was how I spent three glorious months.
On what would be the equivalent to the first ride of the day at the amusement park, it became clear I was something of a Joey Chestnut of morning sickness, except for every hotdog he would consume, I would produce an equal amount of morning barf. Most often, my walk to work would trigger my tummy troubles, where I would then deposit my breakfast in what I came to think of as a very hungry porcelain baby bird. “Here ya go, Buddy! I’ll be back in an hour or so!” The worst part wasn’t having to stick my head in a public toilet, but instead having to pull my head out of the public toilet, wipe my red, blotchy face off, and go interact with the public without tipping my hand that I just reverse ate an Eggo waffle with peanut butter. For the rest of the morning I’d be spending equal amounts of energy trying not to gag, and working to keep a 3 foot distance from anybody who may be able to detect the Eggo I’d just leggo’d.
This is Joey Chestnut, by the way. A competitive eater of many things, including hotdogs. Photo from http://www.worldofpctures.com/joey-chestnut/
The body-crushing, brain-melting, fall-asleep-while-standing tired didn’t wait long to settle in either. I punctuated conversations with horrible, drawn out, tonsil-exposing yawns. Yawns that inexplicably, were always accompanied by a single tear, as if opening my mouth wide enough to swallow a grapefruit was putting too much pressure on my eyes. In a confusing twist, sleep didn’t seem to help this hybrid monster of tired. I would wake up in the morning like the Swamp Man stumbling out of the murk, bug-eyed with a gaping mouth, garbling words incoherently. It was all I could do to get through the day before coming home to collapse on the couch, begging my husband for a bowl of cereal and 4 glasses of water. If there really is such thing as a sleep bank, building a baby threw me into the red faster than a freshman coed with daddy’s credit card.
And then there were the tears. Soon after getting pregnant, crying seemed to become part of my daily routine. While it would be gracious to assume the exhaustion and nausea were to blame, in reality I think they were second-tier contributors to a much larger problem: Being pregnant turned me into a 30-year-old toddler. Patience and understanding were replaced with frustration and confusion. Simple transgressions, like say, leaving 1/16th of an inch of milk in the carton and knowingly putting it back in the fridge, would send me into a tearful rage. Because why? This river of emotion didn’t take much to well over when I encountered touching stories, or kind words either. Songs took on a new meaning, and the card isle at CVS became a no-no zone. Even reading the words “To My Beloved Great-Aunt…” in some swirly, silver font could do it.
But with each passing week, we got closer and closer to the second trimester, and to be fair, it wasn’t all bad. We got to hear the babies heartbeat for the first time, which fell somewhere on the spectrum between unicorns singing, and successfully teleporting. We got to see the baby on an ultrasound, and while we couldn’t confirm it wasn’t actually a turtle, it did give us a sense of how real this all was. I also started to get an itty bitty baby belly, which prompted me to take my first ever (and possibly my only ever) selfie. And even more importantly, reaching the second trimester milestone meant: 1). Our risk of having a miscarriage dropped significantly, and 2). Pretty soon, we could post it on Facebook…
It’s an itty bitty baby bump selfie!