Pregnant with my second child and determined to take control of something, I popped into Jiffy Lube for an oil change. My serviceman was a woman named Ali. She looked fabulous in a blue jump suit with a smudge of grease on her cheek.

“How far along are you?” she asked, motioning towards my protruding belly.

“Just about 20 weeks,” I replied.

“Half way there,” I added cheerily, trying a bit too hard to sound optimistic.

“I have an 18-month -old at home,” Ali shared, “I can remember feeling like I would be pregnant forever.”

Before I could say as much as an “Amen,” she continued:

“People who say pregnancy is a beautiful thing need to be slapped.”

And, just like that, Ali became my favorite person in the whole world.

I hated being pregnant.  I’m well aware there are women out there who would do anything to be pregnant. How can I, someone who’s apparently as fertile as a guinea pig, someone who gave birth to two beautiful, healthy daughters, complain?

Yet keeping silent feels false. It feels as if I’m advancing the myth that pregnancy is second nature for every woman, a blessed joyride, the ultimate signifier of true womanhood.

I didn’t expect pregnancy to be easy, but I never expected it to be hell.

Around six weeks in, both times,  I woke up with what felt to me like a the residual effects of an alcohol, tobacco -fueled all-nighter. Nausea oozed from every pore, yet I knew I needed to eat. It was as if there was a monster deep within me that fed on emptiness.

I adopted the posture of Quasimodo. Dragging myself to work and back each day was a major accomplishment, rewarded with a twelve-hour nap. If my husband wanted to eat, he needed first to go to the store for groceries (supermarkets repelled me), then prepare himself anything that didn’t require cooking. If he did cook, even a single slice of onion or roasted pork chop, I would sit up in my bed like the Bride of Frankenstein and moan, “You’re killing me.”

It didn’t take me long to learn that hating being pregnant was not something you admit to or talk about:

“How do you feel?” a female co-worker consistently asked me each morning during my first pregnancy as I shuffled into the office with a forced smile on my face.

“Like an old, colicky horse that needs to be put down,” I finally answered one day.

“Don’t you dare say that!” she scolded. “What if the baby hears you?”

This woman, a mother herself, was one of those suspicious creatures who claim to feel great during pregnancy. She could  not empathize. Instead, she chastised.

A couple of weeks ago, Daver and I ran into my neighbor across the street, one who had recently had her first baby. Being the lovable sap that I am, I immediately made a beeline for her in a desperate attempt to hold the squishy baby!

When I asked her how she was, she began to weep. She told me precisely how I felt after Ben was born: she was actually quite terrible. Her baby wouldn’t stop crying, well, ever, and she just didn’t know what she was doing wrong. Where were these maternal feelings she’d heard about? Why did she feel like she was doing it all wrong?

I told her that I was not in the habit of telling people horror stories before they had children/bought a house/ate at Jack-in-the-Box, because I always thought it sounded kind of mean. She then told me that she’d WISHED that someone had told her how hard babies are.

In this vein, I am going to start making my own lists of things I wish someone had told me before I’d had kids or been knocked up.

Things Aunt Becky Wishes She’d Known Before Getting Pregnant:

1. After your first pregnancy, you will look about 6 months pregnant as the positive pee stick is drying.

2. Your nipples will now reach epic proportions of pancakes. And not the whimsical silver dollar ones.

3. Oh, and they’ll turn from a delicate pinkish hue to a much darker brownish/black.

4. Okay, and then they’ll turn into something entirely freakish if you nurse.

5. You’re certifiable, but you have no idea of this. Instead you think you’re the only sane one left on the planet. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, you will be forced to watch yourself go off the wheels on the crazy train and be powerless to stop it.

6. If this is your first pregnancy, you will assume that this pregnancy is the most important pregnancy since Mary birthed Jesus.

7. You will eat a whole lot of food to try and make yourself less queasy. While it doesn’t work, not really, it will cause a couple of extra pounds to be added inexplicably to your frame. Which will annoy you because YOU DIDN’T EVEN ENJOY PUTTING THEM ON.

8. Worrying will become part of your daily routine. And will annoy the hell out of the rest of the world.

9. What To Expect While You’re Expecting was written by The Devil. Ignore this book as it will just make you feel badly about yourself.

10. Taking a decent poo may feel like cause for a press release. Don’t do it, for God’s sake, spare people the thought of you hunched over trying to push the world’s saddest poo out.

11. Suddenly anyone and everyone will waltz through your dreams and have wild passionate sex with you. Even people you find disgusting and/or hate. (Randy Jackson, anyone?)

12. While I’ve heard of some people having wild sex FOR REAL while pregnant, I can’t say I’ve been part of it. Especially once I’ve reached whale-like proportions and it feels like what it is: A Mercy F*ck.

13. Someone, somewhere will buy you the ugliest clothes you’ve ever seen for your unborn child. And you will have to sit there while grinning like an asshole and tell them that you looooovvvveee the little outfit with the stupid looking bows on it…. for your 7 year old son.

14. Honest to God strangers will not only feel the need to rub your belly without so much as a handshake hello, but will then ask you if you plan on breast feeding or not. This be dangerous waters, matey.

15. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, tell no one what you plan on feeding your child. Or make a really tasteless joke like, “We were thinking Jack Daniels, but do you think that Crown Royal is better?” Otherwise, you’re going to get a lecture. If you’re tasteless, people will just run away from you.

16. Most of the baby crap out there that they try to sell you is just that: crap. And newborns look stupid dressed in anything other than onsies. Trust me when I say that I speak from experience here.

17. You will hardly ever spend time in your perfectly coordinated nursery. Kids don’t play in their bedroom until they’re about 4 or 5, so while I would never suggest NOT doing up a nursery, I wouldn’t go ass-wild on it either.

18. YOU WILL KNOW WHEN YOU ARE IN LABOR. NOTHING ELSE FEELS LIKE LABOR, NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WANT IT TO.

19. Your ass becomes pregnant too.

20. No one, but you, can figure out what is actually on the ultrasound pictures. Cute, perhaps. Frightening, also perhaps.

21. Feeling the baby kick for the first time is perhaps the finest part of pregnancy. It only becomes painful when their ickle feeties get to be the size of golf balls. Mean, busy golf balls. And then they sometimes bruise your liver. For serious.

22. Maternity clothes will fit you differently during different parts of your pregnancy. What might look cute with your wee beer-belly during the first trimester will look downright dumb and ill fitting hours before you give birth.

23. Steer clear of anyone who claims any of the following:

  • I was back in my size 4’s when I left the hospital!
  • I’ve never felt better than when I was pregnant!
  • Breastfeeding really helped me take those 5 pesky pounds off!
  • Having a baby is soooooo easy!

I mean, even if they’re not lying through their grubby teeth to you, they’re going to make you feel bad. And TRUST ME when I tell you that you will have plenty of things to feel bad/inadequate about.

24. Pregnancy is an excellent cure for modesty. I cannot recall a time when I didn’t just whip down my pants in front of the doctor whether it was my OB or not. Perhaps I am also a nudist.

25. Enjoy it as best you can. Sure, you feel ugly as shit, you’re gangly and have reached hippo proportions, you can hardly make it an hour without going to the bathroom and peeing out a tablespoon of liquid, you have heartburn so badly you could sear paint from the walls, and you’re starving but queasy. It’s all true. BUT, unless you’re a Dugger or someone equally creepy, it only happens a handful of times.

Besides, it’s one of the few times you can actually evoke the, “But I’m pregggnnnnant!” excuse on your partner.

And that, my friends, NEVER gets old.

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I ate so many bean burritos with sour cream throughout my pregnancy, I’m surprised I didn’t give birth to a 7 pound 9 ounce burrito. I guess I sort of did when you consider that babies look like burritos when they’re swaddled, minus the cheese.

I went crazy for potatoes; mashed, baked, fries, hash browns, you name it. There were a few times I considered eating a raw potato because I didn’t feel like I could wait. Pregnancy hunger made me feel like I could even eat my own arm if I didn’t get food right away. After I had my daughter I thought the crazy hunger would calm down, but when I was pumping, my need for food this very second seemed almost as bad.

It surprises me that the little hummingbird refuses to have anything to do with potatoes, but my hubby says it’s probably because I ate so many while she was in the womb that it’s enough to last her a lifetime. I had to have ginger ale almost every day (I still have to have some in the house) and it can’t be any brand. It had to be Canada Dry.

I went completely crazy when it came to orange juice and anything that was fruity. I’m usually a chocoholic so it was weird when I would want something like lemon meringue pie over a brownie. My husband and I still joke about my crazy obsession with orange juice while pregnant. Towards the end of my pregnancy, we would have to get 2 one gallon containers of it a week.

The first time I realized I had a love affair with orange juice was at the beginning of my second trimester. I couldn’t sleep because my hubby was snoring and I had “morning” sickness 24/7. I was in bed and finally got comfortable when I got this massive craving for OJ. As much as I wanted it, I didn’t want to get out of bed, so I figured it would be there when I got up in the morning and it wasn’t likely that my hubby would drink what’s left of it.

When I got up that morning I sprinted to the fridge and saw there wasn’t any orange juice left. Then I saw that the empty container was in the recycling bin. I felt like I was in a slow motion scene from a movie when someone yells out noooooooo! The hormones were creeping up in me and I called my husband who was at work. When he answered the phone I wasn’t screaming and didn’t even raise my voice. I’m pretty sure that pregnancy hormones come out in our voice for our guys to hear just like dog whistles for dogs.

When I asked him if he drank the last of the orange juice he said “uhhhhhhh,” like he thought I was going to jump through the phone and rip his head off. Both of them.

Then he said he was so sorry and would get more on the way home. I cheerily responded with, “Okay, thanks, love you, bye,” which probably sounded to him like ‘you’re in deep sh*t and I’m going to kill you for drinking the last of the orange juice that OUR BABY needs when you get home‘.

Not that I ever said anything like that anytime during my pregnancy (I totally did).

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