Now that my son is 18 months old, I’m starting to get “the question.”
So, are you ready for another?
Another? My god, I feel like I just got done creating the one I have. People, I fabricated a human being out of thin air, and now you want me to do it again??
And yet, I do think about it from time to time. More than the little twinge I get when I see a mom cradling a shiny, new bundle, I think of the incredible bond between my sister and me and how I want my son to have that with someone.
Then I start remembering pregnancy.
The main thing I recall about being pregnant was feeling like my body was playing one humiliating joke on me after another. I had kept myself blissfully ignorant of the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, mostly so I would never be too chicken to attempt it. The downside of this approach was that I was completely caught off guard for all its inconvenient truths.
Everyone knows the pregnancy basics: your emotions go haywire, you gain a bunch of weight, you feel insanely tired and you barf from time to time.
I certainly wasn’t prepared for everything else.
You start off with the first few weeks when no one knows you’re knocked up. Despite your crushing fatigue and the fact that your clothes are getting tight, you pretend like everything’s normal. You don’t really look pregnant at this stage; you just look chubby. Most likely your co-workers have observed how many doughnuts you’re downing out of the community box and they just chalk up your weight gain to that.
Next, your sense of smell is heightened to a point where it could be considered a superpower, which would be cool if the person sitting next to you would stop eating curry for lunch and then throwing his leftovers in your trash can. Trips to the grocery store become unbearable. I don’t know who decided to put the fish display right next to the cheese aisle at my local supermarket, or if the d-bag responsible had any idea what he was doing to pregnant women, but it all seemed like a cruel joke at the time.
The only respite to the heightened sense of smell is the fact that your sinuses clog up, but your allergies go wild at the same time. And, as a possible result of all this, your nose gets bigger. I had actually forgotten about this one until my husband reminded me of it the other day. Thankfully, he was kind enough to clarify, saying, “It wasn’t so much that your nose got bigger, it was that your whole face got kind of puffy.” Ah, yes. Add puffy face to the list.
There’s your sudden hatred of foods you formerly loved, and your overwhelming urge to eat foods you would usually find disgusting, like a shriveled gas station hot dog or some slimy lunchmeat. Not to mention these are the very foods you are supposed to avoid thanks to the repulsive presence of listeria, which somehow doesn’t deter you from wanting them.
Let’s move on to bathroom time. Either you can’t go, or you can’t not go. Let’s just leave it at that.
Then there are all the wonderful things pregnancy does to your appearance. There’s the hormone-induced acne that pops up on your cheeks and along your jaw line. There’s the hyperpigmentation called melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” which causes dark patches on your skin. Mine conveniently showed up most prevalently on my upper lip, just where a lady likes to have a nice, dark shadow. Your constant sweating makes it impossible to keep your makeup in place. And, finally, your body hair starts growing at an impressive rate, which just feels like the icing on the cake.
What’s next? Ah, the constant crabby personality. During the time I was pregnant with my son, I’m confident most of my co-workers were humming the wicked witch song when I’d lumber past them on my way to the bathroom. God help the person who got in my way or asked me if I, too, thought the air conditioning was turned up too high.
As the months roll on, you start experiencing new and fascinating things like leg cramps, body aches, restless legs (not that you can sleep anyway) and lightning crotch. That’s right, lightening crotch. It’s real, and it’s freaking awful. Look it up.
Did I miss anything? Oh, your feet will get bigger, your skin will start itching like crazy and you will experience a complete and total loss of personal dignity.
Why on earth would I put myself through all this again?
Well, there was this one thing my son used to do when he was still shiny and new. He would look up at me like I was the most spectacular thing he’d ever seen, and then he’d blink this long, mesmerizing blink. His full lashes would fall to his cheek and linger there for a moment, and then he’d slowly raise his lids to reveal his stunning, bright blue eyes. He’d smile and gurgle and coo and stare into my eyes, and I would feel like the most magnificent woman on earth.
I guess when I think about the result, when I think about what a unique and funny and charismatic boy came from all that hardship, I realize that maybe there’s a reason pregnancy is so hard.
Perhaps, to receive such a mind-blowing gift, the recipient should be charged a pound of flesh, even if that penance is being applied rather than taken. It is a pretty miraculous outcome, after all.
Now, I hear my little miracle stirring in his bed and I realize he’s still pretty shiny and new, all things considered. He makes it all seem completely and totally worth the trouble.
But to go through it all again while chasing after a rambunctious toddler instead of lounging in bed with a bag of marshmallows? Now that’s a whole new consideration.