As I’ve been experiencing those bizarre, contrasting energy sucking negative aspects of pregnancy, it’s obvious that I’m well into the third trimester. Sometimes, you just need to make a list of perks that make carrying around 17+ extra pounds and dealing with vertigo along with other negative pregnancy symptoms worth it.
*Let’s be real: being pregnant in the U.S. and being pregnant in France are really not That different. That is to say that we all have days when we’re ready for anytime after the 38th week. From 38 weeks and on, the baby is officially at full term; she can be delivered at any moment! I have about 3 more weeks left until the countdown begins (of course, it’s important to remember that in France the maximum length of time is 41 weeks; it’s 40 weeks in the U.S.)!
Throughout my pregnancy, I read a ton of articles on what to expect and I must admit that I had my doubts on a few of the perks. Thick, glossy hair? Me? HA, yeah right. They were right. I swear! A quarter of the 17 pounds I’ve gained since being pregnant has probably come from hair growth, er lack of hair loss. This leads me to wonder: What other perks have I noticed? Because, obviously, perks are like ants – once you’ve experienced one, there’s a whole ant-hill of them that follow. (I hate ants; I don’t hate perks.) And now, in the midst of third trimester contrasts, I really need to make that list – as a reminder that although pregnancy can be as irritating as having an ant problem (nausée, vertigo…etc), pregnancy also has its perks.
The Perks of Pregnancy (that I’ve experienced):
- Naturel, glossy hair – I’ve decided to embrace this perk and let my hair grow out. At the beginning of my pregnancy, my mother-in-law informed me that it will be “very important to keep up with hair cuts” because my hair will get “too long too fast.”Honestly, I’ve never had thick hair, so, aside from the occasional trip to the coiffeuse, or hair stylist, to clip those split ends, I’m not planning on changing the length any time soon. After all, once the baby is born, that ‘thickness’ will return to ‘thinness’. So, why not profit from it while I can?
- Glowing skin – Recently, my mother-in-law told me that, without looking at the baby bump, it’s obvious I’m pregnant because the “pregnancy glow” can be seen in my facial skin. I took this as a complement because I’ve been ‘blessed’ with dry skin. In fact, I have eczema. Thankfully, there are skin sensitive products from companies such as Dove and Lush that help me combat this very irritating issue (pardon the pun). Before being pregnant, my facial skin was dry, yet I would get pimples because the skin would work extra hard in trying to compensate for this dryness. I managed to find an excellent lotion from Lush that turned this issue upside-down. And then the lotion was discontinued because U.S. laws required anything with the label “can protect the skin from the sun” to be tested on animals (oh, my luck!). Thankfully, Lush is against animal testing. After some time, I managed to find another lotion, called Helping Hands (Coup de Main at Lush in France), from Lush that works just as well. Don’t be taken aback from the title. It only has Hands in the title because it’s such a strong hydrating lotion that it’s target market is for the prevention/healing of dry, cracked hands that come during the harsh winter months. But, I’m telling you: IT WORKS AMAZINGLY FOR THE ENTIRE BODY! Don’t believe me? Try it. Anyway, since I’ve been pregnant, the pimples have practically disappeared (except for 1 because it’s been so hot in Aix that I’ve been sweating profusely)! I continue to use the lotion, but I’ve discovered that my body is no longer trying to overcompensate for its dryness (Yay!). There are some pregnant women who end up with more pimples because of this “glow” aspect; however, I’m thankful that this added “glow” business has helped solve my problem.
- Big breasts – I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve been blessed with small breasts. Being pregnant has made me appreciate my small breast size even more. Honestly, I don’t how women who started out big (say, a D cup) can really live comfortably for 9 months (plus the months full of milk afterwords)! Any pregnant (or previously pregnant) women out there who started out big, please feel free to explain how you handled the extra weight! Throughout my pregnancy, my breast size has increased at least one and a half + sizes. When I try to imagine starting out with a D cup and then increasing one and a half sizes, I cringe! Even with my small breasts, I’ve had soreness, backaches, chest-aches… you name it! Now, I realize why my small, thin stature was blessed with small breasts (I could do without all the aches). I understand all too well that there really are biological/natural reasons why certain women were just not made to have big breasts. Although, this seems like more of a negative aspect to pregnancy, the perks of bigger breasts outweigh the pain! For example, from conception up until 7 months, I was able to wear all of my pre-pregnancy shirts. In fact, I gained most of the baby weight after 7.5 months, so, I certainly embraced not having to buy a lot of maternity wear. My shirts fit so much better now (well, before 7.5 months came) than they did before my breast size increased. It was so nice to finally be able to fit perfectly into Everything! Maybe, being able to fit perfectly into all of my tops has something to do with reason why everyone gives me this complement (even now, with my big belly): “pregnancy looks so good on you!” Well, when tops aren’t too big, I guess that helps in the ‘looks good’ department. On a side note, I’m still getting used to the heavier, sensitive part of having “pregnancy” breasts (aka bigger breasts due to lactation). It’s been 8 months and I’m still not used them! There are days when they’re just so sensitive that they become perky. It’s bizarre.
- Desire (in all senses) for partner – There are some things that never really change once you’re pregnant: Sexual desire for your partner is one of those things. Sure, I’ve heard and read stories about pregnant women who lose their libido during pregnancy, but, thankfully, that is not my case! Continuing to desire my partner (and, obviously, vice-versa) is one thing that has helped keep me positive during this pregnancy. I became pregnant for a reason (we had sex and viola), so, it would be stupid to disregard this perk of pregnancy. Unless there’s a medical reason, sex doesn’t just disappear for 9 months. In fact, there’s more blood circulating in a pregnant woman’s body, so, in some ways, this makes sex feel better despite the awkwardly amusing search for comfortable positions. Also, the stress about trying not to get pregnant disappears (after all, it’s too late to worry about whether or not you took your birth control pill this morning), which certainly releases a whole new wild side. Sexual desire is not the only type of desire that a pregnant woman experiences for her partner. The perk of pregnancy is that desire in all senses for your partner – emotional, physical, etc… – never change. In fact, I will go as far as saying that continuing to desire my partner has pushed mon chéri and I closer and closer together. After all, ‘desire’ can be linked to ‘need’. We need each other, so, as a result, we feel secure, safe, loved (in all senses), protected, cared about, etc… all of which make the future (raising a child in today’s divided society) seem less scary and more livable. Also, just because I’ve gained 8kg/18lbs hasn’t changed our love for each other. In fact, feeling and experiencing his love for me lowers my stress levels (thank you, Oxytocin (and THIS article)!) thus lowering the stress that the baby feels. Just the other day, Fly Love by Jamie Foxx came on the radio. What does mon chéri do? Take my hand and dance with me. Even in our petit studio we find a place to romantically slow dance. I could go on and on with examples showing our love for each other, after all, when you’re so in love, it’s all you think about, so, naturally, that’s really all you want to talk about. But, I won’t bore you with sappy lovey-dovey stories. Instead, I’ll leave it at: It’s really the little things we do for each other that form the supporting rocks of our relationship. So, obviously, desire for one another is only heightened throughout our pregnancy.
- Your partner transitioning into daddy-mode (this is our first child) unfolds before your eyes! – This pregnancy perk is something I discovered at some point during the second trimester and it has only exploded into something wonderful. Before becoming pregnant, I never thought that seeing mon cheri care about a baby he hasn’t even met yet (aside from seeing her during the ultra sounds) would add to the positive aspects of being pregnant. But, it’s such an amazing feeling! There’s just something about the way he talks to my belly (at first, this was weird and took a bit to get used to), tenderly caresses my belly, sings to my belly, his morning, “Bonjour Pitchoune, c’est Papa!” (which is always after he says good morning to me… so, he has his priorities in excellent line 😉 ), the cute noise he makes when he sees her moving around in there and then puts his hand on my belly to feel her… I could go on and on. It all just makes me so happy. Even when I’m really stressed or anxious, he just knows how to calm me down: “Pitchoune, be nice to your mommy. She’s been carrying you around for 8 months, so, let her relax…” *Sigh, gets me every time.
- Longue, gorgeous nails – Well, they’re gorgeous as long as they’re kept clean. During the first trimester, I noticed my fingernails growing faster. They not only grow faster, but they’re also stronger! This means that I have less fingernail breaks! *Does happy dance. This is a blessing and a curse. Obviously, it’s not only Finger nails that grow faster… let’s not forget about those good ol’ toenails! This wouldn’t pose a problem if there wasn’t that big pregnant belly in the way…clipping my toenails has become a workout.
- Having a Baby Shower hosted for you! – I consider this is a pregnancy perk because I live so far away from family and friends. I can’t thank my cousine and my belle-sœur, or sister-in-law, enough! This was really the only way to make sure I got to see as many people as possible when I was stateside from June – July. I saw friends I hadn’t seen since a little after high school and I saw family I hadn’t seen since my dad’s funeral a year ago. It was truly amazing. Though, fitting all of the gifts into mine and mon chéri‘s suitcases proved to be a bit of a challenge.
- Conversing with the world – Believe it or not, once people discover you’re pregnant, they open up to you. It’s like timid-ness is overcome by curiosity and a need to relate. I find it really cool. This started happening to me during the second trimester – when mon chéri and I decided to let people know we were expecting. Let’s be real here, I didn’t look pregnant at all during the first trimester and then during the second, I looked like I ate too many baguettes for lunch.
No one thought I was pregnant until the third trimester. In fact, it wasn’t until the third trimester when my belly bloomed, so-to-speak.
For example, at the airport in the U.S., I told the male flight attendant (about my age) that I was expecting. I wanted to know if he needed to see the letter from my OB-GYN that stated that I could fly until the 14th of July. This opened up the door to interrogation and his way of relating to mon chéri and I. He asked a hundred questions about our future daughter and then went on to discuss his own kids. It was a rather interesting and bonding conversation with a stranger who we’ll probably never see again. Another example: two weeks ago, I was at the marché buying meat from our butcher. There was an older woman in line ahead of me. She turned to look at me as if to say something about the weather or about the meat; however, once she saw the baby bump, she began to ask questions about the baby and about the pregnancy in general: “When are you due?” “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” “Have you picked out a name?” “Pregnancy and this 100F weather is terrible! How are you holding up?” She went on to describe how she had twins (TWINS!?! Thank you, but, no thank you) and that giving birth in the accroupie position, or by squatting, is the best way to do it. Last Wednesday, I ran into her again. She talked to me like we were old friends. It was a pleasant experience. I suppose being an expat kind of exposes my interest in culture, so, obviously, it’s easy to understand why I’d find this aspect of pregnancy a perk. I enjoy the fact that being pregnant has opened up so many cultural conversations.
So, when you’re in that “her due-date won’t come soon enough” slump, just create a list of all of the perks you’ve experienced during pregnancy. It really helps you see that in the end, being pregnant isn’t so bad. And, really, when she’s born, I expect that I’ll be thinking, “it was all worth it” (the positives and the negatives). Until then…I’m left craving an ice-cold Monaco to cool me off during these hot summer months. ♦
This is part of a series on my pregnancy in France. You can follow my pregnancy and gain helpful insight on what pregnancy is like in France by reading these blogs:
- Bienvenue…it’s a girl!
- The First Trimester: Où sont les toilettes ?
- The Second Trimester: Attaque de Sinusite !
- The Third Trimester: Pas assez d’énergie !
- Pointing out the Perks of Pregnancy
- Traveling While Pregnant: Une Bonne Idée
- Declaring La Grossesse (pregnancy) en France
For more insight on what raising a bilingual baby is like in France, check out these posts: