They say that there are certain experiences that can be life-altering. Travel is one example, and I can confirm that visiting another country can have a profound effect on your perspectives. Winning the lottery is another example, and just in case anyone in charge is listening, I would definitely like to volunteer to find out how life-altering this would be.
One of the biggest changes in your life, however, can come from something fairly routine: pregnancy. And while there are plenty of books out there detailing how things are meant to go, there are lots of things these publications don't tell you as well. So this week, I present: What They Don't Tell You To Expect When You're Expecting.
You discover you're pregnant and happily report news to your spouse. You are astonished to discover the man can do cartwheels, handstands and back flips. It takes you three days to get his head out of the clouds.
No matter what pregnancy books you buy, two things can be said about all of them:
1) You will be completely horrified at the number of things that could go wrong and 2) Your baby will not have read any of the books and will be blissfully unaware what it is supposed to be doing.
You will feel smug about how easy this pregnancy thing seems to be for you.
A woman's blood volume doubles over the course of a pregnancy. This is just as well because this month, your doctor will take the first of approximately 38,475 blood samples. By the end of your pregnancy you will not be able to cross any international borders without being questioned by guards about a suspected heroine injection habit.
You will experience sudden waves of tiredness so intense that you will end up face down on your keyboar(*HDFOa..a
Just like the word “wedding” or “bridal,” affixing the word “baby” to anything results in a 3000% retail mark-up. This means that in certain stores a crib, changing table, and small dresser could cost you more than your car did.
At these same stores, you will realize that there are some expectant parents who regard their first born as something to accessorize. They will spend hours debating which shade of Ralph Lauren paint best matches the tones of the Classic Winnie the Pooh bedding set.
Your husband will develop a pathological inability to pass any rack of stuffed animals without stopping and loading up the shopping cart.
Morning sickness will hit you like a ton of bricks, without warning. One minute you'll be springing out of bed and heading for the shower. The next minute you'll be crawling back under the covers and moaning piteously.
Your husband, bless him, learns the exact moment after that in which it’s safe to offer a restorative cup of tea.
Everything involved in baby care these days is part of a “system.” You cannot buy a plain old diaper pail; you must purchase a “diaper disposal system.” Likewise there is the “bottle management system” and the “baby cleaning system.” See also the 3000% mark-up mentioned in the Second Month.
You and your spouse will start looking at baby names by coming up with a long list of names you know you don't want to use. These might include the names of your bosses, ex-girlfriends or boyfriends, or that irritating kid in grade five that used to throw erasers at you. Friends and relatives will helpfully come up with suggestions like: Potiphera.
When you're not feeling ill, you will have the appetite of three full-grown Belgian quarter horses.
Fortunately, your husband knows how to feed Belgian quarter horses. This is because he eats like one most of the time himself.
Your friends and relatives will begin having frequent “grandma moments.” This is the pathological inability to pass by any baby product aisle without putting at least one, if not several items in the shopping cart.
You go shopping for maternity clothes, and actually believe that the pregnancy pillow they give you to fit under your shirt will be an accurate indicator of how you will look in a few months. Note to maternity wear stores: A watermelon would be more accurate.
The ultrasound appointment that always seems like a fun time on TV shows will actually involve:
1) Drinking and holding 32 ounces of water for approximately eight hours; only 45 minutes of this will be your actual appointment, the rest of this time will be spent in the waiting room.
2) The application of goop on your tummy that will be -32C.
3) Assurances from the technician that this grey smudge over here is a knee and that dark grey smudge over there is a head, and that really, there is a baby in there. But you'll go home with a cool picture.
Next week: What They Don't Tell You To Expect When You're Expecting, Part II.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.