what they don’t tell you

Posted: November 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I woke up sick today. Again. Ever since Friday morning I have been feeling fairly ill. Nothing bad enough to keep me from going about daily activity, but enough to feel blah and wish for the couch, some hot tea, a nap, and a good book. I needed those things today. I woke up feeling worse than the previous few days and continued to feel more under the weather as the day progressed. One of the many bonuses of pregnancy – getting sick again thanks to a lowered immune system.

When pregnant with Makenzie, I read the Jenny McCarthy book Belly Laughs.

I wish I had gotten pregnant first…and was famous enough to get such a book published…because I SO would have written that exact book myself. I cannot stand how many things people gloss over or ignore to make pregnancy this beautiful, magical, glowing, love-every-moment-I-want-to-burst-with-joy experience.

I think pregnancy contains many blessings, most obviously the child at the end and being a part of creating another person. You still won’t find me sugar coating the nitty gritty, though. That is why when Nicole of Making Good Choices asked me to include a “What They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy” post in my Q + A series, I happily chose to oblige. My top ten list of things they don’t tell you, but would be nice to know…some previously shared, some new.

10. The mood swings. Yes, we have all heard about pregnancy hormones and the mood swings that accompany them. Until you experience them though, you really don’t understand how debilitating and embarrassing they truly are…because of course they occur over the most ridiculous matters. And even more frustrating, you know the ridiculousness, but can’t stop it! Like crying in an IHOP because they no longer had the Carrot Cake pancakes you craved and didn’t get to try.

That totally didn’t happen 2.5 years ago. And people totally didn’t stare. Totally.

9. People treat you like an imbecile…even though they are the ones who could take a note on appropriate human action. It may have something to do with the hormone crazies they witness or the sudden body changes, but people suddenly act like you can’t do anything for yourself. That gets old after, oh, fifteen minutes. Then, they feel the need to give you all sorts of advice you have heard countless times already. That’s of course after they tell you how fat you are getting.

8. You get hairy. I have a hairier stomach and lower back than ever. DARK hairy. It’s quite attractive. Even more attractive….not being able to reach my legs to shave. Thank goodness it’s winter time.

7. Leakage #1. Ever heard of kegels? They don’t help in pregnancy. Sneeze, laugh, cough…you will end up leaking a bit. That whole having to run to the bathroom thing? Sometimes you simply won’t make it.

6. Leakage #2. I can’t believe I am about to type this out. Here goes. Towards the end, you will also need some padding for your bra. Yes, the nipples do leak. It’s kind of a disturbing feeling to suddenly feel dampness there.

5. #2 Blockage. With all of the fabulous leakage happening, something is bound to get clogged up. Things become very irregular in the #2 department. And yes, sometimes bad enough to cause hemorrhoids. They happen. Oh, do they happen.

4. Water retention to the max. You would think that with as often as bathroom trips occur and as thirsty as you get, water retention would not pose much of a problem. Au contraire. You feel bloated pretty much from day 1 onwards. And you swell in places you never thought possible. Like, ahem, down below.

3. Bye-bye drive. I have heard some claims to the opposite, but I (and most people I have talked with) experience a huge plummet in wanting “couple time”. That’s all I will say on that.

2. Crazy dreams. Things get intense those precious moments you actually do make it to a deep slumber. I have had too many vivid dreams to even recall. One of which included my mother having to check how dilated I was because I missed my doctor’s appointment. Talk about awkward. Perhaps I should ask for one of these for Christmas? If only it could have saved me from some very disturbing mental images.

1. You will likely miss your pregnant body. Even with all of those annoyances and feeling huge during pregnancy, part of you will miss it. And on some level feel even bigger after the baby. Suddenly things that were stretched out and firm are now soft. Suddenly you can move and turn to see areas you previously couldn’t…lumpier than when you last saw them. Oh, yea. Cellulite will find you and to levels never before seen on your body. You have many of the same issues to deal with for a month or two after birth, only with a baby (and crazy bills) on top of it all.

  • Do you ever sugar coat certain topics? Which topics can you not stand when people do not shoot straight? I try to say things in as respectful a manner as possible, but hate sugar coating. I guess if there was one it would be when someone questions me on how their hair/new outfit/etc looks.


71 Comments to “what they don’t tell you”
  1. Em says:

    hahaha!! Oh I can definitely relate to a few of these numbers… one of them is pretty embarrassing!!!!!!!! And very uncomfortable (can you guess which one I’m talking about?!?!)!! 🙁 And I am NOT looking forward to number 1, but I know it will happen. Just need to be prepared to not let it all get me down, I guess. Anyway, this post cracked me up, haha! 🙂 Hope you get well soon!!!!!!!

  2. I LOVE that book! So true! They should give you that one when you get pregnant, not What To Expect! I can relate to all of them and they do pass. I miss nursing more than anything. That was complete one on one time and it is so precious. Love your honesty Tina…oh and the drive…it comes back!

  3. Camille says:

    I would bet my life on the fact that the mood swings would hit me harder than any of the other symptoms. For three days a month, my boyfriend knows that if he even so much as suggests that fact that Jack and Rose were not the perfect soulmates, I will start weeping. I wish I were kidding when I typed that. It has happened before. I have also definitely never started crying when my cat wont cuddle with me on the couch.
    This all seems so much worse when I write it in a public forum!

  4. Not gonna lie…this post made me a little worried– and I’m not even pregnant! But the honesty is definitely appreciated 🙂

  5. loved this! Thanks! So, your “lady” actually swells? Is that what you were getting at??

  6. Great post, girl! I’m with Anna – i’m not pregnant but you kinda scared me! LOL Love your honesty. I try not to sugarcoat things – there are definitely 2 sides to everything, pros and cons, and while I usually focus on pros, I always mention the cons and that “it’s not for everybody!”

  7. I love this post- thank you for your honesty. Having kids is my biggest dream in life, but I kind of wish I could skip over the pregnancy part because I HATE being uncomfortable. I guess the kid you get in return is kind of worth it though 😉 Hang in there!!

  8. I love it! Love it…going to bookmark all of your preggo posts and pull them up if one day I’m a lucky gal with a beautiful belly!

  9. Thanks for telling it like it is!! I am not one to sugar coat–I like to be honest and forthright,sometimes to a fault. :0

  10. Amanda says:

    See, now I’m almost missing pregnancy. Only almost though. My second/ last pregnancy I had exactly ten good days between when the morning sickness went away and the sciatica kicked in.

    Yeah… good times… 😉

  11. lindsay says:

    oh goodness, the joys of being a woman. Can’t wait, or maybe i can. haha!

  12. chelsey says:

    Oh my gosh – this post was so great. People certainly do sugarcoat pregnancy a lot, I’m guessing… because I have never heard half of those things!! Arrrgh! You’ve scared me.. a little.

  13. How lovely to be a woman, eh? 😉

  14. well i for one am glad that you’re not sugar coating it…whenever i do get pregnant i will be calling you and asking “is this for REAL?!?!”

  15. Me-Linh says:

    This is hilarious! I’m actually really excited to one day have children and this only makes me more excited.
    The next time I talk to my mom I’m going to ask her how her leakages were when she was prego. Or maybe not 🙂

  16. I love how honest the post was! I can’t wait to experience all these things for myself, always focused on the outcome (a baby)! : )

  17. I think its funny how we use “How are you doing” as a greeting. And we always reply with “fine” or “good.”

    Do you really want to know how I am doing? If so, then come over here and let me really tell you.

    But usually we offer the casual “fine” or “good” as we keep walking past the person that said “Hi, how are you doing.”

    • Becca says:

      Agreed!! Too often we do it just as a polite thing, like it’s expected (Minnesota Nice, anybody?). I’ve had days where I’ll say Hi to someone, and they’ll say “Hi, how are you?” And I’ll say “Fine, and how are you?” and then they’ll completely NOT answer, ’cause they’re too busy walking away to answer my question. Er… really? I understand you’re on your way somewhere, but you can’t take five seconds to reply to a question?
      I was talking to a friend of mine a while back about the “Oh, fine” idea and we decided we’re going to try to be more honest with people, see what happens. For example:
      –Hi! How are you?
      –Oh, fine. How are you?
      –Well, my dog died yesterday and I failed a test today and… (insert other things here).
      (You could also do positives, though they’d be better received—people might expect happy, but not sad. You know?)

      My guess is you’d get something like “Uhm… well, that’s … too bad? Nice seeing you!” An awkward reply, for sure.
      You asked, so I’m gonna tell you! Don’t want an answer, don’t ask the question.

      I might not feel like divulging everything, but I try to match my expression and voice—like if I’m having a crappy day, I might say something like “Oh, I’ll all right” with kind of a sigh and a frowny expression. Depends on the person, and the situation, but sometimes I do get people who probe further, beyond the statement and to the heart of the matter.

  18. I haven’t had a child myself, yet, but it has always amazed me at the “stuff” that isn’t talked about. I mean, growing a baby inside you and then pushing it out…”things” are bound to happen 😉 Not all pleasant. But we women are awesome beings!

  19. Karen says:

    You did a great job on that list!! I think I experienced everything on your list. But in the end it was totally worth it when I had my two beautiful babies in my arms!

  20. Yiiiiikes! When I was younger, I wanted to have 4 children. Not so sure about that anymore :).

    • Tina says:

      Peter used to want 4 too. He quickly learned 2 will be good for us. Just the other night he even said its good its my 2nd pregnancy that has me feeling like this. Otherwise M may have been it.

  21. Very good to know. Not enough women actually share these details, but I think it’s useful for normalization. It’s actually kind of silly that magazines will describe explicit sexual positions or suggest bikini wax shapes, but when it comes to pregnancy, heaven forbid discussing anything beyond weight gain and cravings.

    • Tina says:

      So true!! Why are these topics so taboo? Maybe because there’s few people crazy enough to say “HEY! I got hemorrhoids!!!” Hahaha.

  22. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Katie Heddleston, RD and Tina Reale, Tina Reale. Tina Reale said: what they don’t tell you: I woke up sick today. Again. Ever since Friday morning I have been feeling fairly ill…. http://bit.ly/fNDuS0 […]

  23. These are DEFINITELY things you should know in advance. When my best friend got pregnant I was so grateful to finally have someone to actually tell me what its like.

  24. Natalie says:

    I love this post! I’m all about knowing as much as I can in advance so I’m not surprised.

  25. Melie says:

    This is very refreshing… though kind of scary!
    Given my current situation, I think people are sugarcoating PhD way too much. Yeah, they tell you it’s hard but they don’t tell you how much it sucks sometimes!

  26. Elaine says:

    This post is perfect! All true. ALL OF THEM. And I love #3. I would like to meet the people who have a “high drive.” I know NONE of them! 🙂

  27. Dorry says:

    I think you are doing everyone a great service with your honesty on this topic! I got to experience a lot of this 2nd hand when my sisters were pregnant. They’ve given it to me straight as well…and are definitely excited for their little sister to experience pregnancy. 🙂

  28. Becca says:

    Ohmy! That’s quite a list! I’ve never really asked any of the women I know about their pregnancies (which is a lot of women. Like 15 great-grandchildren for Grandma. And one of my cousins is due again in a couple of months!)… I mean, we ask about weight gain a little, if they’re where they should be, and the health of the baby, but I’ve never heard anything too detailed. Just general stuff.
    I’ve never been completely sure I want to have kids. I’ll have to weigh things when the time comes. Maybe I’ll adopt. Or maybe I’ll do both. We’ll have to see. But I have to find a husband first! 😛

  29. Ameena says:

    Jenny McCarthy’s books are brilliant – I love her honesty. I love your honesty too Tina! Seriously, you are so brave for putting it all out there like this. Love it.

  30. Ameena says:

    PS – I must admit though that I DO NOT miss my pregnant body. I, in no way, had a glow of any kind. 🙁

    • Tina says:

      Oh I’m only talking about missing it for the first month or so – when you’re still not even close to resembling normal and still have hormones, aches from birth, etc. Heck no do I miss my pregnant body after a few months! LOL

  31. Priyanka says:

    Having worked in a Ob & Gyn ward during my medical days in India, I know about all these physical symptoms. But didn’t have an idea about the nitty gritties! Seriously why do people sugar coat so much, I adore your honesty!

  32. Astrid says:

    People sgar coat ed’s a lot, or just joke about them, and that can bother me at times. The crying at IHOP actually made me giggle. I have modd swngs like that anyways, so I am terrified to find out what happens when I get pregnant. I love that you are doing this. I love finding out the truths behind certaint hings, especially from someone experiencing things. I have no idea, for example, that you need to get bra padding. How insane are the cravings?

    • Tina says:

      The cravings are bad too. They almost overtake you and all sense leaves. That’s why I’m having such a hard time with all the sugar cravings. Normally I either wouldn’t crave it as much or be able to satisfy it with more natural ways (like fruit). While pregnant? Forget about it. I have to have some chocolate or icecream (or both hehe) every day.

  33. We’ve been warned! 🙂 I started laughing when I read # 1 because I’ve been there…and I wasn’t pregnant! I can’t imagine what will happen when that day comes!

    Tina, I’m SO glad that you things as they are…it makes for truly refreshing reading. I hope you feel MUCH better tomorrow! <3

  34. Shannon says:

    So true! On all counts. I often felt guilty for not being happy all the time because there is sort of an expectation that when you are pregnant you are supposed to be happy and glowing. It’s a stange paradox of emotions….you are grateful and thrilled to be carrying a miracle inside you, but uncomfortable and impatient for it to end all at the same time.

  35. Kristy says:

    I laughed so many times. I think the most shocking was the leakage and hair! Yikes!

  36. Lindsey says:

    I guess I’ll have a lot to look forward too in a few years….!

    • Tina says:

      It is fun on some level. On a get to laugh at yourself and the madness that pregnancy is level. Heck, when the options are either laughing or crying, its best to choose the laughing. 😉

  37. I love it! It’s so fun to get it straight from someone in the thick of it right now. I think I’ve cried like that when a restaurant no longer had a menu item, but I didn’t have the excuse that you had. I was just really hungry!

  38. WHAT?! Your nipples leak?? You get constipated?? Seriously, why is this not more common knowledge???

    When I’m pregnant, can I have you on speed dial?

    • Tina says:

      LOL By all means. There’s probably more crazy stuff that I just forgot about. Or repressed. I have a feeling I have repressed a lot of the labor stuff.

  39. I need to get Belly Laughs. Keep meaning to read it. The one thing I count myself blessed with is that I actually HAVEN’T been having mood swings. (Please oh please oh please let me miss out on one symptom!) Anxiety yes, but fortunately no bursting into tears. My husband was just commenting on the hairy belly yesterday, though. Ew!

  40. Angela says:

    Great post Tina! I had to laugh reading all of this but at the same time it made me really appreciate what pregnant women are going through. I’ve never been pregnant myself, but thanks for this list – I’ll definitely keep them in mind and will someday probably think “wow, Tina was SO right!”

  41. I’m one of those gloss over things people because pregnancy was so amazing. I never had one of these ten problems (except maybe crazy dreams occasionally) but I did have ‘morning’ sickness which was all day sickness til 24 weeks a long…..then the heartburn started.

    Pregnancy was so incredible and I loved every bit of it!

  42. Katie says:

    Great post! I am honestly not one to sugarcoat anything, it really annoys me. I think people deserve to have a mix of positive, yes, but also the TRUTH so they don’t feel so alone or weird when these things happen.

    Thank you for sharing this. I have never been pregnant, but one of my biggest pet peeves in the whole world is how celebrities and magazines portray pregnancy in our world today. It seems to no longer be seen as a beautiful thing. I hate seeing “before and after” weigh loss pictures where the before is when she is pregnant. That is NOT a before picture! It is so demeaning to women and just makes mothers feel bad about their bodies when we should be celebrating them.

    • Tina says:

      Yes! That drives me CRAZY too!!! Or when it mentions “celebrity A lost 50 lbs in a month” to sell magazines, when most of it was natural post-partum weight loss. Then, she gets airbrushed to look great and woman (pregnant before or not) think they should be able to make changes like that rapidly. Grrrr…..

  43. Therese says:

    OMG the dreams have been just too much. Seriously I wake up feeling so emotional because they feel so real. Just last night I dreamt that the baby was already born and I kept forgetting to breast feed her (yea it was a her in the dream). I would only remember when my boobs started leaking lol. Then in another dream the hubbie and I were at the doc and finding out the sex (of our still unborn child?) and they said it was very clearly a BOY! They were pointing to things on the screen but neither of us could see what the heck they were talking about.


    • Tina says:

      That’s so crazy you dreamed both boy and girl. I was about to say “maybe its a girl” before I got to the rest of your comment. With both my kiddos I had dreams about the gender – and was right both times. 😀

  44. Kelly says:

    How long did it take to get your pre-pregnancy body back after M was born? And how soon were you able to start exercising?

    • Tina says:

      I would say I was back to pre-pregnancy weight within a few weeks, but my body looked different. I got back into the shape I was in pre-pregnancy by 4 months post partum from M and then in the shape above by 8 months post partum. I think just consistently making workouts and healthy eating a focus helped, but other things likely played a role as well. For this time, I plan on just letting my body do its thing and seeing where it goes. And I really do believe in the concept of it taking 9 months to put on and a year to take off.

  45. Your posts never cease to amaze me. I always come back wanting more and more. This is a great post and thanks for being so honest! Hope you are feeling better, though.

  46. Tatianna says:

    I loved this post!!
    I’m certainly not even in the position to consider having a child right now, being 19 years old and completely single, but I still find this incredibly interesting. I remember a few years ago, one of our family friends was preparing for her first child and read that book. She said it was perfect because it was completely honest, and she felt so much better about the scary parts of child birth after reading it.

  47. Courtney F says:

    Agreed on ALL accounts!!

  48. I love Belly Laughs so much! Yep agree w/ your list. I could get over the boobs leaking b/c that’s what they are there for but I wasn’t down w/ all the hair and not being able to reach anything to shave!

  49. I’m naturally very hairly so when I first heard that pregancy brings along hairiness I was horrified, I do not need any more hair! not that I’m even planning on getting pregnant 😀

  50. Quix says:

    Awww, man, I hope you feel better!

    Although the more I hear about pregnancy, the less I EVER want to go through it, heh. I’m sure my time will come eventually but… not yet!

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