Around 2 million years ago Homo Sapiens cropped up & we've been cranking out babies ever since, so you'd think by now - after at least 730,000,000M days of experience - there'd be zero mystery about the process. I mean, there's 7 BILLION of us with around 385,000 born each day, and we all got here the same way. But nope. Here I am six months in, clueless.
Never again can I poke fun at Eddie for his period/vagina questions since I've found myself Googling my way through this. Some searches are about the physical aspect, others social, some may seem obvious & others might interest you as well… so hop aboard as I go through the list of everything I've Googled so far about being pregnant, answers included.
Obligatory 'I am not a doctor'. Any medical type answer I provide in here is off Google, so just assume there's a caveat telling you 'Kate's still an idiot so check with your own doctor!!!'
1. What causes morning sickness & someone please smother me with a pillow instead
Short answer: Hormones, but no one really knows exactly. Sucks to be you!
Despite affecting 80% of us they STILL don't know the precise causes, but it seems to be a perfect storm of chemical messengers AKA hormones. There's ten main 'mones goofing around in there, which is fitting since you've become a walking clown car; Your tits are mega-sore, your estrogen levels explode which can cause a stuffy nose and/or blotchy skin, progesterone & relaxin kick off bouts of heartburn, indigestion, constipation and bloating. There's nausea, high sensitivity to smells, excess salivation…
The way I understand it, as the hormones prepare your body for what's to come they simultaneously tear you down, trapping you in a 24/7 hangover of epic proportions.
For about 4 months it felt like I was stuck in my own Groundhogs Day, constantly reliving the day after the Eagles' Super Bowl parade; I couldn't brush my teeth without vomiting, all I could stomach were dry, beige foods like saltines, and a man I'd slept with kept hanging around asking if I was ok. (Except I knew the guy this time.)
Bonus: Every time I'd hear Feits ralphing from across the office I'd find myself in the bathroom doing the same.
2. What's the etiquette for telling my bosses?
Short answer: Totally up to you until 30 days before the given due date, but the general consensus is 'sometime in the 2nd trimester'.
Up until 1978 your employers could royally screw you for being pregnant.. You could get fired, demoted, have your benefits chopped, all sorts of garbage. Thanks to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act there's now protections in place & legally you don't have to say anything to your bosses until submitting a leave request 30 days in advance of the birth (if they're covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act).
BUT… The 2nd trimester (weeks 13 - 26 out of the full 40ish) is usually best if you're comfortable with it. Plus there's perks if your coworkers are nice; Brandon Walker brings me a Popeye's biscuit almost every day now.
Because I wanted to talk about the 'pregnancy journey' (oooh, ahhh) on radio & blog I decided to tell Erika & Dave as a courtesy pretty early in the 2nd trimester, a couple weeks before I announced it publicly. I had zero concern of repercussions if I didn't, but personally I would have felt odd not mentioning it to them first.
Besides Dave asking me if this was 'a good thing or a bad thing' because I was so awkward in how I said it, neither really batted an eye & both were supportive. NBD. Since then it's been business as usual for me, as it should be for pregos everywhere.
3. Is it ok to continue taking Lexapro?
Short answer: Check with your psychiatrist & doctors first, but the general consensus is, yes, it's ok. The same cannot be said for all antidepressants so again, be sure to ask!
In true Kate fashion, the moment I found out I was pregnant I proceeded to panic, read all the wrong things online (wacky message boards) & chose to prematurely stop taking Lexapro before consulting with my doctor. She then assured me it would have been fine to continue taking it & even encouraged me to do so, because being mentally steady would only bolster me for everything else.
That being said, I was feeling alright & decided to continue going without, and I'm not sure if it's chemical changes or what but I've been ok. (Again, everyone is different, communicate with your doctors!) Yes, I ugly cry at the drop of a dime these days, but I'm able to separate pregnancy emotions from what depression feels like. My fella & I know to stay vigilant and in all honesty I'm pretty certain I'll need it again after the birth, but for now I'm riding out the good vibes (despite me looking like I'm hitting rock bottom 4/5ths of each day):
4. What can I take for headaches?
Short answer: Tylenol! YES to Tylenol. / Mostly NO - ibuprofin (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin, tripans
I've Googled this a million times now & still forget which one I can take (though I don't believe it's a catastrophe if you take the wrong stuff).
Via Mayo Clinic: Most pregnant women can safely take acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat occasional headaches.
Not Advised: Ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin & triptans (Imitrex, Amerge, Relpax). 'Doctors may prescribe these drugs during pregnancy, however, if the benefits to Mom outweigh potential risks to the fetus'.
This is the first time in my life where, along with an increase in headaches, I've gotten migraines where I see stars & what I'd describe as electric zig-zag versions of the top-of-Bart-Simpson's-head?? Turns out that's an ocular migraine & tons of people see that Bart shape. Weird. According to the interwebs we're more prone to this sort of stuff due to hormones, stress, lack of sleep, etc. Good times.
5. Why can't I take a dumper? For the love of all that is holy please help
Short answer: Hormones strike again.
Via Healthline: An increase progesterone causes the relaxation of your body's muscles. That includes your intestines. And slower moving intestines means slower digestion. And slower digestion means there's more time for you body to suck the moisture out of your bowels. And then your turds become rocks that live in your ass. And then those rocks create a boulder that fucks your whole world up because now not even Thor's hammer can get through your nugget dam. This can lead to constipation.
I legit had no idea this was a symptom of pregnancy and man, oh man, it's a vicious cycle. I'm super hungry a lot now so I cram down a bunch of food, then I feel sick, then I realize I still can't take a crap, so then I take a fiber pill and chug water, feel even more sick, and then I ride the subway into work in fear that I'll become the reason some other commuter tells their spouse, "You wouldn't believe the enormous pile of human dook I saw at 28th street station today". And then I get hungry again but I still haven't gone but I eat anyway knowing full well I'm creating a disaster scenario. In a sick twist, it seems the only time I ever feel like I might finally be able to go is 3 minutes before radio. "Chaps, buddy, please cover for me for like 5 minutes. Maybe 10. Maybe see if someone else can just run in for that first half, ha ha."
6. Is getting cramps after an orgasm normal?
Short answer: Yes, that's normal. You're fine. Sick brag.
From whattoexpect.com: 'Yes, and in most cases it’s par for the course. Cramping or painful twinges that may feel like contractions during or after orgasm in a normal, low-risk pregnancy are likely caused by increased blood flow to your abdominal area, as well as natural changes that make your cervix more sensitive.'
Though personally I wouldn't flip to the 'XTREME jack-hammer' setting with the ol' Hitachi any time soon, pretty much all-things-sex are fine.
Oh, and if your fella says he's worried he'll hurt/poke the baby be sure to humor him for at least 10 seconds to spare his dignity. (The baby is protected by your abdomen, and the uterus’ muscular walls, and is cushioned by the amniotic sac’s fluid. Promise his monster dong won't even get close.) (sure!)
7. Classic old people names for babies?
Short answer: Cornelius
For some reason I'm hooked on the idea of old man baby names or names that would look cute in cursive on a teeny-tiny mechanics outfit. Emmet, Clifford, Roscoe, Abner, Archie, Cecil and Leland have all been on my list at one point or another. Definitely need to give this some more thought.
8. Holy shit - Why are my nipp-a-roons (nipples) the size of trash can lids & why does it look like I dunked them in dark chocolate?
Short answer: It might help the baby find your nips. But again… It's a mystery chalked up to hormones.
Who knows if that's true but it makes sense? Like if the baby is an airplane and you're trying to get them to land on your runway (nipples!) it would help for hormones to do a 'lil renovation & upgrade your sensible chest-top Midways into a nice, honkin' set of mega O'Hares. This way the baby can spot 'em even through a thick fog of hangry tears. All I really know is, every time I get out of the shower & look at myself in the mirror it is STARTLING. Absolute units.
Random fun fact while I'm at it - Lots of us get small bumps on our nips, too, and they're called Montgomery's Tubercles. They're legit like hand sanitizer but for tits; they secrete antibacterial oil to keep things safe for feedin' so your baby's cleared for landing. Allegedly all this stuff shifts back to normal postpartum.
9. Why are my stomach and boobs itching?
Short answer: Bed bugs. Or rapid growth. Let's hope it's that second one.
A ton of this depends on your general body-build before you're pregnant, but according to Wonder your stomach grows about 1cm per week starting around week 20, so for the next 20 weeks your stomach expands by around 8 inches. (Looking at photos I'd say it's usually more, and there's cases where waist sizes have more than doubled. So far I've gone from 135lbs to 165lbs pretty quick and I'm not even close to done yet.)
That's some rapid growth for your skin to keep up with, so it begins to 'stretch' AKA slowly tear on the top layer. Unfortunately your nerves respond to skin tearing with itching because it dries out easily. The lovely Mrs. All Business Pete suggested I try Burt's Bees Belly Butter and it's been a lifesaver thus far.
10. If I'm cold does the baby get cold, too?
Short answer: Stop getting your car towed so you won't have to wait in the freezing, windy lot out by Willets Point for several hours at a time and being cold won't be a problem for you anymore. But no, the baby doesn't get cold.
Honestly I couldn't find an answer that directly addressed this because the question is so stupid, but it is something I did indeed Google in a panic after 4 hours shivering in line at the Queens tow lot last month. My guess is that no, we didn't make it this far as a species by not regulating our inner temp to protect our fetuses. Given, I never made it past 10th grade Field Biology, but in my mind it's sort of like how dude's bodies work hard to keep their balls at a certain temp to protect 'em. We might be cold on the outside but that baby is toasty (& mercifully oblivious to my vehicular shortcomings).
11. Should I be entertaining him to stimulate his lil' brain?
Short answer: Wh.. what?
I keep putting myself in his size .005 shoes & thinking how bored he must be. It's dark all day, not a lot of roaming space, no cell service. And yes, I realize the brain isn't fully developed but still, on some level they've gotta be bored.
To mix things up I sing to him in the shower (bangers only), do rogue jumping jacks & stretches, and shine my phone light on my belly button to give him some razzle dazzle glow from time to time, but is there anything experts know for sure helps?
Via the NestedBean: 'Listening to classical music during pregnancy might not make much of a difference but talking to your baby can. Language learning begins in utero, and studies have shown that parents who talk and/or read to their baby throughout pregnancy promotes early word recognition after they’re born.'
Basically, continuing to sing & talk to the fella is all I can do right now that will maybe matter. The only sure bet is choosing something to read aloud that's so incredibly stimulating he's sure to be entertained.
12. Are my cat's turds actually dangerous right now?
Short answer: Probably not.
After I announced the pregnancy publicly I'd get chirped or DMed every time I posted my cat, Spork, because people were worried about me contracting Toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a parasite that can infect most animals. Because the infectious organisms are excreted only in cat feces, wild and domestic cats are the parasite's ultimate host, and an estimated 60M Americans are estimated to have it. Thankfully it's often without signs or symptoms because our immune systems are strong enough, and we can't pass it to each other. That being said, it can harm babies if you contract it right before or during pregnancy, so I understand the concern.
From March of Dimes:
'If you get toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, you have a 30% chance of passing the infection to your baby. The later in your pregnancy you get infected, the more likely it is that your baby gets infected. But the earlier in pregnancy you get infected, the more serious the baby’s problems may be after birth.'
However for me and most pregos with cats the odds are pretty low and I'm not worried. Spork's an indoor cat not hunting/eating raw meat, I wear gloves & a mask (that's a little extra, but I do) when I change his litter box, & I always wash my hands. I also grew up around cats so it wouldn't be shocking to find I already got it & have been immune to it for a while.
And much to my delight the voice of reason in these convos was none other than PMT's Billy Football:
13. How to stop Restless Leg Syndrome
Short answer: No one really knows but I heard crying at 3am helps.
According to WebMD:
'Scientists don't know exactly what causes the sensations in the legs at night. But some believe it may stem from an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine. That chemical normally helps keep muscle movements smooth and even.
RLS in pregnancy might be triggered by a lack of enough folic acid or iron. There's also some evidence that rising estrogen levels during pregnancy may contribute to RLS.
Trying to calm your restless legs all night can make you sleepy and irritable during the day.'
Irritable, indeed. Much like the constipation thing, this was something I'd never heard of associated with pregnancy. (Friends with kids, why did you not bitch more to me while you were going through all this??) Being of low emotional intelligence I took to my Instagram stories to whine & talk about it & when I say I must have received at least 50 responses I'm not exaggerating. A lot of it was women commiserating with me, and there were tons of welcome suggestions.
A few gals told me to put bars of soap under my covers or in my socks (which I appreciated but don't understand AT ALL), and I also got notes about rubbing magnesium lotion on my legs, taking magnesium pills, stretches & light yoga before bed, eating more bananas, Tylenol, Icy Hot, etc… the list goes on & on. So far nothing has worked for me & there's nights I just give up & head to the recliner to binge watch shit TV until sunrise.
I'll start to close it out here as I've gone on long enough, but there's still so much more I've looked up… Which cleaning products are ok to use, exactly how much coffee is ok, can you accidentally squish the baby (someone accidentally picked me up during a heated Jenga game one day & I panicked), does the baby get 'annoyed' if you poke around on your stomach looking for them too much, why have I gained so much weight if the baby only weighs 1lb so far, why do I get cramps when I walk more than a couple city blocks, etc….
Every day something new pops up that has me on the interwebs seeking the comfort of knowledge. Just last night I freaked myself out so bad I wound up in the hospital for a quick minute. (I hadn't felt him move in a few days & Google essentially said, "This could be nothing bad! Orrrr this could be something real bad!" (The little guy was totally fine, but always best to go with your gut instinct & get things checked out. No shame to it & don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise!!!)
So maybe I'll do another as I accumulate more if there aren't too many comments reminding me this is Barstool SPORTS, not Barstool CERVIX GOSSIP.
Either way, I hope this helped at least one prego Stoolie out there know she's not alone if she's feeling utterly clueless along the way. It always brings me comfort when a parent at HQ reminds me, "No one really knows what they're doing." I sure don't but I also know we'll be fine.