At 40, you'd think I would know better. Or at least, not be so naïve. But upon discovering I was pregnant, I really thought the whole thing would be a breeze. Aside from the need for some looser fitting clothes, how difficult can pregnancy really be? Especially a vegan pregnancy? I'm a pretty healthy person. I can do this. But, it turns out, health means nothing when it comes to hormones and how the body responds to what's essentially, a human parasite growing inside you. And the effects of pregnancy run the gamut.
Every mother-to-be hears stories about the not-so-pleasant parts of pregnancy. The swelling. The moods. The unbelievably frequent need to pee (I mean, really?!). But ladies, that's just the tip the enormous iceberg-in-your-belly.
If you've ever taken any psychedelic medicines, you're no stranger to weird. But pregnancy takes the cake (and I haven't even experienced labor yet). In the same way psychedelic medicines connect you to what you might call "the bigger picture", pregnancy does as well, and on an even more profound level. You're literally a fractal of the universe, creating and nurturing life... It's a tripped out experience, to say the least.
Here are some of the more strange and psychedelic effects of pregnancy you can expect:
1. Seriously weird dreams: Dreams don't often make sense, but for me they have gotten even stranger since being pregnant. I've heard other mothers report the same thing. Some even experience nightmares. I haven't had any bad dreams, but incredibly vivid and bizarre ones that I spend way too much time thinking about. (Like a recent one where I was still pregnant but had just given birth to a secret operative named Hajib who was working on a government sting. I had to follow this pint-sized private eye around town as he looked for clues.)
2. Psychic Powers? Ok, I'm not exactly Uri Geller psychic (but I see you reading this on a computer, or a smart phone? Maybe reflecting off a bent spoon?). My midwife says pregnant women are seven times "more intuitive." And I've experienced that a lot lately. Picking up the phone a second before it rings, looking out the window right when my partner is pulling up…the coincidences abound. Some say it's our sense of awareness heightened by our need to protect our baby. (I say it's a way to earn some extra college funds for the little bean...Who wants the first reading?)
3. Super sensitivity: Similar to having a much more honed-in intuition, you also can expect to be way more sensitive than usual. This runs from the emotional, to the physical, and, ahem, to sex. All senses are heightened and strange, almost as if you're feeling them for the first time. This can be good and bad. Perhaps this too is to help the body better protect its cargo. The more your senses are heightened, the better capable you are to pick up on any threats as early as possible. It's completely weird.
4. A body goes kinda crazy: Like psychedelics can have profound (temporary) physical effects, these are just a few of the strange things that have happened to my body, all I'm told are "perfectly normal" effects of pregnancy: severely itchy and red eczema around my eyes that lasted more than a month; intense, incredibly brief chest pains that felt like I had been stabbed; unrelenting pain in my back; leg cramps at night; reoccurring pain in my left big toe; fingernails growing so fast they need cut every few days; bleeding when flossing; constant stuffy nose; dizziness; nausea; difficulty breathing; and the frequent uterine cramping that serves only to remind me the best discomfort is yet to come…
5. What? I can't remember shit! If I found a genie in a bottle, I'd hopefully remember to ask for infinite wishes. But lately, I'm not so sure. I know that I would for certain ask for all of my memories back (and the ability to forgot some for good). My memory sucks as it is; not a great quality for a writer, I am well aware. But compare my pre-pregnancy remembering skills with my current ability, and it's a pretty grim situation. The other day, I literally had to use a calculator to "confirm" that 6x3 was still indeed 18. I tried to put a clean knife "away" in my refrigerator. I once left the house with only one shoe on…the list is much larger than this, but I have a reputation to maintain...hopefully.
6. Invisible? This one's a little harder to verify, but I'm quite certain that one of the stranger effects of pregnancy includes the ability to disappear at random, without effort, even despite the challenge an expanding belly would seem to create. I've nearly been hit by more cars while pregnant than during the 8 years I lived in New York. I've even had pedestrians come dangerously close. On the bright side, at least no dog has mistaken me for a hydrant...yet.
Read the other installments of Vegan, 40, and Pregnant:
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Sacred Pregnancy