Things They Don't Tell You About Being Pregnant

I can be quite a snob about my Chinese food. As the granddaughter of a first generation Chinese American who made a living by cooking for people, it’s no wonder my palate leans more heavily toward authentic Asian cuisine. My husband, on the other hand, is a Wisconsin native who would proudly list Panda Express as one of his top five favorite restaurants. It’s truly a miracle we’re still married.

So, you can imagine how concerned I became when I was randomly overtaken by a craving for orange chicken from Panda Express. The craving was so ravenous that I drove to that fake Chinese restaurant and devoured a plate of fake orange chicken with a side of fake fried rice like it was my purpose in life. That’s the moment I realized I was pregnant.


My instant need for fake Chinese food was just the first of many odd pregnancy symptoms I was not prepared to experience. I knew all about the stretch marks, heartburn, and morning sickness, but there were several other things that took me off guard.

1. Heart palpitations. I thought I was dying, y'all. But apparently this is a normal and not dangerous! A pregnant woman has a greater amount of blood in her body, which means her heart rate can increase up to 25% than normal. The result? Heart palpitations.

2. Stretch marks. I always thought stretch marks could be avoided with globs of shea butter or some other magical concoction, but that's completely wrong. Stretch marks are actually biological! My belly was lathered at all times, yet it began to look more like a pale zebra than the rotund midsection. To make matters worse, my belly grew large in such a short amount of time (and I'm 5'3" on a good day), which meant I woke up to a few ripped stretch marks one morning. Yes, you read that right - ripped. As in bleeding. 

3. Gestational diabetes. This one is another biological difficulty. I've always been active, eating healthy and exercising regularly. In fact, I had a personal trainer when I got pregnant and was weightlifting three times a week on top of my normal cardio circuits. But diabetes runs in my family, and gestational diabetes has more to do with the hormones in your placenta than how many donuts you eat. Nonetheless, once diagnosed, I was placed on a strict diet, I had to prick my finger four times a day to check my sugar levels, and I was put on medication. Let's just say, I will never underestimate the power of a good donut again. 

4. Postpartum hair loss. This technically happens after pregnancy, but it's still something that took me off guard. Like clockwork, my hair started falling out in clumps when my baby turned three months old. Apparently it's common for women to start losing their hair around three months postpartum, but NO ONE TOLD ME THAT. I had two noticeable bald spots for a couple months, but the hair has finally started growing back. 

5. Protective instincts. I knew I would be protective of my baby girl - a mama bear, if you will. But I didn't know just how instinctive this would be. I'm not over-protective, by any means. I have no problem leaving my screaming child in the church nursery while I participate in the service. I don't wash off her pacifier every time it falls on the ground, and I don't pick her up every time she whines. But a certain territorial tension rises up in my throat any time I feel she is legitimately unsafe, or in situations where our parental decisions are questioned, or when she is afraid. That protective instinct is raw and strong!

Pregnancy was a whirlwind, but the end result was worth all the unexpected symptoms. I would go through it all again to have my Penny-girl, but I sure am glad I don't have to!