9 Supposedly Normal Pregnancy Things I Have Not Experienced

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
The day we saw our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, I was six weeks pregnant, on the dot. We’d been trying to conceive for a full year, and it had been hard — with lots of emotional ups and downs, tons of money spent on pee sticks, and one fairly heartbreaking miscarriage. So catching a glimpse of that surprisingly strong thump-thump-thump made our hearts sing (and our inner type As loved hearing the doctor call this fetus an “overachiever,” as it’s not always possible to detect a heartbeat so early). We took the rest of the day off to celebrate, bopping around a sculpture park and the Noguchi museum in Long Island City, then heading to Astoria for a dinner of our favorite Greek food — and almost as soon as we sat down to eat, the nausea began. I could barely touch my food, and the taxi ride home was fairly excruciating. Considering I hadn’t had morning sickness during my first pregnancy, I was sort of comforted (it is, after all, a good sign) — but also filled with a bit of dread. Was I about to embark on 34 weeks of misery? Would all the pregnancy clichés turn out to be true?
In a word: No. In fact, a bunch of pregnancy side effects (both fun- and shitty-sounding) skipped me over completely, much to my surprise.
There’s a weird disconnect here — on the one hand, it’s almost a cliché in itself by now to say that no two pregnancies are alike; but on the other hand, our cultural depictions of pregnancy (and the questions we cannot stop asking pregnant people) still make it feel like there’s basically just one very specific pickles-and-ice-cream way to be pregnant.
Whether you’re pregnant and feeling… I don’t know, excluded from the narrative — or you’d just like to get a taste of truth regarding what pregnancy can actually be like, read ahead to discover 9 supposedly normal symptoms I have not (yet?) experienced over the course of 38 weeks of pregnancy.
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I ate a shit-ton of bacon in my first trimester, but not because I was craving it, exactly — it was because protein was the only thing that gave me some relief from the relentless nausea, and bacon was pretty much the only type of protein that didn’t really gross me out.

I can count on one hand the other “cravings” I had while pregnant: tuna melts (something I crave intensely at all times, pregnant or not, so that doesn’t count), a cheeseburger (on a first-trimester day when I didn’t have any protein at breakfast — makes sense), and a donut (after I walked by a donut cart, considered buying one, didn’t do so, and then couldn’t stop regretting it — something that also seems like a reasonable sequence of events during non-pregnancy).

So yeah, the closest thing I came to real cravings was something much less fun — let’s call it “the only food I can think of to eat right now that doesn’t utterly disgust me.” Luckily, morning sickness cleared up for me around week 13, but at that point, I went back to more-or-less normal eating patterns, with some exceptions (more on that later).
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To be honest, I’m not totally sure I understand what “nesting” is, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen to me. I delayed registering for baby gifts for as long as possible (overwhelming!) and while I did spend a hefty chunk of time on Pinterest looking at nursery ideas, it was mostly because I couldn’t find any that didn’t make me itch from the corniness. (Side note: Can someone please explain to me those pieces of framed typography art that say “For Like Ever”?)
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Pregnancy brain

If anything, thanks to eating well (post-Bacon Diet), regular exercise, and not drinking booze, my brain has been more on point than usual. In fact, I like to joke that I’m extra smart now because I have two brains. (No one said pregnancy enhances your sense of humor.)
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Eating everything in sight

Beyond my lack of fun and kooky cravings, I had another rude food-related awakening during my pregnancy: Starting sometime in my second trimester, I stopped being able to eat very much. If I had a large meal — especially in the evening — I’d feel horribly, uncomfortably full; I even started getting heartburn bad enough that I had to go on Prilosec (don’t @ me, medication-during-pregnancy shamers).

And the tough part was, I was still hungry: maybe not massively hungrier than my normal pre-pregnancy hunger, but hungry nonetheless. So at night, I just had to eat a little, ignore my rumbling stomach, and fall asleep dreaming of breakfast.
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Mood swings

Maybe I’m a robot, but I can’t think of a time when I’ve been more even-keel emotionally than during the past 38 weeks. The main thing I’ve felt is calm: neither ecstatically happy nor turn-on-a-dime upset. My dad apparently cries every time someone mentions the baby to him, but my normal tendency to tear up (it runs in the family) has been more or less MIA.
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Huge breasts

Just like every other rite of passage that’s supposed to involve a sudden swelling in the chestal region (puberty, starting hormonal birth control), pregnancy has been a massive disappointment for me. That is not to say nothing happened to my tiny boobs — they hurt like motherfuckers for several weeks, particularly in the first trimester. But sadly for me and my voluptuous dreams, that pain wasn’t an indicator of any kind of noticeable growth.
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Intense fatigue

On the plus side, my energy levels have been pretty steady — I haven’t been nodding off at 7:00pm the way some of my pregnant friends seem to do. I do get utterly exhausted and feel completely out of it for at least half an hour after a subway commute on a hot day, however. That shit's no joke.
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Being unusually horny

I’d rather not go into too much detail about my sex life on the internet, but let’s just say my libido has not changed since getting pregnant, and leave it at that.
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I am a Very Pregnant Person right now, but the vast majority of the time, you probably wouldn’t know it based on the way I move. I think this is partly because I haven’t gained a whole lot of weight (not intentional — see above re: my inability to eat) and partly because I’ve stayed very active and have kept my back and deep core muscles strong.

Two exceptions: 1) I do waddle if I really need to pee, and 2) I’ve recently had some pubic symphysis pain (which feels like a rusty knife stabbing me in the crotch!) pop up when I’m walking, and the only way to deal with it is to slow wayyyyy down and breathe deeply. That second one is also a fun way to fuck with people on the sidewalk — nothing like an extremely pregnant person shuffling along, wincing in pain, and blowing air forcefully through pursed lips to terrify a stranger.

Pregnant (and formerly pregnant) people: Am I weird? What supposedly normal pregnancy experiences totally skipped you over? Let me know in the comments.

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