Friday, January 29, 2010

More Aptly Named Pregnancy Symptoms

I've taken umbrage at the lousy job linguists have done in naming a few pregnancy symptoms. I feel I'm being charitable in charging these unknown individuals only with incompetence and not with malicious intent to deceive. Morning sickness tops my list as the worst of their offenses. Nesting may just be open to interpretation, but I think we deserved better. One could argue that nest-building birds may not be inherently peaceful, maybe they are all like those poor humming birds: "Must go a thousand miles per hour. Can't stop or I'll die."

Last night while copying out my recipe collection onto matching cards, because God knows you can't have a baby if your recipes don't coordinate, I felt something strange. It took a while before I really paid the feeling any attention because, frankly, I am feeling strange all the time. Then I felt it more acutely. What was that tightening, contracting feeling that was squeezing my whole belly into a giant knot?

A Contraction? Why yes, I was contracting. Don't you go and panic - they weren't the real ones. I, of course, experienced a strong shot of panic, because not panicking really never occurs to a person who consists entirely of nerve endings fed by hormones. They weren't painful; they were just noticeable. They are called Braxton-Hicks Contractions - the contracting of the uterus as your muscles prepare for the marathon of "real" contractions that push out babies. They can begin quite early in pregnancy (you just don't feel them usually).

Kudos to the naming people on this one. Contracting is exactly what it feels like. That giant movable mass out front that is threatening the existence of your bellybutton starts squeezing itself into a smaller tighter ball. And Braxton-Hicks, while obviously the man who put his name on the medical paper to verify that such things exist, isn't bad either. Is it my imagination or does it resemble a curse of some kind? At the very least, it goes well when accentuated by a stream of curses. As when, upon gaining hold of your panic at the contracting feeling in your uterus and your due date is still 6 weeks away, you say: "It's only Braxton-blankety-blank-Hicks contractions."

I'm just a walking saleswoman for pregnancy aren't I?

Another example of an aptly named symptom: Heartburn. "My God." you say, "What is this horrible burning sensation above my heart?" Ahhh. While you may not achieve actual relief from the burning you at least feel the satisfaction of understanding what the deuce is happening in your body. And by this point, having something you can understand is great comfort.


  1. Thanks for writing "Don't you go and panic," but I'm sorry, that warning came too late. I don't think I've ever speed-scanned any text so frantically in my life. "She's CONTRACTING?? What happened NEXT?"

    Obviously, I've never heard of Braxton-Hicks. As for the apt naming, they should call them "This will even make people 1,700 miles away start panicking" contractions.

  2. Thanks for panicking with me! I hereby promise you that if I have this baby soon or even later I will lead with something like "I HAD A BABY!" It would only be good journalism to put the most important part of the story up front.

  3. Was a beautiful page. Thanks to the designers and managers.