I am lying in bed at 8pm trying to write an article about pregnancy symptoms without falling asleep. “Well, that’s fitting,” grins my husband, Colin. Too true. So let’s get right to it so I can snooze! Here are:
12 odd symptoms from my first four months of pregnancy:
Seriously?! For reasons of increased blood flow and volume, pregnant lady noses get puffier and sneezing happens. What a silly symptom!
2. Not looking pregnant.
It is highly inconvenient to take 6 buses a day like I do and be 4 months pregnant, but just look a little randomly chubby. No one gives up a seat to a randomly chubby gal like they would to a pumpkin-bellied preggo.
Apparently for a first pregnancy, it’s normal to not “show” until 5 or 6 months! As my father mused upon learning this fact, “Sheesh — This makes me realize that so many people I talk to each day could be pregnant, and I wouldn’t even know!” Mysterious women… :)
3. Food hatred in months 1-3.
The stereotype of pregnant women is that we crave crazy stuff like pickles and ice cream on a bagel or something, but the most shocking and common pregnancy food symptom is actually food aversions: suddenly hating a food so much (often one you used to love) that you will throw up if you even smell it.
For the first three months of my pregnancy (oh that notorious first trimester), the only thing I could eat was bland bread products and dull dairy. Vegetables made me ill to even look at, which was sad to realize on the day Colin cooked us two quarts of veggie stew.
Even my beloved avocados became evil. Nooo! This was particularly terrible for me because I am known for eating EVERYTHING. Suddenly becoming a horridly picky eater, my identity was shattered! Luckily, I’m back now to avocado (and general all food) love.
4. BUT, if you don’t eat, you throw up or pass out!
Meanwhile, despite feeling crazy nauseated, there’s a counter-intuitive first trimester pregnancy trick: The only way to feel less like throwing up is to eat. (Something about the stomach acid.) This is why you see early-stage preggos with packs of bland crackers on hand at all times, nibbling like rabbits without pause.
Now that I’m out of the first trimester and into the second, I don’t get nauseated, but I turn dizzy and incoherently, abusively irritable if I don’t eat every 90 minutes. Luckily, Colin has the metabolism of a 14-year-old boy and has mentored me on how to pack snacks in a daily “feed bag.”
5. Crying at dog food commercials.
Yes, this happened. Ditto for ads involving the armed forces, telephones, and of course, families. Colin has gotten seamless at passing the tissues.
6. Changes in personality and interests.
I am snappier and more of a jerk now than before. (Partly because I’m constantly hungry and tired!) I also feel less motivated in some pursuits, and more in others. In Colin’s words, “It’s suddenly really unpredictable what you’ll need and want at any given moment!”
This puts me in mind of a fabulous recent New York Times article called “You Won’t Be the Person You Expect to Be.” Read it if you get the chance! It’s about regular people, not preggos.
7. Extreme fatigue.
I am very tired: a kind of tired I’ve never felt before, which stretches from head to toe and bears a dreamlike inescapability like gravity. Our fetus is eating all my nutrients and slurping my energy! And yet I still suffer from…
8. Foolishly thinking you can still do everything like before.
As I lugged my giant backpack alone through Toronto, Canada for the TBEX Travel Blog Conference last week, I muttered amid gasps for air, “Wow — It was pretty dumb to think I could keep the same pace of solo travel as before incubating life.”
And yet I’m still saying “Yes” to opportunity after opportunity because I don’t want to miss out! And emails begin piling up in my Inbox…
9. Love for glowing screens.
Given my level of fatigue and hunger for information about this crazy process, my iPhone has become a dear friend, as has Internet TV.
Nearly every pregnant woman I know now has the iPhone app that compares your fetus’s size each week to a different fruit or vegetable. (We’re currently at Turnip!) I’m also lapping up mindless iPhone games like Candy Crush Saga and TV shows like “Scandal” and “The Mindy Project.”
I felt guilty about this until I read an online message board with an all-caps message by a woman with two toddlers: “First time mothers, if you feel like resting and watching a show, DO IT, because once your first child comes, that won’t be an option. For those of us without the luxury to rest, please take it and enjoy it!” Don’t mind if I do.
You’ve heard that pregnant women have a heightened sense of smell? Well get this: My nose is now able to tell if someone has been drinking any alcohol in the past 24 hour hours because they now exude a metallic odor to me! This was not pleasant to realize on a Saturday morning Zumba class when all the other ladies were sweating out their Friday night debauchery.
11. Not horridly missing the things you can’t do.
I’ve addictively ingested coffee every single day for ten years, but in my first trimester when I decided to give caffeine up (not mandatory, but recommended), it was surprisingly easy.
Same goes for quitting alcohol, sushi, soft cheeses, green tea, deli meats, hot dogs, and all that. I’ve enjoyed them all my life and will do so again, but 9 months is a tolerable time to shift things around in the name of building a human.
12. Need for my partner.
I am an extremely independent woman, having traveled around the world alone for a year. And yet– oh, Biology, you sneaky thing! — I really, really need my husband to be nearby as often as possible now! When he leaves for something, I feel a little “ouch!” in my gut.
This makes me wonder how intense it must be to be pregnant and not have a steady partner nearby. Sometimes Colin says, “I feel like I’m not contributing enough!” and I reply, “You have no idea how much you’re helping, just being here!” It makes a huge difference.
There you have my 12 most jarring pregnancy symptoms so far. Are they as odd to you as they’ve been for me? If you or someone you love has been pregnant, what would you add to this list? They say every woman is very different… I look forward to reading your comments.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!