I want to put a couple of disclaimers here. First, this post may contain material that is offensive to some. Second, I am not a medical professional, so nothing I say should be construed as medical advice or information, even on the wildest of your poor life decision-making days.
I have had a strange pregnancy in that none of the symptoms I have had thus far hail from the standard schedule of vomiting and pickle-craving. Had I read more of the books in the maternity section, I might have been able to anticipate certain symptoms. But I didn't, so I couldn't. I was a little taken aback by some, and downright worried about others, so I thought I would document them here for any other insane hypochondriacs.
1. So Very Thirsty
Before I found out I was pregnant, I inexplicably developed a voracious appetite for water. This is particularly unusual for me, as I have never been a great water drinker. When thirsty, I usually opted for sodas, juice or coffee.* But all of a sudden, I wanted water and I wanted it by the gallon. It even got to the point that I was getting out of bed at 3 or 4 am to get a large glass of water. Being the ill-informed hypochondriac that I am, I decided this meant I had developed diabetes. We were trying to get pregnant at this point, so before condemning my pancreas, I googled the term "pregnancy thirst" and found that quite a number of people had reported this symptom. The general consensus is that your body increases its blood volume during maternity and needs the extra liquid to do so. The upshot of this new found water consumption is that my skin has never behaved better.
In a related note to #1, I had a spate of head rushes in early pregnancy. These tended to happen when I suddenly stood up. They were mild and never made me lose consciousness or fall over. I now reason this to my having diluted my blood volume with the entire municipal water supply. This really isn't a symptom I had never heard of before; I vaguely remember Gwyneth Paltrow's character in Sliding Doors getting dizzy when she was pregnant (sorry if you haven't seen that film).
3. Noses in Need
I have never had hay-fever or allergies in my life, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I started waking up with a runny nose and then sneezing my way through the day. My nose has since been in a constant state of runniness, despite the fact that summer and autumn have now both passed, leading me to believe this is not an allergic reaction to anything like pollen. The skin around my nose is dry from all the tissue abrasion and I worry that I will dehydrate from the amount of liquid I am losing in snot. I looked it up, and while rare, it seems to be a bona fide symptom of pregnancy. It is basically an allergic reaction without the allergic. I was a little upset to read that it may not clear up until a few weeks after the baby comes.
4. Tag, You're It!
I noticed a handful of times that I had a couple of skin tags. These were tiny, skin-coloured pieces of raised skin that I wouldn't normally notice were it not for my neurotic hypochondria. I won't even say what ridiculous life-threatening conditions I attributed them to, but a brief internet search later, I discovered that this is an innocuous and normal symptom of pregnancy. Speaking of changes to one's skin, the "discoloration of the nipples" that I have read about didn't turn out to be the even change in skin tone I had expected! Let's just say you'd be forgiven for thinking my nipples have freckles or have had an unfortunately asymmetric run-in with a curling iron!
5. Reverse Sympathy Pains
My husband hasn't had much by way of Couvade syndrome, but I have begun to sympathize with a uniquely male affiliation. Basically, I think I know what it feels like to be kicked in the family jewels. I talked to my midwife, and she assures me that because of the normal increase in blood-flow to "that area", swelling and discomfort often ensue. As a result, I don't like sitting for long periods and I have also started to waddle a bit.
6. A One-Sided View
Much to my delight, my bump has come in over the last month or so. I was really excited to start showing and now that it is even visible through my winter coat, I am thrilled. I have received a number of complements on how cute it looks right now and I enjoy catching glimpses of it throughout the day. The only thing that disturbed me was the fact that my bump sometimes would shift almost entirely to one side. Basically, the baby takes little day trips over to the left side of my uterus every now and then. I've been told that once she gets bigger this won't happen. Knowing that it is a normal occurrence, I now think it just looks a little funny. More importantly, I'm happy that she's not right-leaning!
7. I Am So Smart... S.M.R.T!
Pregnancy brain is a symptom that I had heard of before I experienced it. However, I had no idea how zany some of the things I would do would be. I found the nutmeg in the freezer; I made a second dinner for myself one evening, having forgotten about the first one; and I have become a complete slave to my iCal (think "guy from Memento"). This is basically and apology to anyone who I promised to do something for, or to whom calls are yet to be returned! There were other funny things that I did, and I remember thinking "That's funny, I should blog about it." But now, thanks to pregnancy brain, I can't remember what it was that I found so amusing.
All oddities aside, I enjoy being pregnant a lot. It's fun to know that a little person is growing inside you, and even more fun when they let you know they are there. I have also been blessed in that none of the symptoms I have had have caused me any real suffering like the nightmare that must be morning sickness. I just like to gripe about things for entertainment's sake and I hope maybe to allay the fears of anyone else going through a less than typical pregnancy!
* Prior to being pregnant, of course. These days, juice is all that remains on the menu.