Pregnancy test : positive. Now what?! An invasion of emotions of all kind; varied advice and beliefs will accompany the waves of all the upcoming changes. What shall we expect? To answer some of your questions, here’s a little guide of the 9 unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy.. starting from my own.
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #1 : You should have a baby! (or not?)
How do we decide if and when to have a child? Today, it is not so much a social obligation.. or so we like to think. It is generally accepted that a couple decides in conscience not to have a baby, or to have it “later”.
Or is it? Don’t we ever so often ask our friends, colleagues and neighbors the most hated question : “When will you finally decide to have a baby?”
Cultural factors can have a great influence. And I think that these reasons behind the choice, as well as the values and images we associate, sometimes unconsciously, with pregnancy and parenthood, will influence somewhat the way we are going to live this moment (our own snapshots of pregnancy and parenthood so to speak).
Among our friends we were the first to have a child, while in France, we were quite on the average .. (and fertility rate actually confirms this difference : in France, it is the highest among the countries of the U.E., followed by UK (which has a rate similar to the US; in Italy it’s the lowest; women also have children much later in Italy than elsewhere in Europe). Why? What are the underlying reasons behind this choice?
Socioeconomic factors, cultural reasons, state investments to support families and facilitate the resumption of employment on the part of parents .. it deserves a separate article!
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #2 : A girl’s dream
When I was a child and played with my dolls and Barbie, I was not very original: my stories of Barbie and Ken always saw them falling in love, getting married, possibly living in a castle, and having many children. From time to time they quarreled of course, but nothing serious.
My favorite book was “Little Women”; and I wanted to be like Jo: to be loved by her Professor, to found a school with accommodation for children without parents, and to live with a dozen kids. I was a child, I did not wonder why all this attracted me..
My eyes shone with this idyllic vision of happiness, without any other neither pragmatic nor philosophical complications, .
Growing up, a fear was instilled in me: what if I do not find my Professor? How can I make my biggest dream depend on someone else? Maybe I need to find another dream! And besides, you have to be independent, to earn a living ..! All these thoughts came afterwards .
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #3 : Perfect happiness
Nevertheless, that day, a Tuesday morning at 7 am, 6 years ago, I read the positive result of my pregnancy test .. And for a moment, this moment that precedes all the rational thoughts and the consequent emotions, I lived an instant of plenitude. A feeling of accomplishment, an absolute happiness.
Just one second. But if I concentrate hardly enough, I still feel it deep inside me.
Then there was unbelief, and then fear, agitation. What do we have to do? Who to tell? How and when? I was half-sick because of a cold, the day at work was catastrophic, and I hid this secret in me, that dazed smile from within.
Do not believe that all this was perfect Heaven! It was one day 🙂 Now that I have gained a little perspective, I find that the pregnancy prepares well enough for the life of parents that comes after. For example, it prepares to go to the doctor every two minutes.
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #4 : The doctors
Before that famous Tuesday, I hardly knew my doctor. I think I’d seen him maybe twice in two years? Suddenly, I had constant medical appointments. All this happens little by little, to give you for another moment the illusion of control over the situation.
At one point, I found myself from being a girl without wrinkles and with free time to fill in (like : we had even taught our kitten to sit down and jump at our command ..) to a woman with a filled agenda. Physiotherapy for back pain twice a week, blood exams plus gynecologist once a month, and then the preparation for childbirth, and then ultrasound, the blood glucose test (on that, I’m not going to tell you anything, just to leave you a little surprise!)
And inside me, I was thinking :”Hold on, just a few more months!” Crazy right? How we can just be mistaken!
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #5 : Collective interests
There is another thing that fascinated me. As soon as my belly became visible, many unknown people spoke to me. In the street, at the park, at the gym .. My belly was either too big or too small; I ate too much or not enough; I should not have rode my bike, or on the contrary, it was great I should have done more!
Everyone felt free to share their comments with me – and I thought that was fantastic, a way to bring people together. I even made girlfriends like that.
What I found incredible was the endless number of theories and opinions about everything surrounding pregnancy and babies: what to eat or avoid; the weight that should be taken; the lifestyle to hold; how much sleep you need to take (to recover the sleep that I would have lost then .. as if one could make a sleep tank!) Absolutely fascinating.
One evening, I still remember, I forced myself to go to my drama class (I followed, at the time, a theatrical improvisation class .. but as soon as the signs of pregnancy were stronger, it was getting harder and harder fro me to get there).
In short, despite my tiredness after the day’s work, the stomach ache because I digested nothing at all; I went. I met a girlfriend of the course, about forty years old, and we made a piece of road together.
She was amazed by my belly, and told me, very sincerely, how she found the pregnancy a magical moment. (Which is true in itself). But I was bent between a stomach ache and a backache, and I probably would have just wanted her to understand me in my distress ..!
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy- #6 : The belly
The body becomes something strange, we are no longer the masters of. On the one hand, it’s easy to imagine, everything changes, and quickly enough. Breasts swell (good for me, who did not have a big chest to start with, that was a bonus!), the stomach is struggling to function as before. We don’t even want to eat the same things anymore..
I could not believe it : at two months of pregnancy, it was the chestnut season. Now, I’ve always LOVED chestnuts. But really, I could eat a ton of them.
And there, all happy, I buy a bunch of them at the local market, I roast them .. And then, I taste one .. Nausea. I gave it a second shot.. Nope. I had to avoid them all season. And that really bothered me you see?
Because, in my head, they were delicious, but my body refused them. In reverse with other things .. A little as if my body and my head were no longer part of one thing.
The belly begins to swell, and then, suddenly, we start to feel it move. A little like when you do not digest well and your intestines grumble.
I had called my baby little Alien (we didn’t know the sex yet) because really, I had the impression of being inhabited by another being (which was the case indeed ..)
There were movements and noises .. I remember that around 6 or 7 months of pregnancy, I started to feel regular, rhythmic shots. I spent months wondering why, until I realized it was the baby’s hiccup. It’s crazy, isn’t it ?!
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #7 : Everything’s perfect
I mean, I can describe all that to you; talk about it for days; but there is nothing that prepares us to live it!
How many differences, you will not find two women who tell you their experiences in the same way.
I think I had an extraordinary chance. See, I always pictured myself as a mom. Maybe it was our society, maybe the biology, maybe I was born like that, whatever. Yet, I did not have to wait years to become one. It was fast enough.
So, I didn’t have to worry about that, I didn’t read much, nothing at all. I lived the pregnancy quite serenely, discovered it as it manifested itself along the way; with its positive sides .. and negatives too.
Probably, today it would not be the same. Maybe, I would have tried to compare it to my expectations (like my friend Ichiko, if you’ve read her story).
I had not started reading my books on psychology, and child’s development, and so on (something I regret a little, but everyone does his course). I was naive. And sometimes I felt a little caught off guard..
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #8 : All parents struggle. But in different ways
During our prenatal class, we were with other couples; there, too, was a variety of attitudes. The worried, the zen, the gadgets’ lovers ..
There were some who wanted to avoid hearing all the details of what could have happened during the delivery. They were afraid of it and just preferred general guidelines.
And of course, those who wanted to go through all the possibilities, minutely; those who had already bought the vacuum diapers disposable system .. anyways. Everyone was getting ready in their own way, that’s what’s beautiful.
One night, I remember, we started to read together the list of things that the clinic had suggested to us to have ready in our maternity bag. A list that seemed so long to me! And then, full of words that I didn’t know in French .. What was a gigoteuse ?! And what’s the use of a brumisateur?
I remember my despair, not even finding any valid result in my French-Italian dictionary. Fortunately, about that time, my husband had a new colleague who just had a baby, and who was able to illuminate us!
But how would you describe this slight anxiety that takes you, when a whole group of people speaks with cognition of cause of something that you don’t have any clue of ?! It was the same with the names of the medications and creams .. I was totally lost.
Just like when my boss started asking me if I wanted to breastfeeding. He asked me this question many times, and I really didn’t understand if he wanted to be impertinent, if he wanted to get ready for an eventual extension of my maternity leave, or if he was really interested in me and my baby. ..
You feel sometimes judged for your choices
That’s it finally :
as soon as the pregnancy is announced, everyone feel legitimate to expressing his opinions, according to his interpretation of your behaviors; and to determining what type of parent you will be. Like : will you be able to provide society with a child who will grow into a “useful” adult?
Are you too tired? Do you keep doing some sport? Do you get to rest, but not too much because hey, pregnancy is not a handicap?
The best part, for me, were the discussions around the epidural.
By the way : I say all this in a somewhat amused tone, because I’m not immune either, and I find this aspect of humanity very interesting!
For the line between demonstrating a sincere participation versus a prior judgment is sometimes quite subtle.)
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy – #9 : Natural birth
Epidural therefore. In Italy, depending on the hospital and its resources, it is not always possible to have it. According to the statistics I found, we go from the 77% of women in France who give birth with an epidural (for free) to the less than 10% in the south of Italy (the figures vary according to the region).
In France, one can choose, and one makes an advance visit with an anesthetist. I met a lot of mom who were absolutely opposed to it, for different reasons but overall because they wanted a birth as natural as possible. But I have also had the opportunity to talk to women who have asked for cesarean section just for fear of natural birth..
The hidden fears
My position was rather in the middle: having no idea of the pain that I could have felt, I told myself that I would have preferred to be meeting my baby in “good conditions”. I said to myself .. If we can avoid suffering, and get to the same result, why not?
To really tell the story to the end, while I was in labor, my daughter got stuck in a position that hurt my back extremely bad. It wasn’t even the contractions; the pain was constant and intense. I’d just started, and already, I couldn’t take it any longer! It was about 2 o’clock in the morning.
As soon as the nurse appeared, I asked for an epidural. She looked at me from the door, without getting close, and then, “There are, of course, ways to ease the pain, but first of all, you have to make this path of acceptance of the pain, let it go inside you. Let’s see you in a few hours. “
WHAT??? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. No but, I assure you, I have fully accepted my pain, welcome you pain, now please, if you could release me.. But nothing to do, I had to wait 2-3 hours .. At 5 am, this relief allowed me to fall asleep a little (my daughter was born at 9 am ..).
Was the nurse right? Or did they just have too much work to look after me at that moment? She really thought that I had to suffer a minimum, because otherwise, what kind of childbirth would it have been? Mystery.
Don’t underestimate the costs! One last resource
I let this part for last; but of course, you’ll find yourself categorized according to your buying behavior:
Do you buy everything upfront, of do you wait until you need it?/
Do you buy second hand, or do you look for the top brand?
What about organic fabrics and environmentally friendly paint?
So many choices that will define your parenting profile from the start!
As every country works differently in this respect, I’d rather not go into the different specific costs you might face.
But you might want to read the full report of the costs of raising a newborn in the United States, as published from LendEdu.
The rightness of your choices
Why do we feel obliged to judge all those who don’t do how we’d expect? Perhaps, by judging our differences, we seek to confirm the rightness of what we do ourselves.
As if there were a duality between right and wrong, and that different ways of doing and behaving couldn’t coexist in this world.
We still feel that when people disagree with our way of seeing things, then they can’t truly accept us and love us.
In any case, if I can draw useful conclusions for any expecting parent : keep your irony and calm. No need to control everything, there are so many variants and possibilities anyways ! But if observed with sufficient lightness, you will live many situations that will make you smile, at the very least. And besides, stress is bad for the baby! 😉
What are, or have been, your fears related to pregnancy and childbirth? What unusual things did you experience or are you experiencing right now? Tell us in the comments!