I am pregnant. I’m writing in my first trimester, but by the time you read this I will be in my second trimester because even though the first trimester is when you feel most sick and tired it is important to hide your condition at all costs. Otherwise, if you miscarry, you will have to smear your unsightly and disruptive woman sadness around the public realm, causing everyone much discomfort and wasting productive capitalist units of time on things like sympathy and peer support.
I didn’t actually hide being pregnant. I told many parties, both interested and uninterested, that I was trying for a baby as soon as I yanked my nuvaring out and also gave my luckiest confidants regular updates on the vicissitudes of my menstrual cycle. Colleen remarked, “when you do get pregnant, it’ll be the least surprising pregnancy of all time.” (She still acted a bit surprised when I texted her the minute I peed on the stick, but this is only because she is nice.)
Let me tell you everything I have learned about the miracle of reproduction so far.
1. How do you get pregnant?
You need an egg and a sperm and uterus. You have to find all three from somewhere. Luckily, my boyfriend and I had everything between us, so we streamlined the process and saved ourselves some cash. But there are actually lots of ways to find the stuff you need – you can borrow bits, buy bits, ask a friend to sort you out – so don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients at home.
Next, you want to mix the egg and the sperm and the uterus together. You can go lo-fi, like me and my Frenchman, and just sort of rub the body parts with the egg and the sperm and the uterus in them against each other for a while. It’s a bit haphazard, and it doesn’t usually work immediately, so you want to make sure that the person you’re doing it with is someone you can spend a lot of time around without getting annoyed.
You can also buy some simple DIY equipment – turkey basters, thermometres, whatever – and add a bit of precision to the process. This is especially good if you don’t live in the same house as the person who has the other ingredients or if you’re very busy. If you’re really fancy you can go the professional route and have medical experts do the mixing for you. Cons – expensive. Pros – shinier babies.
We were about 3 or 4 months into the simple lo-fi rubbing strategy when I decided maybe I could do with some help. So my witch friend made me a fertility charm using things like rosehips harvested after the first snow and menstrual blood. I carried it around during the day and put it under my pillow at night. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while you might like to get a witch friend to make you a fertility charm. Or, alternatively, you could start taking your basal temperature and monitoring your cervical mucus and testing your urine for luteinising hormone to accurately predict when you’re ovulating. I know people who did this and they had good results too.
I also asked my Mum for some advice. Not only because she herself made three high quality babies back in the 80s, but also because she’s worked at a family planning clinic for four decades and has probably got more people pregnant than Genghis Khan. Mum says that the big mistake people using the lo-fi reproductive method make is they wait for ovulation and then go at it like rabbits. She says that you should start around day 9 of your cycle and then sploodge everything together only once every three days until day 19. So we gave this a go too.
Now, whether because of the rosehips wrapped in magical knicker cloth or because of Genghis Mam or just because the universe wanted to punish me by sending me a Virgo child,* the month of the fertility charm and the three day sperm replenishment period was the successful one.
2. What is it like being pregnant?
Do you feel like throwing up? Are you tempted to lie down on the floor under your desk for a little nap? Are your friends trying to make you go to the pub but you don’t want to go to the pub? Congratulations, you are either pregnant or hungover. Maybe both.
The advantage to being pregnant is that you get a prize at the end. The advantage to being hungover is that you’ll feel better soon.
Being pregnant feels exactly the same as a medium sized white wine hangover. It is now my strongly held belief that the skills required for early pregnancy are best learned by spending your teenage years and twenties shitfaced and still turning up for work on time.
Some people get food cravings. For my part, I keep dreaming about pints of Guinness. This could be because Guinness has iron in it, but then again so do my maternity vitamin pills and I’m not dreaming about them.
A positive thing I will say about being pregnant is that I’m in a really good mood almost all the time. This could be hormones. It could be because I’ve stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine and eating refined sugar. Or it could just be because I’m really happy about having a baby.
Only one of my boobs is bigger, but it looks deadly.
3. How do you prepare for the fact that your life is about to be ruined sorry changed?
When you look at it obliquely, there are actually lots of good things about ruining sorry changing your life by having a baby. I mean, you won’t be able to go anywhere or do anything for years anyway so you might as well get that dog you’ve always wanted.
I have thus far prepared for parenthood by amassing literature on child-birth and infant care. The books are stacked in an impressive pile beside the couch, their messages slowly absorbing into my bloodstream as I continue to read sci fi novels.
I also made a will. It leaves everything to a local cats’ home, because if I die I want the child to learn to stand on its own two feet.
Speaking of cats, you need to have some straight up and honest conversations with your snookums fluff, explaining that she’ll be getting a little brother or sister, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t love her. Omit information about the dog adoption for the moment.
You should start thinking about names because you don’t want to panic and impulse buy a shit one at the last minute. You should not, however, tell your brothers any of your favourites because they will start saying things like, “Maaaawde, Maudlin Mawdie” or “Sure you can’t call a baby Maude; the thing will never smile.”
In fact, don’t tell anyone any of the names. Just wait until Aphonsius Aloysius is already on the cert and then they have to pretend to like it.
But seriously, I was kind of up for having my life ruined. I’ve been to a lot of nightclubs, you know? I’ve stood in a lot of fields at 5am watching the sunrise and feeling my soul syncopate with the fading stars. I’ve trekked to far away places and moved cities and moved countries and moved countries again. Having a baby is an excuse to stay still for a bit, to sit home on Saturday nights drinking ovaltine and watching wild life documentaries.
It’s what I’ve been dreaming of. Even more than Guinness. And I’m ready.
* I have nothing against Virgos. My witch friend is a Virgo. My best Órla is a Virgo. It’s just that I know Virgos enjoy things like alphabetical order and cleanliness and administrative organization, and I am scared I will not live up to the baby’s standards.
This is brilliant! Good luck with all the other trimesters, I look forward to reading all about it. Virgos ain’t so bad, baby will think you’re normal for the first few years anyway so don’t sweat the small stuff!
Thank you! That’s why I’m having a baby actually, because then someone will think I’m normal for a while. Well, that and the dog.
Hurrah! The whole child-having thing is deep and amazing and powerful and weird and joyous. It’s true that you don’t read as many really hard books or see so many bands or go to the wilderness so often, but most of that stuff will wait for you and you’ll have a kid to do it with later.
Well. Some of it. The bits the kid likes. But then they will probably be such good company that you’d be happy to do anything with them.
Aw, this is just a lovely comment. Usually people who already have kids say “good luck” in a slightly ominous tone, so your input is reassuring.
My sister is a Virgo. She’s weird. But she’s also my best friend and pretty awesome so….congratulations!
Thank you! I both adore and am afraid of Virgos. I suppose this might be a good emotional combination for a parent.