My first clue that I might be pregnant was a singularly nasty reaction to the bottle of champagne I shared with my husband the night we were reunited after two weeks' separation, about three months into our marriage. I hadn't been trying to get pregnant, and had no clue that I was, or I wouldn't have been drinking alcohol in the first place. Five days later, a home-test confirmed the suspicion launched by my quarrel with the champagne.
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Naturally, I didn't mind giving up alcohol (and a whole host of other things) for the sake of my unborn child. I went out and bought the requisite bottle of high-test vitamins, and for the next couple of weeks or so I felt great. Even when the regular bouts of nausea (forget *morning* sickness--this went on all day, every day) set in after that, I didn't despair. All the books on pregnancy and childbirth I had hastily acquired confidently assured me that this
phase would only last for the duration of the first trimester, and then I would start to feel much better--possibly even better than usual. There was a footnote somewhere amidst all those reassurances, to the effect that a *very tiny percentage* of women continue to experience nausea after the first trimester. "Think positive," I told myself, "you won't be one of those."
Wrong. The queasiness continued into my fourth month. Then finally, early in the fifth, it miraculously lifted . . . for maybe thirty-six hours. That was it--that was my reprieve, and I never got another one. Mind you, I should be grateful: as a person who gains
weight easily, I fully expected to be among those women who put on fifty or seventy-five pounds with pregnancy and then have to struggle to slim down
again; thanks to constant nausea, however, I gained only as much weight as I was supposed to and not an ounce more.
I suppose I should also be thankful for the other major discomfort I experienced during pregnancy, since it was excellent preparation for the radically disrupted nights of new parenthood. Let's put it this way: I have a capacity for fluids the approximate equivalent of a newt's. I don't go anywhere without first figuring out where all the bathrooms are; or, if we're roughing it, I make sure there are plenty of concealing woods. Need I describe the effect of pregnancy on this sad state of affairs? By the time my child was born, I was already perfectly well accustomed to getting up--I kid you not--a dozen times a night. (Good thing, too, since my son, at just over four pounds when he came home from the hospital, needed to be fed every sixty to ninety minutes.)
I'm afraid I was not properly appreciative of the benefits derived from the indispositions of pregnancy. On the contrary, by the end of the sixth month, I was inclined to snap at any well-meaning person unwise enough to tell me how radiant I looked, "Radiant,
schmadiant--all I want is to sleep for more than twenty minutes at a time, thank you, and be able to eat a piece of cheesecake without regretting it for a
week!" As for the traitorous pregnancy books, I actually threw them all out the window in a fit of pique toward the end of my seventh month. (I went down later and sheepishly retrieved them from the
snowbank they had landed in.)
With all due respect to the sacred mysteries of conception, gestation, and birth, I would just like to state for the record that I think we mammals got a raw
deal. Wouldn't it be a whole lot more sensible and convenient just to lay eggs and incubate them a while? After all, in this day and age it's not as if we'd
actually have to sit on them all the time, would we? I envision incubators, for rent or for sale, to remediate the necessity of constant egg-sitting. For
those unable to afford incubators, other options might still exist since, at the very least, keeping the eggs warm and protected would not have to be the sole
responsibility of the mother: other family members, for instance, could help out. Or perhaps, instead of midwives, there could be professional egg-sitters
whose services might be included as part of a standard health plan.
Meanwhile, the discomforts of pregnancy--to say nothing of the ordeal of childbirth itself--would be rendered irrelevant. And is there any reason why,
when the big day arrived, watching one's infant emerge from his or her egg should be any less thrilling than experiencing the miracle of parturition? It would
certainly be a lot less messy.
Alas, any notion of us warm-blooded creatures--other than the fortunate platypus, or its cousin the echidna--laying eggs is but a fantasy. It is one I
indulged in frequently in the course of a pregnancy that became steadily more uncomfortable with every passing day, but the only real relief came with my son's departure from the womb. I admit that his
arrival in our lives put everything wonderfully into perspective. All the same I can't help wishing, even now, that someone would write a pregnancy book that tells it like it is, so we could all have a more realistic idea of what we might be in for. After all, those women who claim they never felt better than when they were pregnant--they're just kidding, right?
- Barbara Romaine