There are a few side-effects of pregnancy which I didn't know about before it happened to me:
- Insomnia. Sleep's never really been a problem for me before, even during particularly stressful periods at work, but since I've been pregnant, sleep can be elusive: often I'm awake at 3am, thoughts going round my head as insistently as a headache, with no apparent end in sight. (It's the hormones.)
- Kicking. Ah, what a delicate image! It's like butterflies, they (the books) said. No, it's not; it's like having a trampoline inside you with someone periodically jumping on it. Much as I enjoy the signs that he (for it's a boy) is active, and the sheer weirdness of the sensation, let's not be sentimental about it.
- Patronising language. According to medical staff (with a few rare exceptions), all pregnant women are "girls"; all doctors are male, and all nurses and midwives are female. The baby is "baby". Sometimes I have to remind myself it's not the 1950s.
- Guilt-trip marketing. It would be possible to spend a quite mind-boggling amount of money on equipment, and boy is there a lot of it. There are entire stores (out-of-town, of course) devoted to every little thing you may possibly need for your child, and a whole lot that you don't. And a lot of the marketing is couched in safety terms. Buy this, or "baby" will suffer!
- The demon internet. Not that I didn't already know this, but if you have any concerns about anything medical whatsoever, the last helpful place to look is an internet forum. Here, you will almost certainly discover that whatever you are worried about is decidedly abnormal, and will lead in the most terrible directions, all based on what experts (women who have had a baby themselves) are saying.
- Gestational diabetes. After a two hour test which involves drinking a glucose juice so horribly sweet I could feel it stripping my tooth enamel, and three blood tests, I've been diagnosed as a borderline case (my age, 43, being the major contributing factor) and am currently on a military-style regime of blood sugar self-testing and strictly timed, weighed and measured meals. If this fails, it's injecting insulin for me. (It's the hormones.)