The Motherhood Conspiracy: The Bizarre Pregnancy Facts No One Ever Told You About

by Michelle Meacham

 There is a conspiracy going on, probably around the world, but at least around the United States.  Human pregnancy is not just about morning sickness, people patting your belly, and picking out baby names.  It’s also about a whole host of completely bizarre occurrences no one ever tells you about.

 They don’t tell you about this weird stuff because it would freak you out so much, you might seriously reconsider joining the ranks of the gestational gender, and forget about having babies.  This would deprive these Motherhood Conspirators of the sick pleasure of watching the uninitiated join their ranks.  Sort of a maternal hazing, if you will.

 But before you read on, take this brief quiz to see if you’re part of the conspiracy (in which case, you can skip the rest of the article since you’re already in on it), or if you, like so many others (like me), have been kept in the dark for far too long.

 True or False:

1)     Pregnancy makes your feet get bigger.

2)     Morning sickness happens only in the morning.

3)     After you have the baby, bunches of your hair fall out (before the stress of parenting even kicks in).

4)     A dark pigmented line running down your belly shows the doctor or midwife where to look for baby as he/she grows inside of you.

5)     Only fathers fear the impending loss of freedom (and sleep) and increased responsibility the baby will bring.

 

Rate yourself: 

1 - If you answered TRUE, you are correct.  This unpopular change seems to be a flattening (thus, lengthening) of the feet as a result of the added pressure and strain of the extra weight of pregnancy.  At least that’s this author’s theory.  No one seems to want to talk about this one.  It’s a highly confidential conspiracy factor. 

2 – This one is a resounding FALSE.  Morning sickness can happen in the mornin’, in the evenin’, ain’t we got fun?  It can also happen anywhere in between, or during all of the above.  It’s a sign that the hormones needed to make a healthy baby are working right, but that can be small consolation when your insides feel like mush and you’d give anything to feel normal again. 

3 – TRUE, believe it or not.  You are likely to lose large amounts of hair shortly after baby arrives, due to changing hormones, but it’s not a substantial loss in the long run since you probably weren’t losing as much hair during pregnancy as you usually do.  However, the stresses of parenting probably start kicking in even before baby is born, as you start to dwell on how you will handle various parenting responsibilities, so maybe that’s a factor too. 

4 -  TRUE, mostly.  This one is really wacky.  The dark line down your navel really does appear, but there is no medical evidence to prove that it’s to help the medical professional find the baby.  That’s just sort of a funny coincidence.  It’s probably really just another goofy hormone thing.

5 – FALSE.  Moms can be equally stressed about the impending life changes, and this one is not just due to hormones.  Birth of a baby is one of life’s major stressors, so it’s not realistic to expect all feelings related to the experience to be positive ones, all the time.

 So how’d you do?  If you correctly answered two or more of the questions and have not shared your knowledge with a potential mother-to-be, you are one of the CONSPIRATORS!  Shame on you!  If you correctly answered less than two questions, you better read on.  You deserve a crash course on the dirty details of this magical thing we call pregnancy.

 One of the foundational bits of knowledge you need to come to terms with is that pregnancy is not neat, clean, and sweet up until the moment your water breaks, as you may think it is.  It’s actually a fairly messy business all along.  From the potential puking of “morning” sickness, to the  “mucous plug” coming out, this experience is not for the faint of heart. 

 Where to begin?  Perhaps working from the top of the anatomy down will be most efficient.  Just remember, the experience is always different from woman to woman, and even from pregnancy to pregnancy (another thing that may be a surprise to you!).

 First, there’s the hair loss thing.  Then, many women have odd pigmentation and other skin changes that make their faces blotchy and funny looking.  Thank goodness this one is temporary! 

 A somewhat more serious seeming change is in eyesight.  Many women find their vision off-kilter during pregnancy, so don’t run out to get a new prescription if your eyeglasses seem to not be meeting your needs while you have baby in tow.

 In the same general vicinity, even after the morning sickness subsides, heartburn may persist for the duration.  Some don’t experience this till the bitter end (i.e. month nine), but others deal with it on an ongoing basis.  Those little TUMS become mom-to-be’s best friends!  A good side effect of this one is the extra calcium those supplements provide. 

 On the outside of those inside aches, your breasts are likely to feel more like lead balloons than sexy swimsuit enhancements.  For some, a sore chest is the first sign of the new life inside, making your front super sensitive even before exhaustion and tell-tale morning sickness kick in (if these symptoms happen at all).

 We’ve already talked about the pigment line down the belly, but other changes to the belly may be more commonly known.  Stretch marks, itching, growing so far out you can’t see your feet.  Wait!  This one’s misleading!  Most people can easily see their feet at any point during pregnancy, just by leaning over far enough.  Touching the toes may be another thing, but even that is not unrealistic for someone who started out fairly limber.  What you CAN’T see, once baby protrudes out a fair amount, is the vicinity from which baby was, um, created, and from which he or she will come out.  The bikini line becomes a distant memory for anyone short of contortionist skill levels. 

 While we’re in this area, another misleading point is the “pregnant woman running to the bathroom every five minutes” thing.  Sure, you have to run to the bathroom every five minutes, but it isn’t necessarily because your bladder is full.  It’s just that your bladder becomes compressed as flat as a pancake by your growing uterus, so when you have to go (even if it’s just a teeny teaspoon), you have to go NOW or it will eek out when you least expect – or want – it to.  For example, when you sneeze, cough, laugh, move too fast, whatever.  Also, when you do make it to the toilet, it comes out rather like water out of a garden hose, when you’ve placed your thumb over the spout to make it spray more intensely.  This one can be almost amusing, if thought about in a twisted-humor sort of way.

 OK, just a couple more.  Are you up to it?  Everybody knows about the significance of the “water breaking.”  You know, when the placenta ruptures and the amniotic fluid escapes, signaling the impending arrival of Junior.  Everyone’s fear is that this will happen dramatically, in front of a crowd, at work, or in some other equally embarrassing situation.  Did you know that just as commonly, your water doesn’t break but contractions begin, in which case (and for various other reasons), the doctor or medical professional comes at you with a long tool with a curved hook, pretty much exactly like a crochet needle (but sanitary, we can assume) to manually break the “bag of waters.”  This is really much less awful than it sounds, since the placenta has no nerves, so no feeling, but it’s never comforting to see a tool like that being directed toward that part of your body. 

 Even before concerns about water breaking arise, pregnant women are told to be on the alert for the “mucous plug” to dislodge.  Blech!  This one even sounds gross.  The mucous plug is pretty much what it sounds like, a plug of mucous at the entrance to the cervix that basically keeps things hygienic and safe for baby’s little world while he or she grows inside of you.  Before labor begins, the mucous plug comes out; thankfully not with a champagne bottle type pop, but more with an unceremonious, silent slip.  This is somewhat related to the generally increasing “stuff” that comes out of you as labor nears, and things start shifting around.  ‘Nough said on this one.  Ask your medical care professional for the gory details on this if you want to know more.

 One more for now (this does not, by any means, exhaust the complete list).  Hemorrhoids.  During and after pregnancy, many women learn first hand what these things really are.  All that extra pressure and the pushing of delivery mess with parts that aren’t really even related to the reproductive system.  They’re just more unsuspecting victims of your body’s massive transformation to accommodate the new life being formed during pregnancy.

 You might think from this disgruntled sounding exposition that pregnancy isn’t worth it.  Absolutely not true.  Even with all of these odd, sometimes really uncomfortable side effects, pregnancy is a miracle from the moment of conception.  True, some of the details could be shared with high school assemblies as an effective means of birth control, but it’s a miracle nonetheless. 

 If it made your skin turn purple and your hair turn green, it would be worth it to feel the little guy (or gal) swishing inside you like a happy fish, then later knocking on your insides like a mini-carpenter as he or she gets too big to do flips.  Then there’s the freedom of watching your belly grow well beyond its typical boundaries, and being comforted that it’s a sign that the baby is growing (instead of worrying about adjusting your diet, like you would at any other time of your life).  Plus, your fingernails and hair grow at exponential rates, you don’t get your period (although you do sort of make up for that later, with postpartum “lochia”), and people express concern for you like never before. 

 This is not even to mention the first time you hear the heartbeat, or see an ultrasound picture that makes it all real.  If the sheer amazement doesn’t take your breath away, it will likely bring a tear of joy to your eye.  Indeed, pregnancy is a blessing – albeit full of challenges – that cannot be taken for granted, no matter how many women have experienced it or how many years it’s been happening over the course of history.  When it happens to you, it may as well be the first time it’s ever happened in the world, because that’s the kind of impact it has on your life.  And that’s even before the baby is actually born!

 So there, Motherhood Conspirators.  The secrets are out!

Michelle Meacham
mimi_meacham@yahoo.com

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