A friend of mine mentioned that we have the same gestational period as cows. Weird.
Don’t misunderstand me, pregnancy is a beautiful thing, it really is. But it’s also really strange. You gain 30 pounds (at least in my case) and you eventually produce milk. If you don’t think that’s odd, you’re lying. So, I suppose this is a post for surviving that strange transformation, and even enjoying it. Every pregnancy is different, so some of this may not help you (or maybe you’re a man, in which case this really won’t help you), but maybe it will at least be interesting.
1. Marry a good man. If Burk hadn’t been so understanding, pregnancy (and labor) would have been a lot worse. His support and good humor made it easy. He was a good sport when I banished all strong smelling foods from our house because of morning sickness, accepting bland foods for two months with a smile; he reminded me to laugh, and he was the reason (along with my mom and midwife) that I made it through labor drug-free.
2. Appreciate your wonderful husband. Like it or not, your relationship is about to change, forever. It is a great change; you will get to see your husband as a father, that’s incredibly beautiful, but it is different, so enjoy what your relationship is now. Go to movies, stay up late together, go to dinner, and have lots of sex (yes, I wrote that. It’s important, if you don’t understand why then you’re not doing marriage right).
3. Do nice things for your husband. Your raging hormones will try to tell you that he doesn’t understand, and he’s not doing enough. This just isn’t true (unless you didn’t take the advice of my first step). Appreciate the little things he’s doing for you, it’s hard work taking care of a pregnant woman, one minute we love animal crackers, the next they make us gag. We’re hot, we’re cold, we’re tired, we’re self-conscious, moody, and forgetful; it takes a lot of grace to put up with that much uncertainty.
4. Have a sense of humor. Pregnancy is funny. You give someone a sample of your pee every four weeks. Your belly becomes a basketball. You waddle. You cry unexpectedly. You have a tiny person hiccuping inside you. You get winded walking up stairs. Strangers try to touch your stomach. Enjoy the weirdness and it will be a lot more fun.
5.Exercise. You will feel better, especially during those exhausting, sickly first-term days. You will feel more yourself. Obviously, check with your doctor for what is safe, but when they give you the go-ahead, do whatever exercise you enjoy. Continuing Martial Arts all through my pregnancy was the best decision I made, it helped with the morning sickness, it made my back feel better, and I just enjoyed it. So, find activity you like and do it, you will feel good and it benefits your baby. If yoga isn’t among your favorite exercises, it should be, because pre-natal yoga is a must in that last term.
6. Take it easy. You’re growing a person, that’s a big deal. If you need a nap, take one.
7. Eat well. What you put in your body goes straight to your baby. Eat well and your post-pregnancy weight will be lost faster, you will feel better, and you will nourish your baby. How well you eat will determine your baby’s health not only during their life in utero and as an infant, but it will determine much of their health for their ENTIRE life. A person is literally being made inside you, don’t take that responsibility lightly. Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever you want and however much you want, you should eat better then you ever have while pregnant, your baby’s development depends on what you eat. So take those pre-natal vitamins religiously, eat nutritious food, and don’t mess around with alcohol, excessive caffeine, or sushi; the risks aren’t worth it. That said, you’re baby won’t be hurt if you eat dessert; in fact, they will probably reward you with happy kicking and wiggling.
8. Make freezer meals. Pack your freezer full. You will love all those meals when baby comes and it will help you refrain from turning to unhealthy take-out as you try and lose that postpartum weight.
9. Take pictures. You may feel like you’re getting fat. You’re not. You will enjoy looking back on those pictures of your body transforming into a perfect baby-home. Stop worrying about the weight gain and body change. You are growing a person, that’s incredible. The stretch marks and swollen ankles are part of that, embrace them. You’re body will never be the same, that’s good, you’re a Mom now, you are not the same person you were before you were pregnant. So, stop expecting your body to hide the proof.
10. That said, take care of yourself. Buy some good maternity clothes, use lots of lotion to help lessen those stretch marks, get your hair done, and paint your toenails (do Yoga and you will be able to reach them all the way to that 10th month). You will feel much better about yourself if you take the time.
11. Read books on parenting. You won’t have time to read them when your little one comes, and you should put your feet up at least once a day anyway. Prepare yourself for motherhood, set goals and write them down, because it’s really easy to just live each day just barely surviving if you don’t have a plan thought out beforehand. No, things won’t go completely how you plan them, but they definitely won’t go how you want them if you don’t take the time to decide how you want to raise your child and what you want your family to look like.
12. Resist the urge to always talk about pregnancy and babies. You will lose friends. Well, probably not, but you will be really annoying.
13. Sleep in. Because when baby comes you never will again.
14. Research things. Doctors are smart, listen to them, but they don’t know everything, and they certainly don’t know the answers to questions you don’t ask. Information is at your fingertips, so instead of spending an hour on Pinterest looking at cute baby pictures, take some time to decide if you want to circumcise your son (you should, I’ll be writing a post on that in the future), or what you think of the more debated vaccines (Hep B, chicken pox, or the flu shot). Obviously pay attention to your sources, if someone’s blog is telling you to avoid all vaccines because they brainwash people, maybe (just maybe) you should look at other more valid sources before swearing off vaccines and endangering your child and children around you. Then go back to Pinterest and look at more babies.
15. Be gracious with excited people. I’m actually pretty annoyed with the number of articles, Facebook posts, and blogs ranting about people asking them their due date, or if it’s a boy or girl…etc; don’t do it. People, strangers even, want to share in your joy. Let them. Just because 20 people have asked you the same question doesn’t mean the 21st person deserves an eye-roll for being genuinely interested in your baby. But if strangers try and touch your belly, it’s okay to deflect like a ninja, because that’s just weird.
16. Take compliments. People will tell you you’re beautiful and glowing, and even though you may feel like that glow is simply the layer of sweat from the treacherous climb of a flight of stairs and your puffy face and growing body can’t be any prettier than a hippo (which indecently is a bad example, because hippos are actually dangerously cute), say “thank you”. If you spend more time accepting compliments rather than trying to convince people they’re wrong about your pregnant beauty, you’ll start seeing yourself how they see you: A woman maturing into a mother. And that really is beautiful.
17. Write things down. “Mommy-brain” is a very real phenomenon. I could remember Burk’s school schedule (including tests), my schedule, phone numbers and addresses and recall them at a moment’s notice. Once that sperm hit that egg my memory evaporated. I forgot appointments, where I put the keys, and when the rent was due (the 1st of the month…how hard is that to remember?). Get a notepad, write important things down, and try not to lose it.
18. Drink water, lots of it. You’ll feel better, you won’t be as bloated, and you’ll avoid things like UTIs and hemorrhoids. You will have to pee, a lot. Just accept it and fill your water bottle again.
19. Don’t complain. Especially all over Facebook. You are privileged to carry your baby, and the end result of your nine-months of relative discomfort will, Lord-willing, result in you meeting that beautiful baby face-to-face. That’s an honor many women never get to experience. Don’t take it for granted because you’re too busy pitying yourself because your feet hurt. (one caveat here: sharing real pregnancy complications does not fall into the category of complaint, but I hope that’s obvious).
20. Read Psalm 139. Listen to J.J. Heller’s song “I Get to be the One”. Have tissues handy.
21. Take time to be in awe. Pregnancy is really miraculous.
You may be entering cow-hood, but it really is a wonderful transformation. Life is suddenly not about you at all anymore; it never really was in the first place, but sometimes it takes adorable, dependent people to teach us that. Pregnancy is humbling, if you pay attention, and that is a beautiful thing.