There are lots of things I expected to happen while pregnant. Even without reading baby books, you see in movies and on tv things like morning sickness, fatigue, moodiness, gas, weight gain, etc. Then you start to read the books and you learn about even more “fun” stuff to expect like acne and heartburn. Or, in my case, two books: “What to expect when you’re expecting” and a random French book that is no help at all except to help me keep my dates straight. Maybe not reading a lot of different books is why there were still a few unexpected things about pregnancy for me. The few friends who’ve been pregnant in the past few years added a bit to my knowledge, but unless you see or talk to someone every day, there are lots of things you’ll never hear about.
And I know everyone is different, and I’m sure there are more surprises to come as I enter my third trimester, but there are a few things that really didn’t even enter my mind as possibly happening during pregnancy.
Like belly size. It changes! At first, it’s all bloating, which is so hard to accept because you’re just excited that you’re pregnant and even a tiny little bump seems so cool. Then one day, it totally disappears and you freak out when you wake up with a flat stomach and wonder if you can call the hospital with the symptom of “no more belly” but then you google it and it turns out it’s perfectly normal because everything that you saw before was just bloat and not the baby because he was only the size of a chickpea. Phew!
But belly size also changes during the day. Just like pre-pregnancy, you wake up with a smaller belly than you end the day with, depending on what you eat and do during the day. And then there are days you look gigantic for no apparent reason, and others you put on a hoodie and you don’t even look pregnant at all.
This is probably all because the belly is squishy, not hard. I’m not sure why this was so unexpected, but I wasn’t around pregnant friends enough to make a great study of their bellies. Also, I’m not one of those people who feels the need to touch a pregnant belly (besides my own), so if you judge just by looking, they all look round and hard, right? Not at all! I feel like I hear “basket ball” or “bowling ball” or “beach ball” associated with pregnant bellies, but that’s not really what I see on a daily basis. It’s definitely getting “harder” as the baby gets bigger, but at first, it’s weird to feel so much give and elasticity, you wonder if there’s really anything in there besides all the extra tacos the baby “made” you eat.
I knew that my belly button popping out was a real possibility. But I didn’t expect it to be such a slow process, and, just like belly size, to vary by day. You hear “pop” and you think of popcorn, a sudden POP! But thankfully there’s no noise, just a gradual depth reduction that might be my least favorite thing about pregnancy (I know, weird choice, right? But I didn’t realize how much I liked my belly button until it started changing). Mine is still an innie (just barely!), but I don’t know for how much longer.
Besides the unexpected discovery of new and mysterious aspects of my belly, I also wasn’t expecting to be quite so limited in what I can do. I was very active before, and have continued to exercise, but it’s more the daily things that are unexpectedly hard. Like stairs! So many stairs! At the train station, at work, up two flights to my apartment . . . I can walk or swim for an hour, but after five steps I am done!
And putting together furniture, one of my favorite things, takes way longer than before. This was really frustrating for me, since I am used to control and used to knowing my body’s limits. To be suddenly incapable of so many things I enjoy was extremely hard, despite “knowing” that my body is changing and using lots of energy to grow a baby. But I’ve finally gotten used to taking breaks every 20-30 minutes and just accepting that it will take two days instead of two hours to put a room together, and leaving 10 minutes earlier for the train to account for multiple breaks on the stairs.
There are lots of things I expected but haven’t happened. People have been pretty good about keeping the unsolicited advice to themselves, but maybe I am lucky and just know chill people. Or maybe they are waiting until he’s born . . . No belly touchers, no comments about weight, no side eyes over what I eat. So I still feel like overall, this is a normal, boring pregnancy, thanks to everyone mostly treating me the same, or at least, like a competent adult who doesn’t need to be reminded to not eat sushi. The unexpected things are more on the physical end, and no one can really know for sure what your body will or won’t do!