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Weird Stuff Happens to Your Pregnant Body

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

See that photo on the right? Those are my thankles (thigh-ankles). They’re bigger than calf ankles, or cankles.

I had terrible edema with my first baby starting in my first trimester; I’ll never forget what my then-OB said when I asked her about it. “Welcome to motherhood!”

Motherhood? Motherhood brings on swollen ankles? I think she meant to say, “Welcome to pregnancy!” But she never gave me more than 5 minutes of her time, which is one of the reasons I don’t see her anymore (that, and she misread my 20-week ultrasound, but that’s another story for another blog post).

This time I got lucky—the edema didn’t get really bad until the third trimester. By the time I get home from a 9-hour workday, my legs have swollen to three times their regular size. It’s pretty sexy—I can’t wear boots other than Uggs at this point, and regular shoes don’t have a chance, so on nicer days all I can get over my feet are flip-flops, and even they leave dents!

But I’m not complaining. For the most part I feel pretty good—especially yesterday, I felt lighter on my feet oddly, until about 3 o’clock.

Plus: My Birth Plan

My mom keeps telling me to lay off the salt. I keep telling her that telling an 8-months-pregnant woman to cut salt out of her diet is like telling her to stop being pregnant—it’s simply not happening at this juncture. And for the record, I don’t deliberately eat a lot of salt, though feta cheese and tuna fish are my two biggest cravings this pregnancy. Thankfully, my OB says I can have anything in moderation. I love my OB. The joys of a second pregnancy? You don’t care as much about all the what-ifs with food, so I’ve been following his advice.

I also asked him if there’s anything I should do for the swelling, and he wasn’t at all concerned. Believe me, this isn’t salt-induced. This is my body at 36 weeks pregnant. If you think my thankles are big, you should see the rest of me. I’m huge. That plateau with my weight gain the doctor keeps telling me will happen, hasn’t happened yet. But other than elevating my feet above my heart, which is an impossible way to sit at work, there’s nothing I can do but get through these last few weeks.

The other weird thing that’s been happening to me lately? Charley horses so severe I’ve considered taking a kitchen knife and amputating my own leg. OK, not really, but I have thought about telling my husband to call an ambulance. Has anyone ever gone to the hospital for a bad charley horse? Seems reasonable to me.

Plus: This is 39

I’ve been having them my entire pregnancy, but am usually able to catch them when I feel them starting to happen, by getting out of bed as quickly as possible (which these days is a joke) and walking around the house until it subsides. Flex your foot! Do not point it! That’s my rule of thumb.

The other night I was circling the condo for 30 minutes, I couldn’t even stop to grab a water because every time I tried the cramp in my foot got much worse. And by worse, I mean excruciating. When your toes curl up in different directions and resemble something out of a horror movie—like your body’s been possessed—it’s kind of scary. Preston had never seen me like this; pacing and pacing, sweating, unable to stop to talk to him; he thought I was playing a game of chase.

There are much weirder things that happen when you’re pregnant, like hemorrhoids for example. This is what I don’t get: Don’t you have to poop to develop hemorrhoids? I can count on one and a half hands how many times I’ve pooped during this pregnancy. So where are the hemorrhoids coming from? Oh, and constipation. Oh man, nothing worse than being huge and pregnant AND constipated, like you need another reason to feel bloated.

And the severe heartburn that keeps you up at night!

And what about the lack of hair loss on your head, which most women like, but for me it’s a bit of a nuisance since I already have a lot of hair? We're going to have one clogged drain when it finally falls out.

Plus: The Age Gap

And the alarming size of your nipples, which also change colors and start to look very unattractive as the pregnancy wears on. My son loves to stare at my boobs when I’m getting dressed, but thankfully hasn’t commented on how different they look yet, other than to say, “Mommy, I love your boobies! I love your belly!” 

I consider myself lucky I don’t get that black line down the middle of my tummy, and no noticeable stretch marks to speak of (which is shocking considering the size of my belly). I’m not complaining! But I do often wonder, considering its size, how is it ever going to shrink back without leaving a lot of sagging skin. Will it? It will, right? Right???

Moms or moms-to-be, what are some of the weirder pregnancy symptoms you've experienced? Let's compare notes!