As a lifelong student, hypochondriac, anthropologist and thrill seeker, I have been doing research on conception and childbirth for several years, even when I was convinced that there was no way in hell I would ever be pregnant. Pregnancy is the human behavior, and as such, has been studied for centuries, and yet it is still a complete mystery to everyone. That is both horrifying and amazing to me. I’ve read tons of books, watched all the movies and discussed the topic with many, many moms. However, I still feel like there is a reality, a gravitas, missing from the discussion. What the what is really going on here? What should I really expect? Most of the people I’ve read about or seen interviewed or asked really graphic questions in person seem oddly removed from the emotion of it all. Maybe it’s all so horrific that their postpartum brains just erase it all and paint in its place a rose colored portrait of an episiotomy – “You know what? It’s really not so bad.” Sure. That, I buy.
In desperation at the library the other day, I picked up Jenny McCarthy’s 2001 pregnancy/birth book, “Belly Laughs,” which promises a frank, “crass,” and hilarious (read: just my style) take on growing a tiny new person inside yourself. I read the entire thing in two hours and I can safely say I knew more about pregnancy when I was eleven than Jenny McCarthy thinks adult pregnant women do.
So, I’m going to be real with you. Really real. I’m not going to pretend to blow your mind by telling you that sometimes pregnant women get stretch marks, even if they’re famous for their looks (because I’ve had stretch marks since 8th grade). What I will tell you is this: when you haven’t gotten your period after being off the pill for two months, your doctor will prescribe “Provera,” a progesterone replacement, that will jump start your wonky, birth-controlled cycle again. You will take this drug each night for ten days. During this time, you could start your period, but most likely you will just feel achy and exhausted and crampy and disgusting for ten days and still not start to bleed. At this point, you may be terrified that you are pregnant and infertile at the same time. You will wonder how it was so easy for the girls on “Teen Mom” to get pregnant after having unprotected sex for two weeks. You will be paranoid and sleepless and irritable. You will also be really, truly, totally sincerely thrilled that you have begun the process. You are officially riding the Baby Train.