What to expect when you tempt fate

Last night Chris and I returned home from a 19-day road trip to California. I left Canada as an energetic, fairly comfortable second-trimester preggie. I came back a whiny, aching, miserable, third-trimester beluga.

Before the trip, I made sure it was OK to travel this far. All the literature I read said that it was fine as long as I made sure to get out and stretch frequently so as to avoid blood clots in my legs.

The first night, we traveled for five hours. I was a little road weary afterward, but none the worse for wear. The second day, during which we drove A LOT more than five hours, my back started aching. Then it started screaming in protest. After a nice lukewarm Jacuzzi bath and a back rub that evening, I felt fine.

The third day of our trip, which was a mere five hours or so, the back pain came back. Maybe it was because I tried to shift the pressure off my back, or maybe it’s because I weigh five pounds more than I did during the infamous semester in which the only place I had time to eat was McDonald’s, but my butt started aching too.

The day after that, we drove from San Jose to L.A., and it was all I could do to keep from flinging myself out of the car in an attempt to end it all. In L.A., I cracked open one of my pregnancy books, whose title shall remain anonymous. If you’ve read this book, you may recall that the index is practically worthless and that the book is split up into nine months, with certain topics placed seemingly at random in various months.

Having a bit of spare time, I read not only the chapter for month seven, but also the ones for months eight and nine. In one of these chapters, I happened upon the author’s take on travel during pregnancy. Like other literature, this book said travel is OK in the third trimester if approved by your doctor and if you make frequent stops. However, it might have been nice of the author to warn readers before month eight that longer car trips (lasting “more than one hour”) may be “uncomfortable” in later pregnancy. This might have been helpful in oh, say, month six, when people are making their late-pregnancy travel plans!

I blame most of my newfound third-trimester agony, however, on the fact that I’ve been tempting fate.

I would never have gone on a long car trip if I hadn’t been so healthy and comfortable. Other than requiring the help a winch to get myself out of bed, I was feeling great — and what better idea when you’re feeling great than to subject your body to torture?

The car wasn’t the only punishment my back has experienced. Thanks to a series of hotel beds, the pain didn’t get better when I wasn’t on the road. And pressure points caused my arms to go numb up to 10 times a night while I was sleeping. Oh, how silly I was to leave my comfy foam mattress, which only causes numbness once or twice in a given night!

You may remember reading last week of my new back-support belt. This, too, is the result of my spitting in the eye of the pregnancy gods. There is possibly nothing worse for a pregnant woman’s back than the resolution that, because you are a stylish and attractive pregnant woman, nobody is going to see you in full-panel pants or maternity underwear no matter HOW big you get. Hence the lovely elastic-and-velcro contraption I now wear when I’m going to be on my feet. Now that’s what I call stylish and attractive!

Thanks to a bit of nutritional hubris on the road, when I asked myself how just a little fast food ever hurt anyone, I now have yet another wonderful hallmark of pregnancy to enjoy. As the elderly heroine in “The Ladykillers” said, “World’s got two kinds of folks — them that’s got piles and them that’s gonna get ’em.” That, on top of the Gaviscon I have to pop after (and often in between) meals. Thank you, Taco Bell.

And then there is the issue of the shoes. I’m not really sure what I did wrong, other than owning lots of gorgeous shoes and proclaiming once, early on, that the shoe store was the one place in the mall where I could still shop. Now, that statement only holds true if the shoe store we’re talking about sells orthopedic footwear.

Between gaining a half-size and turning into plump, juicy sausages, my feet are now only happy when they’re in a pair of rather unattractive Aerosoles with a square toe and one-inch heels. No flats. No two-inch heels. No toes that are rounded or angled or in any way divergent from the widest part of the shoe. This means not only that I am no longer the footwear fashion plate I once fancied myself. It also means I cannot make fun of my chiropractor, Germans, or stringy-haired, tie-dye-wearing vegan activists. (Now that I think of it, perhaps it was mocking chiropractors that did me in. These people are very helpful when you have five pounds of boobs and 10 pounds of belly pulling on your lower back and have spent seven of the last 19 days in an SUV.)

The only thing I have not YET experienced is the thing I’ve been expecting — a belly covered in stretch marks. I’ve been so certain this would happen that I’ve been hosing myself down, post-shower, in Vitamin E oil. Of course, if I cease this daily ritual, I will wake up looking like the star of “Racing Stripes II,” in which a hideously stretch-marked pregnant woman proves to the world that while she is the slowest thing on feet, she can certainly eat as much as a racehorse. I am fully convinced that the only reason I don’t have stretch marks yet is because I was so sure that I would. I am sure that, even yet, my skin is plotting to strike the moment I let my guard down.

So here I sit, awaiting tomorrow’s chiropractic appointment, ruing the day I planned a three-week car trip and wondering what act of overconfidence I will be punished for next.

Coming soon: Week 28 belly shots.

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