My husband and I always knew we wanted kids. I’m not sure if it’s something we ever discussed, it’s always been a given. We could always be found helping out with friends’ babies or strolling down the baby aisle in Target.
I knew that having a baby would be the most important thing I would ever do. I had my doubts about whether I’d be a good mom and how I’d handle the sleepless nights.
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I wanted to feel prepared.
I read What to Expect Before You’re Expecting on our honeymoon. I bought onesies and burp cloths years before our daughter was a little lima bean. I felt ready.
In March I found out I was finally pregnant.
Let me tell you, I was woefully naive about pregnancy. Looking back I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe some nausea and tiredness.
I was only 4 week when I started to feel like I had been hit by a train on a daily basis. Then came the nausea, and then the vomiting. And the aching. Everything hurt. I had a few “good” weeks in the second trimester, but overall pregnancy was WAY harder than I had anticipated.
I would tell my husband over and over again that I am not cut out for this.
The last few weeks felt so long. I was so swollen and cranky and tired of peeing every ten minutes.
I was a whopping zero centimeters dilated at my 39 week exam. After a good cry and a nap, I walked, pumped, bounced, and cried some more until my water broke in the middle of the night.
I remember saying several times during labor that I was so excited to not be pregnant anymore.
And then I wasn’t. My baby was here.
On our first night home my husband took the baby so I could get some rest in our room after three nights in a hospital bed. I vividly remember pulling my knees up against my stomach and crying because I could. I was relieved to have my body back to myself but I was also incredibly sad that she was out.
For the first week I would cry when I thought about her being in my stomach. I would instinctively rest my hand above my belly button, waiting to feel her kicks and punches.
It’s like I know that pregnancy was physically miserable, but I can’t remember it.
I miss my big ol’ belly.
I miss being pregnant and I can’t wait to go through the miraculous process again.
Looking back, there are some things I would tell my past self to have a more enjoyable pregnancy.
- Buy the pillow before you think you need it.
I bought my pregnancy pillow at around 23 weeks, but looking back I would have gotten it as soon as I was in the second trimester. Not only did it help prevent aches and pains, it kept me sleeping on my side, which is essential later in pregnancy. I got mine off of Amazon and it has kept its shape so far.
I was told to get rid of it after the baby was born or else it would ruin my marriage. 6 weeks out I’m still using it. I love it. I might never stop sleeping with it.
- Get as much done as early as you can.
Get the shopping, organizing, nursery done as early as possible. Like I said, the end can be extremely trying, so having a full pantry and finished nursery before hitting 40 weeks
- Make your calories count.
When the nausea took over all I did was sit in bed watching The Great British Baking Show and eating saltines. If I have morning sickness (let’s be real – all day, all night sickness) with my next baby, I plan on eating more efficiently. I hope to have more nutrient dense snacks instead of relying on my prenatal to do all the work.
- Get maternity clothes that double as nursing tops.
I bought three of these. Target also has a great maternity line. Buying maternity tops that’ll last into the fourth trimester is a great bang for your buck. Remember to bring them to the hospital, you’ll look a few months pregnant for at least a week.
- Take lots of pictures.
This one is self explanatory – you can never have enough pictures, even when feeling like a whale.
- Enjoy the silence.
Just sit in it. Do nothing. Soak it up.
- Nod and say thank you – but don’t take all the advice.
The best advice I received was to say thank you, but to be wary of taking everyone’s advice. I now see that the least helpful advice came from those who didn’t have children. There are so many opinions on epidurals, cosleeping, exercise, etc. Most of the time our advice is formed from our own experiences. What worked for your great aunt’s sister’s baby might not work for yours. Also, a lot of things that were practiced thirty years ago are outdated, neglectful or dangerous.
- Accept that you can’t do everything before.
This may seem contradictory to #1, but it’s true. You can’t do everything before. Your baby might have an allergy to the laundry detergent you bought or breastfeeding might not work out. Prioritize what can be done now and what is going to be determined by your little stranger.
- Go out to eat.
I gave birth and was in the postpartum period during the pandemic and so the amount of help I had was limited. I ate all my meals and drank all my cups of coffee cold for the first few weeks. Let yourself go out to dinner and be served warm food on a plate that you don’t have clean.
10. It’s okay to say you need space.
The kindest text I received was “I’m sure you want to be left alone right now, but I’m here if you need me”. There was nothing more I wanted than to be left to my Netflix and nesting and groaning. So many people were asking how I was feeling or if the baby was here yet. There’s nothing wrong with just saying “I’ll let you know when they’re here”.
There is no end to alone time, quiet cups of coffee, or long drives without a crying baby. Although those nine months seem eternal when you’re in them, they really are just a blip before life changes in every single way.
If you could go back to your pregnancy, what would you do differently?