- Is as big as a…wait for it…beefsteak tomato! Doesn’t that sound deliciously substantial? Am resisting urge to go pinch some produce as I type this.
- Has started “breathing” amniotic fluid in through its nose and respiratory tract, giving those lungs some very early practice for the real thing. (Late in the third trimester, you can actually watch the fetal breathing on an ultrasound, and lo, it is very cool.)
- Can sense light and pressure from outside of the womb, so if you want to get a jump start on annoying the crap out of your kid, shine a flashlight on your stomach or chase it around with the doppler wand every night. Or gently caress your belly while singing lullabies in a variety of foreign language and mediating on the Zen-ness of it all. You know, whatever your personal parenting style goes for.
- May be experiencing some of the weirder symptoms of pregnancy, many of which can start early in the second trimester. Including! For example!
- Sinus congestion! Runny nose! Stuffed-up nose! So much freaking mucus, and not in the places where you would ASSUME mucus would be involved. It’s called rhinitis of pregnancy and once again, they just blame it on “hormones.” Get yourself a humidifier or vaporizer, inhale steam in a fogged-up bathroom or try those saline nasal drops. Ask your doctor before taking any decongestant or medicated nasal spray.
- Bleeding gums! A side effect of all that extra blood you’ve got coursing through your system. (Nosebleeds are common too.)
- Skin pigmentation! The linea nigra, or that darkish line that runs down the center of your belly, sometimes shows up as soon as you start showing, sometimes much later. Moles, freckles and birthmarks can spread and/or darken. You might notice some melasma, or “mask of pregnancy” across your face, particularly if you spend a lot of time in the sun or have a naturally olive or darker complexion. A lot — but not all — of these changes will fade after you give birth. When in doubt, slather up on the sunscreen to increase your odds that they’ll be temporary.
- Forgetfulness! Pregnancy brain! Gestational amnesia! Whatever you want to call it, you probably know what I’m talking about. In the past week alone, I’ve 1) run a load of laundry without any detergent, 2) made coffee without a filter, 3) tossed a Ziploc of frozen chicken to defrost in the sink but forgot to actually seal the bag, and 4) stared at my husband for three full minutes while trying to remember his name.
A few weeks ago, Your Intrepid Gestator was interviewed by The Washington Times for an article about the latest edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Once considered the grandmommy of all pregnancy books, the What to Expect… series has fallen a little out of favor, what with that impossible-to-obey diet section, the seemingly endless pages of worst-case scenarios that could be lurking beneath your normal-seeming symptoms, and what’s with the frumpy rocking-chair mom on the cover?
You can read the article here (I show up to crash the joint on page 2). It’s actually really interesting, because the author is keenly aware of these criticisms, and has sought to correct most of them in the newest version. Even the cover got a makeover! She gets to wear JEANS! And STAND UP! Ship your women back to the fundamentalist compounds — the pregnant women are getting all kinds of uppity.
Oh, I kid. What to Expect… was the first pregnancy book I ever bought — right when we agreed to toss the birth control pills but long before we conceived. Once I finally (FIN.UH.LEE.) got pregnant, however, I hightailed it back to the bookstore in search of an alternative guide, because my nerves couldn’t take any more. And this really wasn’t the book’s fault — in the pursuit of being the definitive, comprehensive guide to pregnancy, What to Expect... simply became TOO comprehensive. They couldn’t talk about X and Y without talking about Z, but unfortunately for us all, Z was the 1-in-32893803495702454 case of a spontaneous outbreak of the ebola virus in a perfectly healthy pregnancy, or something.
Basically, it was Google, and a thousand paranoid ill-advised searches for “weird rash 6 weeks pregnant missed miscarriage omg flesh eating disease,” all printed out and numbered by chapter for your convenience.
Here on Alpha Mom, the book sits at the top of the Product Ratings page for garnering the most reviews of anything we list. Lots of love, and lots of hate. Lots of accusations of being “old-fashioned” and “one big guilt trip.”
And in fact, the Internet seems to be a driving force behind the book’s update. Women are turning to other women. We don’t WANT to know everything that can go wrong, even though we might THINK we do. We want to be told that everything is okay, that X, Y and Z are ALL normal and harmless, and that we’re going to laugh at how neurotic we were about this someday when our baby is up at 2 am for the 132nd night in a row. We want reassurance that you don’t have to do pregnancy perfectly to have a perfectly healthy baby, because none of us are perfect.
And so the What to Expect… books are getting back in touch with the thing that made them so popular to begin with: they were written by a MOM and not a doctor. No perfect pregnancy diet, no dire consequences lurking behind every bag of Oreos. It really sounds like the book has been completely overhauled to reflect the modern pregnancy, which is most definitely NOT spent contemplating your bump in a rocking chair for nine months.
*clap clap clap clap!*
I use a lot of pregnancy books as reference for this column, but none for my own pregnancy-related questions. I generally turn to blogs or my friends or my friends’ blogs for those. I liked The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy but found it sort of dated (STIRRUP PANTS!!) and fluffy, I still use the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy but it’s kind of dry and missing the inherent humor and weirdness that comes with pregnancy, and I could never bring myself to open Pregnancy Sucks or similar books after battling with infertility. I’m a sucker for anything in the week-by-week format (no kidding!) but wish they included more first-person anecdotes to follow along with.
What about you guys? What books did you love? Or hate? Do you even bother with the books anymore, or do you go online instead?
Oh Yeah, THIS: I really wish I could remember where I put my keys. Also that glass of water I swear I just poured for myself. And wait, why did I walk down to the basement again?
New This Time Around: Oh God, I seem to have developed my very first skin tag. I read about these last time but never got them. I now have one in my armpit and ew. EW.
Related post: Pregnancy and COVID-19: What We Know (& a Few Things We Don’t)
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