By Lauren Chval
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With wit and charm, columnist Lauren Chval shares her unexpected and rather unpleasant experiences during her first trimester of pregnancy.
Pop culture representations and mythic understandings of pregnancy had misled me.
Of course I’d heard of morning sickness, but apart from that pesky aside, I was under the impression that pregnancy was an amazing time in a woman’s life. “Magical” seems to be the word most often used. You have “a glow” about you. You’re a goddess of fertility. Your body is doing what it is meant to do (they say almost threateningly).
Let me assure you that I do not have a glow. Lest you think I’m being self-deprecating, I’ll offer some proof: I went to see my longtime masseur last week and revealed that I was expecting. “Usually I can tell when women are pregnant because they have a glow,” he said. “But you have more of an … exhaustion.”
He’s not wrong.
The only media portrayal of pregnancy that accurately captures how I feel is that bit from “Twilight” when Kristen Stewart’s character is carrying a half-vampire child that’s physically draining the life from her.
The most shocking betrayal of my naive conception of pregnancy was the first ultrasound. TV shows had led me to believe that cold goo is squirted onto your stomach and then the doctor moves the wand around your skin to reveal the baby on the screen.
Not so! When the fetus is that small, the wand is inserted into the vagina to capture the image. It is no more pleasant than it sounds.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but feel a kernel of resentment toward my husband as he sat opposite me, staring at the screen with the faintest hint of tears in his eyes. He was seeing our baby for the first time as a wholly positive experience, unburdened by the discomfort of having a machine thrust inside his body. For him, this was magical. For me, less so. I’ve heard prostate exams are a bummer, but at least men don’t have to undergo them to catch a glimpse of their unborn child.