I didn’t love being pregnant.
The only time I experienced a pregnancy glow was the time I peed on myself. I didn’t love that my normal size 8 feet had swollen to Hobbit size 11 feet, or that acid reflux was my constant companion from the pee stick until the delivery.
I did, however, love growing tiny fingers and toes inside my belly. I did love watching my belly jump because my tiny baby had the hiccups. Most of all, I loved the fact that my pregnancy cured my migraines.
I had no idea what to expect migraine-wise when I found out I was expecting. I did know that once I was knocked-up all migraine meds were out of the question, along with unpasteurized cheese and sushi. When a doctor told me I could take a Tylenol to help me through a migraine attack, I laughed in her face. Tylenol may bring my fever down, but it wasn’t going to do a thing for my pain. Migraines are not normal headaches. It's neurological disorder that makes me feel like I’m hot-ironing my brain.
Since my migraines are primarily triggered by hormonal changes, I was told that one of two things would happen: 1. They might get worse. B. They might get better. I’d found nothing so far to help lessen the frequency of my migraines – yoga, acupuncture, massage, diet changes, hormonal therapy, and supplements – nothing worked. I was preparing myself for the more likely possibility of choice number one – and for the first three months that’s what I got.
The first trimester of my pregnancy left me feeling like I had a flu I just couldn’t shake. I was exhausted. I was achey. I was nauseated. I decided to buy stock in Saltine crackers. Worst of all, I was suffering from migraines weekly, and I couldn’t take anything to alleviate the pain. It was my nightmare. Through migraine after migraine, I cried quietly in my bed because I was terrified I'd have to spend the rest of my pregnancy all alone in a dark room ironing my brain.
There was no part of me that truly believed my migraines would go away. But it happened. Several weeks into my second trimester, I was feeling better. They came less and less often until one day I realized it had been a month since my last migraine. Sure, I still had Hobbit feet, but due to my skyrocketing levels of estrogen and progesterone, my migraines were gone. I was free to sell my stock in Saltines. It was glorious.
I started to remember what life was like pre-migraine headaches. I remembered what it was like to make plans and actually keep them. I remembered what it was like not to live in fear of the searing pain in my head. I might still have been living in fear of not finding the closest bathroom, but I peeing my pants felt like a worthy trade off.
My pregnancy body was definitely different — and not just because of the obvious baby bump on my front. Most days it felt completely foreign to me. It was constantly changing, but my pregnancy gave me a freedom I hadn’t felt for a very long time.
Sadly, six months after birthing our wonderful son, my migraines came back. They're happening full-throttle at present, but I’m still trying new things to find a cure. When I look back on my pregnancy and down at my normal size 8 feet, I can’t help but smile. My son gave me a wonderful, unexpected gift – his body joined with mine and reminded me what it was like to feel healthy again.
I think of that on the days I’m stuck in bed hot-ironing my brain wondering if the pain will ever end. It gives me hope. Maybe someday again I'll be filled with same freedom I felt when I was pregnant, but without the Hobbit-sized feet.