Pregnancy: A Treasure Trove of Terrifying Ailments
Let’s get disgusting, shall we? Last week, I developed a totally bizarre and (I thought) inexplicable* rash just above my ankles. Complaining about it to my boss (TMI for the workplace?) elicited one of her most common responses for nearly all our topics of conversation: “One more reason not to have kids!” She, who has a child of her own, went on to explain that pregnancy causes your body to flare up with all kinds of crazy ailments that can’t be readily explained or controlled.
Five years ago, this wouldn’t have scared me in the least. Namely because I was foolish and arrogant enough to think I’d be the miracle of modern health who wouldn’t be afflicted by the bodily woes of pregnancy. I’d had the benefit of two and a half decades of impeccable health, my college hangovers rivaling the occasional bout of flu for Most Debilitating Affliction. And then…
I guess I got old. My streak ended. I won’t bore (or disgust) you all with the details, but I developed an inflammatory condition and spent the better part of two years on various slabs of butcher paper in a tissue of a gown, waiting for yet another doctor to tell me they couldn’t find a cause or a cure. They started me on two medications that manage the symptoms, but will never obliterate whatever it is that’s attacking my body.
[note: the number of medications featured in this photo do not speak to the severity of my condition. They speak only to the severity of my laziness in cleaning out my medicine cabinet and are featured here only for dramatic purposes.]
After years of rolling my eyes at other people’s hay fever, gluten allergies and lactose intolerances, I joined the pain-in-the-ass-diet and multi-medication club. Quite frankly, I was pissed. My body had betrayed me. Coming home from what must have been the tenth different doctor I’d seen in the span of a few months, I allowed myself a little boo-hoo-poor-me session of tears. And friends, I don’t cry easily. [I just watched Brian’s Song for the first time last week without so much as a tightening of the throat. My heart is made of granite.] But this was different. It was a feeling of helplessness the likes of which I’d never experienced.
And now someone’s telling me I’m going to have to navigate a veritable battlefield of uncontrollable ailments if decide to get pregnant? A quick search pulled up these glorious accompaniments to the with-child condition:
- Itchy skin
- Water retention
- Vericose veins
Most of these are entirely temporary, and (as with most things in life) as long as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can deal with it. But what about that inevitable weight gain that seems utterly impossible for some new moms to lose? If I can’t return to my pre-pregnancy figure no matter how carefully I follow my old diet and exercise regimen, am I going to feel as helpless as I did in those doctors’ offices? What if some of the other items on the list above become permanent fixtures as well?
It seems small of me to let something that most people would consider a relatively mild issue enter into the decision of something so big. And I would have thought the same thing, if I hadn’t already been so blindsided at how awful it feels to have things going on in your body that are entirely out of your control. Maybe I’d have the same luck my Mom had with us three kids and feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life while pregnant. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t.
*The rash culprit? A tiny free sample of lotion that lived in my purse for approximately four years before I slathered it on my legs en route to, of all things, a baby shower. Omen? Or sheer coincidence?