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Being Pregnant – What Does It Feel Like?

Baby Clothes, Ottawa, September 2012

When I first learned I was expecting, I looked in the mirror naked and tried to picture me eight months from that moment.

I couldn’t.

I was expecting but I didn’t know what to expect.

Being a methodical person, I hit the web to do some research. However, I found pregnancy-related websites were incredibly depressing—most simply enumerated a long list of potential discomforts and issues that would only get worse and worse. That was not what I wanted to read—I didn’t want to sit around waiting to experience “constipation,” “bloating,” “cramps” or “heartburn.”

I decided to stay away from these “week by week pregnancy calendar” websites. Instead, I simply listened to my body and noted the slow change, as spring turned into summer and summer into fall.

Keeping in mind that everyone is different and that these impressions are subjective, here is what being pregnant feels like for me.

Morning Sickness and Fatigue

Nine months (40 weeks) is a long time. At six weeks pregnant, I thought the world could see I was expecting—but that was just in my head.

I guess the first unique symptom of pregnancy I experienced was morning sickness. I am very rarely nauseous and—get that!—I have never had a hangover, so the feeling was new to me.

Morning sickness is a weird thing. I woke up one day and just couldn’t think of anything that would settle my stomach. It was sudden and strange considering the contents of the fridge had looked just fine the day before.

Soon, I was craving salty stuff—chips, salami, crackers, etc.—and sour foods (think grapefruit juice). I gave in and changed my diet until things got better, about ten days later. Yes, I know, I’m lucky—sickness can last for months. I never puked either, I was just feeling nauseous.

Oh, and there is no reason to call it “morning sickness” because it doesn’t disappear magically after noon. The awful feeling can stay all day long.

At the same time, I was feeling exhausted. Like “I can’t face the day” kind of exhausted. Sure, I’m more of a night owl than a morning person but I do get up easily every day (just not at 6 a.m.). But at the time, the first thing I was thinking of when I was getting up was going back to bed, and I think I could have slept all day long while I usually “only” need six or seven hours of sleep to feel rested.

The Baby Bump and the Pregnant Belly

I am shaped like Mediterranean women or a Latina: I have curves, i.e. hips, a butt, thighs, breasts… Basically, I have an hourglass figure. But I do not store fat in my belly, the way some North American women do. For that reason, I just couldn’t picture myself with a baby bump or a pregnant belly. I didn’t even know what it could feel like to be honest.

Baby bumps do take a while to show. Of course, I noticed the slightest bulge, but the rest of the world didn’t. At first, it disappeared completely when I was standing or sitting, and would only show when I was lying on my back!

As the baby grew, so did my belly, but because I’m pretty tall (5’7 or 1.70 m) it didn’t pop out much.

I felt the difference though. First “duh” moment: a pregnant belly is hard—just imagine a small ball and then a balloon there. Well, yes, it’s not fat but water with a baby growing inside. Pregnant belly also change shape because the baby is moving. When we were in New York (I was 6 months pregnant then), I would walk by a window and look at my reflection: “eh, I don’t look pregnant!” And an hour later, I would be like “oh, now I do!”, simply because my belly seemed to be more noticeable as the day went by.

The uterus expends quite a lot and presses on other organs—there is only so much room inside! It makes eating and drinking difficult because your stomach is compressed. I often joked that I would eat one green bean and feel it for hours afterward. It’s even more true now at 35 weeks pregnant.

Feeling the Baby

I can’t say I had an “ah ah!” moment when I realized I could feel the baby move. It came little by little. First, I felt something inside, like little bubbles. I also felt Braxton Hicks contractions—your belly tightens up suddenly and feels very hard. These contractions are painless and don’t last, it just feels strange at first.

Later in the pregnancy, the baby’s movements are much easily felt. Like these days, I feel like 1) the tumbler of a washing machine 2) a punching ball. The baby’s feet are right below my ribs and I can actually see my belly moves when it tosses and turns. Sometimes, when it punches me, it feels like a vein pulsating. Oh, and it reacts to loud noises too! I clearly remember the first noise-related start, when we were in London in August. It was funny actually, we were both startled at the same time by some Olympic Event going on (I was 7 months pregnant back then).

I’m sure every woman is different and each experience is unique though, so do share! And if you don’t have kids are new to the whole pregnancy thing like me, I hope it helped you.

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