how are you feeling?

When you are pregnant, people ask how you are feeling. Whereas normally, small talk would start with "How are you?," growing a baby means that suddenly everyone asks, "How are you feeling?" with a lot of emphasis poured into that last word. I was surprised when this started happening, and even more amazed to realize how universal it is. Everyone wants to know how I am feeling.

Sometimes, I pretend to not know what they are asking. Pleasant obliviousness is my favorite form of passive aggressive behavior. I brightly say, "Fine! How are you?" Most times they respond and we have a normal conversation. Sometimes they blink in confusion, say they are fine, then ask again about me, being more explicit that they want baby information.

Other times, I tell them how I am feeling. Usually, it's when I feel crappy. But no one likes this either. Just like when someone asks how you are, you're supposed to just say something short and generally positive, no one likes to hear a pregnant lady complain. They don't want to hear about nausea or back pain, much less some of the more, ahem, intimate symptoms of pregnancy.

Recently, I have hit upon the perfect answer. I just say I feel pregnant, with a touch of weariness. Pregnancy is a whole-body condition. Countless times in the last six months, I've googled a symptom, and the second auto-suggestion is always the symptom followed by the word "pregnancy." And then when I research further, the answer is always hormones. I've started to get used to this, but my sweet husband always wants to diagnose me with something else.

Gastrointestinal issues, including heartburn and any-time-of-day sickness, are caused by progesterone. See, my organs have got to move around a bit, so the hormones make them a bit more malleable. I haven't had problems with any of that for a few months, but I hear it can come back. I honestly don't even know where my stomach is at this point, as my innards are all rearranged. I've also had a stuffy nose for months, which is apparently estrogen's fault.

And the itching. I've had dry skin issues during the winter since I was a teenager, but this is a whole new level. It has to do with my skin stretching. So not only do I writhe around like a bear against a tree, I get to imagine that my scratch marks will eventually turn to stretch marks. I make Josh slather me up with moisturizer every night. The lotion I bought didn't seem to be helping, so we started using the Bag Balm we already had in the house, which was made to be used on cow udders. It helps, but I smell like bovine medicine.

And then there relaxin, which is a hormone and not some kind of OTC pain relief. See, normally, the bones in the pelvis are stable and all tightly connected. But at some point, I'm going to try and push a person through there, so relaxin loosens up my joints so they can open up to allow passage of a big-headed baby. I'm sure I'll appreciate the relaxin then, but for now, it sucks. It makes my crotch bones hurt, which is basically a new kind of pain for me. There are lots of positions that I can no longer be in without pain. The worst is trying to sleep. Sleeping on my stomach is right out, and sleeping on my back means the baby is cutting off blood vessels that bring blood...to the baby (way to go, Baby). But if I turn on my side, I have to have a pillow between my legs, because of the crotch bone pain. A night's rest is now waking up every couple of hours to roll over (increasingly difficult) while keeping the pillow. Also, I may have to blow my nose and apply some chapstick. Sometimes I go back to sleep, and sometimes I stay awake awhile and panic about the approaching end of my life as I know it.

Also, there is something in my body poking me. Sometimes it's a quick jab, like lunch returning on you. Other times, it is a punch to the bladder. Lately, it's been more like a push. It's uncomfortable, so I push back on the little foot or knee or whatever, and it will retreat. I feel a little guilty when I do this, because clearly someone is just running out of room in there, but seriously kid, that feels really weird. It's uncomfortable, but it does bring it home that there is an actual tiny person in there with actual tiny body parts. I can't compare this to getting some bad Taco Bell, unless you've ever had a gordita try to escape through your abdominal wall.

So that is how I am feeling. You didn't really want to know, did you?

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