By Tamara Schroeder

Early in my first pregnancy, my husband found me sobbing on our bed when I was supposed to be taking a nap. He asked what was wrong, and I thrust a magazine article I’d been reading toward him, in which the uncommon side effects some women may experience in pregnancy were outlined in great detail.

“I don’t want weird dark patches of skin to grow on my face,” I sobbed. “Or random tufts of hair.”

Fortunately, I (mostly) escaped without either (nothing that a good pair of tweezers couldn’t handle anyway). These were the rare, unlikely aspects of pregnancy I didn’t really need to worry about.

Most of us have probably read an article or two outlining the more common pregnancy truths (Excess gas! Weeping uncontrollably during an episode of Looney Tunes!), but there are a few things those women leave out. So here are some of the more common pregnancy truths most of us will experience in one form or another.

Pregnancy Truth #1:

Random strangers will comment on more than just your weight gain (originally titled “Some people are unintentional boneheads”)

It’s become typical for strangers to offer unsolicited comments about a pregnant woman’s size (but try doing that to someone who’s ordering a Frappucino and suddenly it’s inappropriate). “You must be ready to pop any day now” or “Are you having twins?” are among common offenders.

Then there are also the people who feel the need to draw attention to the host of insecurities that are developing with your growing fetus. Such as my gigantic, fluid-packed feet during my first pregnancy, that prompted one concerned older woman behind me in line at Walmart to comment, “Oh dear, do you realize your feet are swollen?”

Wal-Mart. I was the most noteworthy character in a large cast at Walmart.

But perhaps my favourite encounter was early in my first pregnancy when my mom and I were shopping in a baby store and I excitedly commented that I couldn’t wait to find out the sex so I could start buying clothes.

Cue blond woman, appearing from nowhere and proclaiming loudly enough for the entire store to hear: “WHY would you want to find out what you’re having? When you’re in the delivery room, the ONLY thing that’s going to keep you going, is the anticipation of finding out if it’s a boy or a girl.” *snort of disgust*

My actual reaction: Stunned silence.

My internal reaction: “Really? Because I was under the impression the one thing that would keep me going is the HEAD THAT IS CURRENTLY BARRELING ITS WAY OUT OF MY HOT BOX.”

Pregnancy Truth #2:

40 weeks is a really long time to go without raw fish and hard liquor

“It will go quickly.” “It’s a small price to pay for the life you’re growing.” These are the platitudes spoken by the same well-meaning people who can pour themselves a scotch as soon as they’re finished trying to make you feel better. And if it’s your partner offering these words, you’ll want to scream, “Well if it’s not that bad, YOU do it too.”

You will inevitably feel some envy and resentment as everyone toasts on New Year’s with a glass of your beloved bubbly as you sip sparkling apple juice. And every occasion after that when you witness a friend or co-worker crack open a cold beer or order sashimi while you settle for a dynamite roll.

Pregnancy Truth #3:

You won’t give your baby webbed feet if you do some squats.

I mean, your baby might have webbed feet but it probably won’t be because you exercised during pregnancy. My mother and mother-in-law’s generation were told that they couldn’t exercise safely while pregnant. But then, my mom’s doctor also seemed to think it was perfectly normal that she was eating dutch ovens full of mashed potatoes and gravy in one sitting.

We’re taught differently about nutrition and exercise now, however you’ll still get comments and side-eyes from people who believe differently. Don’t let it slow you down.

I ran a 5k race on the day marking my 37th week of pregnancy. I didn’t do it to show off. I did it because I was already fighting severe anxiety (again) and my doctor told me to run for the endorphins and stress relief as long as I comfortably could (she was the one who told me about the race, for the record). If your pregnancy is healthy and your doctor hasn’t given you any yellow or red lights, do what you need to do (within reason) to make the time as enjoyable as possible. It’s far more socially acceptable and lauded than walking around with a full martini glass (see above).


Pregnancy Truth #4:

You won’t give your baby webbed feet if you drink 16 ounces of coffee daily

Please don’t write me letters or file a class action lawsuit if you drink a grande medium roast every day and your baby actualy is born with an extra toe. That being said, the recommended daily intake of coffee in pregnancy is about eight ounces. I drank twice that on a regular basis once my aversion passed. I have two normal, healthy, albeit highly, highly energetic offspring.

In other words: you’ll follow some rules of pregnancy to the letter and others you’ll bend and stretch based on what you’re comfortable with. As long as it’s within reason (note: drugs and excessive alcohol are most certainly NOT within reason), your baby will in all likelihood, be fine. But inevitably there will always be someone in line behind you at Walmart to judge your decisions.

Pregnancy Truth #5:

It really does have to come out of your lady garden

Once you get over the initial excitement of choosing names and colours and outfits with matching blankets, your mind will start to wander toward actual childbirth. For roughly 34 weeks of your pregnancy, you will convince yourself medical science will discover a more dignified, less painful way to get your baby out by the time you’re ready to deliver.

They won’t. It’s coming out one of two ways. It hurts, it’s gross (or as Chandler from Friends eloquently put it, “That’s one disgusting miracle), and I certainly wouldn’t choose it as a regular form of weekend entertainment, but you’ll get through it.

Pregnancy Truth #6:

You’ll survive childbirth, but you won’t forget it

At least I haven’t in the past two years and I drink more wine than the national average. Before I had kids, I read an article that claimed some magical hormone is released in a woman’s body after childbirth to help her forget the pain (or something to that effect). If it’s true, I’d love for it to kick in. Obviously you won’t conjure up that kind of intensity on a day-to-day basis, but like the song “Ring of Fire,” once you’ve experienced the real thing, it’s not something you can get out of your head that easily.

mom and babyBut it’s definitely worth it!