Maternal Instinct: What Is Happening to My Body?
Words & Images by Cecile Davis
Editor's Note: We will be regularly following Cecile's journey as she becomes a first time mom to see what her experience is like after miscarriage. You'll find her posts on our blog once a month.
No matter how much you read or how many sisters or friends have babies, nothing can prepare you for the crazy shit that happens to your body.
Full disclosure: I have not been eating as “well” as I should and definitely not watching my portion size so I’m currently 5 pounds over weight and still have 2-ish months to go. So my body is hurting a little more than your average juice-drinking, kale-eating, yoga body, pregnant lady.
In this post I’m going to unpack all the weird things that have happened so far, things I never expected and some things I knew would happen, but still felt surprised when they did.
What is that, you ask? It sounds like the latest prescription anxiety medication, but it's really a hormone produced in your first trimester and then again in your third, that increases cardiac output, increases blood flow, and relaxes ligaments. Basically, softening everything up to make room for that child you're growing inside you. Pretty cool, right? Well, yes, except for the fact that if you have to stand on your feet all day your joints feel like they're on fire and if you need to bend over more than once a week your lower back is, like… uh, no. The cure? Epsom salt baths have become my best friend, along with stretching, swimming, and gentle massages from my hubby.
Are those my ankles?! What were once dainty and slim are now on par with the size of my calves! UGH, and ankles aren’t the only things weirdly expanding: why aren't my favorite gold, pointy toe flats fitting anymore? Oh right, because my feet have grown half a size. My hands seem bigger too, but that might be psychosomatic, I mean, all my gloves are fitting OK.
No, that's not a 2 month long cold you’ve got, those sniffles are due to higher amounts of estrogen that can contribute to swelling in the mucous membranes lining the nose. What’s more, the amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy, which may cause swelling in the tiny blood vessels in the lining of your nose and congestion in the surrounding tissue. So, yeah, I'm pretty much a full time mouth breather now.
Baby on Bladder
Oh, has it been 10 minutes? I’d better go pee! Either my bladder has shrunk or maybe it's all the water I’m forcing down my gullet (side bar: WTF is up with the way water tastes?! I used to love getting hydrated, but lately, yuck), but whatever the cause, I have to pee all the time.
In the beginning my cravings were all over the place, from meal to meal, snack to snack, but now it's all mango all the time. Mango, lemonade, pickles, and cheesesteak subs. I’m trying my best to be good and keep the cheesesteaks to a minimum, but I am overweight and I can’t help but think a little more willpower over my cravings could’ve helped.
I’ve never felt such a need to eat exactly what I want when I want it. I think it's because so many things taste different and weird and I have had quite a few aversions that I feel like I can literally go with my gut and eat what tastes good. I’m sure I’ll pay for it during labor and post-delivery when I’m trying to shed the pounds, but for now, bring me a trash bag full of mango!
I’m running out of word count space to continue with my litany of complaints, so I’ll keep it brief as I wrap it up here. Rolling in and out of bed, like an adorable panda bear. Being out of breath from walking ten feet at a brisk pace. Gas pains and generally being farty all the time. Oh, yeah, stretch marks. Wondering if it's socially acceptable to wear pajamas to business meetings. Crying because you’ve been watching Parks and Rec and you love Amy Poehler more than your husband.
And I’ll finish with this, despite all the complaints, aches, and pains, being pregnant is wonderful. I feel so much joy every day at the little life inside me and would suffer ten times worse to go through this experience.
Cecile is a photographer and filmmaker living on Maryland's rural Eastern Shore. She specializes in artistic and highly emotional wedding coverage. Her husband and two dogs are expecting the arrival of their first human baby in April 2017.