Pregnancy turned out to be a lot harder on me than I expected it to be.

By By Caroline Chirichella
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Photo: Courtesy of writer

I have a confession to make, and I dare say it's probably going to reflect poorly on me: I didn't love being pregnant.

And I hate saying it. I've dreamed about being a mom ever since I was a little girl. Any time I got my period after my husband and I started trying to conceive, I would cry. So I feel guilty about feeling, thinking, typing, or saying those words.

Let me explain: My first three and a half months of pregnancy were absolutely miserable. I usually started my morning throwing up, some days as many as five times, leaving my throat burning. I actually kept a bucket next to my bed and sofa, just in case I might be unable to make it upstairs to the bathroom. (At least Amy Schumer can relate?)

Smells bothered me. Food that I once loved-hamburgers, roast chicken-became disgusting and needed to be cut from my diet. I was nauseated all the time. It would even bother me when my husband kissed me. I refused to wear certain shirts because they felt restrictive, especially anything above my collarbone. I was exhausted all the time. After I threw up, my husband or mother would have to pick me up off the floor and clean up after me. In the first three months of pregnancy, just when you're supposed to start gaining weight, I lost 6 pounds.

During months four and five, I found some brief relief. The nausea and vomiting finally stopped, but another surprise was in store: It was now spring and prime allergy season. I live in the Italian countryside, surrounded by trees, plants, and flowers. Sounds lovely, right?

Not so much. I've always suffered from seasonal allergies, but my pregnancy prohibited me from taking my prescription allergy medicines. As a result, I would wake up in the middle of the night with my nose so stuffed that I could barely breathe. I would blow my nose, lie down, and try to get back to sleep, only for my nose to run like a faucet within two minutes. My eyes itched and burned. I would take as many as three showers a day to scrub the pollen off myself. I stayed in some days just to avoid being outside.

Once I reached the six-month mark, the extra weight in my belly really started to hurt my back. Sitting was uncomfortable, but then again, so was standing. Even walking up the stairs in my house now felt like serious work-a particular shame since I was now getting up in the middle of the night to pee five (or more!) times, completely disrupting my sleep. (Sound familiar? These pregnancy sleep tips might be able to help.)

And forget about classic gastrointestinal issues such as gas, constipation, and heartburn: I was spending so much time in the bathroom that my husband started referring to it as my office.

Then came summer, and summer meant heat. And I have a terrible relationship with heat. I've nearly fainted from intense heat on several occasions, mainly because of my low blood pressure. Unfortunately, during pregnancy, it was much worse. I would be outside with my big pregnant belly, and suddenly I'd feel extremely light-headed and have to sit down and quickly get some protein or sugar in me.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me make something clear: At times I actually loved being pregnant. I loved going to the doctor every month to see our daughter grow. I loved feeling her move inside me and putting my hand on my stomach to feel all of her kicks and tumbles. I loved when my husband kissed and talked to my belly. I loved when my friends (and even strangers!) touched my belly. Blame my mood swings on the hormones for the roller coaster of emotions. (Here are even more fun ways that pregnancy changes your body.)

Even so, pregnancy turned out to be a lot harder on me than I expected it to be. So many of my friends got through pregnancy without a single annoyance, and naturally, I assumed my experience would be the same.

Of course, I know that everyone's pregnancy is different, but I feel otherwise misled. In reality, pregnancy is rarely like what you so often see in movies and magazines. I wasn't constantly glowing while sporting flirty dresses with a perfectly painted face-I was wearing the same maternity dress (because it was the only comfortable thing I had), my hair in a top knot (to hide the fact that I hadn't washed it), and my face framed with huge sunglasses (to cover up the fact that I had stopped wearing makeup altogether).

Even though I wish I loved being pregnant more than I did, I'm no less grateful about how fortunate I am. I know some women who would do anything to have a child. I also realize how lucky I am that my pregnancy-though brutal-proceeded without any more serious complications.

In the end, I have no regrets. It's all worth it. When I gave birth to my daughter in September and they showed her to me for the first time, with her eyes wide open and her mop of black hair, my memories of how tough my pregnancy instantly just faded away. And at that moment, I knew: I was ready to go ahead with my plan to give her a sibling.

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