“How are you feeling?”
I think it was about month four or five of pregnancy that I began to dread this question. Back then, it just felt repetitive and annoying. Now it feels like, “How do you think I feel, genius?!” It’s like asking how someone is when they’re at a loved one’s funeral. Do you really expect them to tell you the truth?
“I feel like the world has stopped turning. I feel like the earth has gone from beneath my feet. I feel like I can’t breathe, and that nighttime lasts forever. I can’t think of the next day, let alone the next year without my loved one. I feel angry at God.”
Nope, no one is going to say that. Most of us are well-trained circus animals that have been tamed into submission and taught to say something sociably acceptable. These days, my response to the dreaded question is one of two options.
“I’m fine.” This reply is reserved solely for those who I don’t know well, which is most people. For some reason, people start really caring about you when you’re pregnant. This has been one of the most annoying parts of creating human life: You didn’t care about me before, why do you care now?!
“Do you want the real truth, or the nice truth?” This answer is more suitable for people I know a little better – or at the very least, people I don’t mind sharing my private life with. It breaks the ice a little bit. And once the ice is broken, I can tell them how I really feel.
I feel like a water buffalo.
Why a water buffalo? Because one day I was huffing and puffing up the fit trail at work and this was the first thought that crossed my mind. I couldn’t have picked a water buffalo out of a line-up, but somehow it sounded like the most appropriate way to describe my new lazy, bloated body.
Here’s how I feel:
- My lungs are slowly being crushed. Do you know how embarrassing it is for a former cardio queen to gasp through everyday conversation? I feel pathetic and out of shape and gross.
- My ribs are in some sort of vise at all times. I alternate between slumping, trying to sit and stand as tall as possible, and leaning at varying angles. It’s not because I’m being kicked there. It’s because she’s stuck her limbs inside and is slowly spreading my ribs apart like she’s a pair of pliers.
- Queasiness has returned, except now it’s accompanied by uncontrollable hunger. As soon as my belly is empty, I don’t feel well. It’s enough to make me want to stuff my face at all times. And I do. And for all the pregnant women who say they feel oddly full after just a few bites? I wish I had that problem. My stomach fits the same amount of food as ever. It just regurgitates itself into my throat instead of digesting into my intestines like it used to.
- I am a fire-breathing dragon. Luckily for me, my heartburn comes and goes. Once I get it, it stays like an unwelcome uncle. And then nothing will touch it. Water, bread, milk – everything makes it worse.
- Nothing is coming out of me anymore. I eat and eat, and it doesn’t come out. I’m already at the maximum recommended weight gain for someone of my size, and I’ve still got a long ways to go. I’m not a particularly unhealthy eater – it’s really just not coming back out. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if I gain 50 pounds total. And because nothing is coming out, I constantly feel even more uncomfortably large and squished.
- There are lightning bolts in my crotch. Yep, I had no idea I could conduct electricity, but I’m doing it. Sometimes it feels like things are ripping, other times it feels like Zeus is in my body. Sharp, stabbing pains. Ones that take your breath away, and it’s difficult to carry on like this in a workplace environment.
- I feel like I finished a marathon but instead of being able to rest, someone is forcing me to continue walking for miles and days afterward. Sleep? What’s that? When every single thing on your body hurts and you can’t get comfortable, it’s pretty hard to come by.
I have been staunchly against inductions until this week, and now I think if my doctor offers to induce me for one reason or another I’m going to gleefully pounce and say, “DO IT.” I have so far to go, and I just want my own body back.
So how do I feel?
Fine. Just fine.