Precautionary Warning: this is a WHINGING post, in the same vein as I Hate Camping and Green Smoothies Suck: Two Weeks Until Our Wedding. Also if the sight of a ruptured blood vessel - in my eyeball - would make you feel queasy, stop reading.
So I was not very far along in my pregnancy (you can read our announcement post here) when… man it still sounds so weird to say ‘my pregnancy’. Now I feel like giggling. Clearly I am extremely mature and totally ready for motherhood… another giggle-trigger word. Anyway, I was not very pregnant when I found out that pregnancy hates me. The reasons:
1. I CAN’T STAND THE SMELL OF MY DOG… OR A LOT OF OTHER THINGS
It is true that pregnancy super smelling powers are a real thing. Normally when people are like, “Nala smells, she needs a bath” I jump to her defence. Because I quite LIKE her doggy smell. She has this comforting kind of smell, sort of like corn chips, and corn chips always make me think of nachos.
Now, in bad pregnancy moments, getting a mere waft of Nala smell makes me vomit. If I am in my study and Nala is in the lounge room which is like three whole rooms away, I CAN SMELL HER. It’s not (just) her breath, it’s her skin. And she no longer smells good, like future nachos. She comes up to me and looks at me adoringly and I feel my stomach churn. “Please get away from me,” I cry tremulously. The poor fat thing walks around the house looking baffled. I feel so sad for her.
When I am at home alone working, Nala is my guard dog, and she takes her role seriously. She patrols the house, stares out the front window and growls at anyone and everyone walking past the house who could pose a threat to security including six-year-old girls riding tricycles with pink streamers on the handles. Lately Nala has developed a new annoying habit. About four times a day, she strolls over to my desk, squeezes her fat bulk underneath it, knocking aside my wastepaper bin, then walks around my legs and exits from under the desk, but not before fixing me with a grave, penetrating stare. “Perimeter check,” it is like she is saying. “Area secured, no intruders under desk. YOU ARE SAFE.” I know she means well, but now, being pregnant, catching that waft of her as she squeezes under my desk makes me run for the bathroom.
I have learned it makes no difference if she has just been washed. I can still smell that sickening dog smell. I am now washing her basically every two days, just because I cannot bear her doggy smell. Poor Nala. Showers are her second-least-favourite thing after going to the vet.
“You stink. You need a bath,” I choke out, my hand over my mouth, and Nala stops wagging her tail and looks at me sadly like, “Again?! But you JUST washed me. This is too much. I’m calling the RSPCA.”
2. I AM STUPIDER
Pregnancy brain is a real thing. I always thought it was an urban legend, something that pregnant women made up so they finally had a good excuse for forgetting to pay the electricity bill. Sometimes small things, like remembering the name of a blog, a café, a friend or even my own phone number, completely stump me.
“I don’t know what is wrong with me… I am stupider,” I weep to Mr Nerd.
“Well…. yes,” he says wryly but kindly. “Yes, you are.”
The other night, Pascal was trying to explain to friends about my pregnancy brain and how it’s made me slower. “Maya told me being pregnant feels like she’s running at 20 percent,” he said.
“No,” I said indignantly, “I said I’m running at 2/10.”
He looked at me silently. “See what I mean,” he said to our friends.
3. YOU FEEL NAUSEOUS ALMOST 24/7
I hardly ever get car sick or motion sick. But pregnancy makes every ride in the car feel like a roller coaster. Especially stop-start peak hour freeway traffic. As well as smells – not just the smell of Nala, but all sorts of smells that I normally don’t mind, or even like – make me feel nauseous – like coffee, a juicy steak (or any kind of red meat) cooking meat, my sister’s perfume, leather. The other day I went to interview the manager of a furniture store for a magazine story and the shop smelled so strongly of leather eventually I had to leave. Pregnancy nausea is like feeling car sick all day long.
4. I CANNOT ABIDE MY FAVOURITE FOODS, LIKE STEAK
I am usually that person at parties who people are looking at in exasperation thinking, “Man, she’s eating all the nachos.” It is well known that I have a big and lusty appetite. I live for food. When I was a kid I had family nicknames like The Walking Stomach and Black Hole and Iron Stomach. I am not a picky eater, but I do think every calorie you eat should be nutritious or absolutely delicious or it’s a waste of a calorie. I may sometimes cry when I haven’t been fed.
Pregnant, I can hardly stomach anything I used to. Or I can eat it but half an hour later I know I will be sick. At the worst points I was unable to keep down anything acidic, oily, rich, spicy, tomatoey or red meaty. Coffee is normally one of my favourite things ever but now even just the smell can make me vomit, as Mr Nerd, in an evil mood, discovered when he deliberately wafted his coffee cup under my nose once while I was working.
Even photos of food can be enough to trigger sickness. On bad days even seeing pictures of food on my Instagram or Facebook makes my stomach heave, when ordinarily I would be scrolling through salivating and going, “Yum….. yum…. ooh I must try that restaurant…. yum…. OH YUM”.
5. MORNING SICKNESS IS A MISNOMER
I never gave much thought about morning sickness until I actually had it. It’s not just in the mornings! THEY LIE TO YOU, PEOPLE. Sometimes you have a good morning and you think yay! Today is a great day! and then in the afternoon you start throwing up and don’t stop until nighttime. I have thrown up five times so far while writing this post.
6. COOKING IS THE DEMON
So I did not know this but when you are pregnant, cooking makes you nauseous and then you can’t even look at what you just cooked. In the worst stage my mum kindly cooked for me a lot (where would we be without mums?) I couldn’t stomach anything rich or flavoursome, so Mum made me baked chicken, steamed rice and carrot which is pretty much what I ate for lunch and dinner every single day for three weeks. It was just about the only thing I could keep down. I would even throw up water and bread.
7. JUST CALL ME EVIL BLOODEYE
Ok this is gross, but basically, in the worst stage I could not stop throwing up. One Sunday night, I threw up five times and basically I vomited so much, I burst a blood vessel in my left eye. Half of the white in my eye turned a frightening Scorsese red.
I learned of this the next morning, when I woke up and looked at myself in the giant mirror right beside my bed. See, I am vain and I do like to look at myself just before I go to bed and just when I wake up. If I was a Disney character, I like to think that when I wake up I could look in the mirror and trill, “Good MORNING world” and bluebirds would help me get dressed.
Not Monday morning. I woke, automatically looked in the mirror and let out a bloodcurdling scream.
I took a selfie of my blood eye and texted it to several close friends. I knew they would provide me with the sympathy I yearned for and the hopeful assurance that ‘it was not that bad’.
“GROSS! Are you sure it isn’t an alien growing inside you?” queried my frenemy Carly.
“Holy fucking shit! You vomited so hard you got a bloody eyeball” – Cat.
“Oh no! Oh my god what happened?.... *deep movie voice* introducing… “EVIL BLOODEYE” – Leah.
“Ewwww!” – my sister.
Mr Nerd, though sympathetic, peered at me throughout the day and would then burst out laughing. “It’s just so freaky when you suddenly look at me from afar.”
I had a subconjunctival hemorrhage, a condition caused by a small bleed beneath the conjunctiva, where a blood vessel bursts often from pressure such as vomiting, sneezing, coughing or heavy lifting. Usually, it was a painless and harmless condition that one could do nothing about, but just wait for it to clear up by itself in one to two weeks. Two weeks! (Google lies, people. Mine took more than three to go away completely).
Just to be sure my creepy blood eye wasn’t anything to worry about, I texted a close-up of my face to my clever and kind friend Jade who works at an optometrist clinic, knowing she would give me an accurate and thoughtful diagnosis while allaying my fears.
“OMG kill it!”
I scrutinised my reflection closely in the mirror and decided I looked like a walker. You know that Walking Dead app called Dead Yourself where you upload a photo of yourself and it turns you into a zombie? Like, I am already halfway there.
I sobbed to Mr Nerd that I looked so ugly. “How am I supposed to interview people and make them feel at ease with me when I look like this? I don’t even want to go to the shops because everyone will stare at me.”
“Just always wear sunglasses inside,” he said in his usual helpful fashion.
“Like Bono?” I sobbed.
We did go to IGA sans sunnies. A little boy saw me in the chippies aisle. He audibly gasped and dropped his Doritos. Ok maybe he didn’t drop his Doritos but he might have if you know what I mean.
I came up with the idea of wearing an eye patch for errands and all my work appointments. Maybe I would look fierce with an eyepatch.
Or I would look like a pirate. Everyone knows pirates are sexy. Mr Nerd said if I wore an eye patch then people would stare even more. “Because then you will look like an idiot who thinks she’s a pirate,” he said rudely. No I wouldn’t, I would look like this.
My frenemy Carly saw my eye, pronounced it “fucked up” and also vetoed my eye patch idea.
“Then you would look even MORE weird,” she said disdainfully.
My mum made me an eye patch anyway because she is a good sort like that. And when I met my friend Leah for dinner, she said she would totally wear an eye patch too so I didn’t look like the only weird one. I got good friends.
In a few days I got over my vanity and having people look taken aback when they spoke to me and just went about as normal. Then I thought, really it would be a much better situation if I had TWO red eyes, because then I could wear all black and pretend I was a vampire and people would be really scared at Garden City and stuff.
8. PREGNANCY MAKES YOU TIRED
Being pregnant makes you so tired all you want to do is this:
Well that and online shopping.
AND THEN I WENT TO THE DOCTOR
So it turned out there was a reason I felt so rotten. My doctor told me I have hyperemesis gravidarum. I had never even heard of it before getting pregnant. A lot of pregnant women get nausea – HG is basically the shittiest kind of morning sickness that 1.5 to 3% of pregnant women get.
One of the bad things about HG is that because sometimes you can’t keep stuff down, you’re not getting the fluids and nutrition you need and can become dehydrated, which is not good for you or the baby. Some women end up so dehydrated they have to go to hospital and be put on a drip. That must suck! I am lucky I never had to do that. (I learned to drink water one sip at a time, another small sip a minute later).
I was lucky to have one pregnant day where I felt great at my friend’s wedding and wasn’t sick once. I couldn’t eat much of the food, but I could dance. Then the very next day was the night I was so sick I burst the blood vessel in my eye. Possibly God gave me an awesome day to keep me kicking through the bad days without going on a pregnant lady rampage and murdering Mr Nerd aka Causer of Pregnancy-Inflicted Woe. Mr Nerd has been hiding out in his man cave in the garden an awful lot these days. He keeps saying he has a lot of work to do on the bike….
Unfortunately, genetics come into play when it comes to getting HG, and also I think luck of the draw. Women who have HG in their first pregnancy have an 80% chance of having it again. My mum was sick every single day of her pregnancy with me (horrific!) Then half the pregnancy with my sister Natasha, then nothing at all with my youngest sister Simone. I kept waiting for the morning sickness to magically pass at the 12 week mark like people said it did for them, but it didn’t.
AND THEN I MET MAXOLON
All hail Maxolon. Morning sickness medication and my pregnancy savior. Initially I didn’t want to take anything. Numerous people suggested it was a bad idea, and said you never know if it would result in serious baby health problems down the track, as I know had been the case with some morning sickness medications in history. So I worried about that and was resolved to be stoic.
When my doctor prescribed Maxolon I voiced my concerns, and I researched it extensively before taking it (I’m a journo, I can’t help it). And oh my god. The day I took it, I started to feel better and brighter. It doesn’t work for everyone but lucky for me it did. I wish I had taken it earlier. I think we live in an age where it is all well and grand and trendy to do everything ‘naturally’ these days but if you have gone from being happy and grateful about falling pregnant to feeling akin to hateful – and let’s admit, I was - why prolong it? I still vomit a bit and have nauseous episodes, but I feel like my old happy self again now.
Thanks for letting me whinge about pregnancy guys. I make silly jokes because I have to laugh about it, otherwise I would have just cried about it. Oh, and I definitely do that, too! I have had some very down hormonal moments, especially when the throwing up seems particularly endless and I feel so rotten I have a bit of a meltdown and burst into tears. Like uh, the other morning. At the chiropractors. (Sorry, Gavin).
Have you ever woken up with an Evil Blood Eye? Were you sick in pregnancy or did you feel better than usual? Would you rock an eye patch? Maya x