My three kids have grown into teenagers and — though I wouldn’t get pregnant again now, even if science made it possible and you paid me a lot of money — every now and then, I feel a little nostalgic. Here are 13 reasons why I miss being pregnant.
1. I didn’t have to hold in my stomach.
I didn’t realize how much I held in my abs until I got pregnant and stopped. I couldn’t wait to “show,” so sucking in was the last thing on my mind. With the first baby I checked my waistline every day, hopeful for signs of a paunch. By the third and final baby, I showed ten minutes after peeing on the stick and went straight into maternity clothes. People saw the telltale empire waist seams and stretch-belly panel and asked how far along I was. I proudly answered: five weeks. My rapid expansion was less fun later when they’d remark, “wow, any day now, huh?”…and I still had three months until my due date. (By the way, due dates for my babies only marked the day I would begin strategizing an eviction plan for my little squatter.)
2. It was OK to sleep a lot.
All other exhaustion from activity or illness will forever be compared to what I call “pregnant-tired.” Aside from being injected with a strong sedative, no other condition has knocked me out cold like early pregnancy tiredness; and no sleep has ever been as satisfying.
3. Even while I slept, I was accomplishing a noble, miraculous task.
I was growing a human. Sitting in a chair? Yep, also working wonders.
4. People smiled at me for no reason.
I enjoyed the adoring look in strangers’ eyes. The look of knowing approval and compassion. I’m not sure my own mother ever looked at me like that. Of course, it was undeserved. These strangers didn’t know me. I could’ve been a serial killer, but I was expecting so they projected onto me all their feelings about pregnancy. This was great unless it was a woman who couldn’t get pregnant, then I might see sadness or resentment, which I could relate to. When we first decided to start a family, I didn’t get pregnant immediately. I panicked. I created color-coded charts and graphs of my temperature, cycle and ovulation test results. I kept diaries of symptoms, actions — I was a lot of fun. Seven months into trying and I was a rabid, foaming animal obsessed with conception. Like a cruel hidden-camera joke, every single woman I saw around town was pregnant or had a baby — at least that’s how I remember it.
5. My skin looked great.
After week 16, when I was no longer green with nausea, I never looked better.
6. I was lauded for eating.
…and encouraged to eat for two. The trouble with eating for two was, when the baby left, she never took her share of the extra food I so thoughtfully consumed for her. I was stuck with all the leftovers. What a shock it was when, after giving birth, I hadn’t even lost the seven or eight pounds the baby weighed. It was confounding. Every time.
7. I received special treatment.
I was given preferential consideration for seating, air conditioning, waiting times, riding instead of walking, eating. It was the closest thing to being royalty I’ll ever experience.
8. Reserved parking spaces for pregnant women — one benefit I did NOT receive.
They hadn’t invented these when I was having babies. I got the opposite — my doctor told me to park farther away and get more exercise. The “parking for mothers with small children” also came too late for my brood. I predict there will be “parking for parents of teens” in about six years.
9. “Now” was not the time to lose weight, even if I needed to.
Procrastination in this matter was altruistic. I certainly couldn’t diet. Restrict calories? That would have been like putting my baby on a diet. Child abuse! Pass the potatoes.
10. Everyone suggested I put my feet up.
I appreciated this since my ankles were purple with vascular issues. No one knew this unless I told them, though, because my legs were sequestered inside quarter-inch-thick compression stockings to control my varicose veins.
11. It was OK to naval-gaze — literally.
I sat back and watched my baby poke and stretch against my abdomen. I tried to guess if it was an elbow or a heel protruding. I saw my whole belly jump and shift as the baby flipped inside. It never got old.
12. Going to the hospital was a celebration
…unlike rushing to the hospital with a hurt child or doubled over with diverticulitis — which has no upsides. That’s not to say women on the maternity ward don’t experience pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, surgery, stitches, mental health issues, sleeplessness, hallucinations, swelling, dislocated tailbones, blood loss, severe itching from pain medicine and bouts of uncontrollable crying. Right? Maybe that was just me. Either way, I left with what I had longed for my whole life: a baby.
13. My children were safe and satisfied…and quiet, inside the womb.
Once they were on the outside, all bets were off.
— Sarah Press Dickerson
Sarah disappointed her family many years ago by not becoming a doctor of any type. She instead followed her heart and has enjoyed an illustrious career as a stay-at-home mom of three for the past 18 years. Sarah is a humor essayist who lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia. Read more of her essays at Sarahdickerson.com.