You’d think that a first pregnancy would be a fairly simple thing to conceal over the first few weeks of the nine-month odyssey. But you’d be wrong.
With no baby bump in sight at week eight, no one would ever guess that there’s a blueberry-sized person inside, multiplying by 100 cells per minute and creating ventricles in the newly developing heart that will last this kid for a lifetime.
So what–besides your own rabid desire to share the secret–is so hard about keeping an early stage pregnancy on the down low? Two words: Morning Sickness. Or, as it should be named in my wife’s case, Forever Sickness.
How young and foolish we were after getting that positive pregnancy test. “Well, lucky you! It seems that you’re avoiding that whole morning sickness thing! Let the good times roll!”
Fast forward one week and my wife is now spending more time hugging the toilet than she does hugging me.
Before watching my wife suffer through it, I had a very glamorized ideal of what morning sickness was all about. I figured a pregnant woman woke up feeling nauseous, eventually threw up and then felt fine for the rest of the day. The morning is over and so is the sickness. Then maybe the process starts over again the next day. Don’t get me wrong, that still sounds terrible, but not nearly as terrible as what my wife has been enduring recently.
The stomach turmoil starts before the sun comes up, making sleep nearly impossible and continuing right through the ring of our morning alarm. We’ve Googled the heck out of the subject in search of remedies and came upon the idea of eating something to settle the stomach before she gets out of bed.
The foldable snack tray that I used to eat dinner on in front of the TV in my bachelor days now contains a morning buffet line of foods for my wife–saltines, celery and peanut butter, bread, bagels, and more. Almost every morning, a menu item that previously did the trick is deemed unworthy, usually after it requires her to present another oral offering to the porcelain bowl.
Eventually it’s time to greet the day, whether her stomach likes it or not, and she attempts to get ready for work so we can get out of the house in time for me to catch my morning train. She brings along another care package of food for her morning commute–a 40-minute drive in heavy traffic–so she can report to her cube and try to concentrate on work while she battles her stomach in a never-ending war to resist the urge to upchuck or lie down. No one besides me knows that she is pregnant, so this battle is privately waged in public. This is no easy task when coworkers ask you to join them for lunch and everything they order looks disgusting. Or when the office is flooded with Christmas cookies and delectable treats from vendors, but the mere thought of something sweet leaves you feeling queasy.
So basically, my wife is a saint. She was already a saint when she helped me through similar side effects when I was undergoing chemotherapy, but now she is an invisibly pregnant saint who must soldier on through daily life while secretly enduring a much more intense version of what I experienced. After my six months of chemo and three months of remission, the shoe of suffering is firmly on the other foot…and it’s way too tight.
I want more than anything to ease her discomfort, but there’s little I can do besides obtaining more foods that solve her short-term problems until they eventually turn on her and join the steadily growing reject pile. Goodbye, chicken noodle soup. See you later, mashed potatoes. I hate this feeling of helplessness when someone I love so much is struggling so mightily, but no one ever said the work of creation was easy, and our baby seems to be working overtime in the fetal factory most days.
On Christmas Eve we had a double dose of relief, as we finally revealed our good news to my family and could stop lying about how my wife seemed to have a stomach flu that was lasting two weeks and why we were always flaking on plans, especially when there was eating involved. Even just in the two days that they knew before we left town to visit my wife’s family, it was nice to have a few extra people in our circle of trust, to help us fight the good fight against Forever Sickness and suggest some other foods that might help for a while.
When she returns to work in the new year and makes it known to her coworkers, hopefully that will also relieve some of the strain as they will presumably be more understanding of why she always looks like she’s about to throw up in meetings.
The second wave of relief came in the form of medication: Diclegis, a weirdly named pill containing an even weirder icon of a pregnant woman. But if weirdness works, don’t knock it. The pill is a combination of Vitamin B6 and doxylamine, and at least for now, it spells relief better than Rolaids.
After a few days on Diclegis, my wife is doing much better, though some days can still be a little rough, especially if she isn’t eating every hour or so. We’ve both been off of work between Christmas and New Year’s, which allows her to sleep as long as she can (she is a sleep monster these days!) and take her time getting out of bed. I can only hope that the Forever Sickness downgrades to Usually Sickness or Sometimes Sickness, or heck, even Morning Sickness, so my wife can lead a more normal, comfortable life for the rest of the first trimester.
Given her stomach’s rudeness to food, she is currently the skinniest pregnant woman you have ever seen. I don’t think that’s really the goal here…
Got a hot tip for defeating morning sickness? By all means, leave a comment!