I clearly remember leaning over the grocery cart when I was about three months pregnant with my first child. A wave of hunger hit me fast and hard. It quickly turned into the shakes and I grabbed the closest thing (a bag of corn chips), stood right in the middle of aisle six and ate half of them in under three minutes. I was weak in the knees and barely made it to the checkout. My cramps, sore breasts and feeling queasy all the time had literally stopped that morning.
This raging hunger was a new feeling and I had no idea what was happening. I didn't know that morning that the tiny human cooking inside of me was a boy, I just knew it felt like an alien had taken over my body. From that moment on, I was starving all the time. I had a thirst that couldn't be quenched, not even with a gallon of chocolate milk or orange juice. Believe me, I tried.
And don't even get me started on the exhaustion. My body didn't belong to me, the hunger spells that turned into dizziness lasted until I gave birth. I figured every pregnancy would feel just like that one, but I was wrong.
When we were trying for our second, I took the pregnancy test while thinking, Don't be disappointed, you definitely aren't pregnant, you have no symptoms at all. You can try next month.
To my surprise, it was positive. I waited and waited and waited but the sore breasts, the hunger and the dizziness never came. I didn't even feel pregnant for the first few months, and it made me worry. I mean, I got huge and moody and had to pee all the time, but where was the appetite of two teenage boys? Why was I able to stay up late and get shit done? Why didn't I long to stand with the refrigerator door open and gulp down a gallon of chocolate milk?
I told my doctor my concerns and she assured me I was very pregnant with a healthy baby. It was just a different pregnancy and I shouldn't worry but, instead, enjoy the feeling that my body belonged to me.
I bought boy clothing, bedding and didn't even have a name picked out, just in case it was actually a girl. I just knew it was a boy—and I was right.
So, when the sonographer announced I was having a girl, I started to wonder if maybe that was why it felt different. Perhaps having a female in my uterus was easier on my body and I didn't need as much food, liquids or sleep? Who knew each pregnancy could feel novel? It was another thing no one told me. All I know is the symptoms were mild with my daughter and were nothing like they the experience I had with my son.
When I discovered I was pregnant for the third time, I knew with all my being there was a boy in my belly within the first week. The shakes and insatiable hunger returned. The cramping was back, the tenderness in my breasts hung around until my second trimester and falling asleep on the floor while my other two children used me as a jungle gym was a daily ritual. It mimicked my first pregnancy with my oldest son, but it was even more intense.
I bought boy clothing, bedding and didn't even have a name picked out, just in case it was actually a girl. I just knew it was a boy—and I was right. After I birthed him, all of the symptoms disappeared and I was left with an extra 50 pounds. I knew better this time around not to ignore the hunger, lest I pass out in front of my two toddlers.
It seems after talking to some friends who have birthed both boys and girls, their experiences were similar. Of course, their symptoms were different than mine, but there were distinct differences when there was a male in their belly versus a female. The biggest difference was that they all said they ate way more with a boy, and felt more queasy and gained less weight with a girl.
Each pregnancy is definitely different, but it makes me wonder how much the sex of your baby affects your symptoms. There's proof our hormones are different when we're carrying a female versus a male. Maybe some of us are just more sensitive to the levels of hormones that are playing ping-pong in our bodies. Who knows? Either way, I'm just glad I'm not still swigging endless rivers of chocolate milk.