Oh my gosh, you’re pregnant! Wow! Congratulations! There are so many of you. Even though a small part of me is salty none of you bothered to be pregnant at the same time as me, I’m sooo happy for you. You will all make great moms because you aren’t narcissists. There is a special journey ahead of you and I have so much to say…
The first trimester is such a weird time, isn’t it? On TV they don’t show you the part where the woman takes six pregnancy tests over the course of a few weeks and still isn’t convinced there is real life in there. The unspoken rule is to wait until 12 weeks to tell people, but letting people know makes it feel real. You didn’t ask for my advice but tell people when you want to tell them. Waiting twelve weeks is reasonable because the risk of miscarriage drops sharply at that point, but it’s also morbid if you think about it. Some people won’t be excited for you, even your friends. Some people will make you feel badly for telling before twelve weeks, and some people will suck in other ways. I think it’s wise to tell who you want but if they aren’t 100% predictable, make sure it’s past the point where you need other people to be happy for you.
What might sell you out, however, is the disproportionate fatigue. Your blastocyst is the size of a spore of pollen yet you’re taking naps after work! While you look normal and unfettered, go ahead and take it easy at the gym so you won’t be as wiped out over the following days. You just can’t recover like you use to. This fatigue is what gives you away if not the morning sickness. Since I’m amazing, I didn’t have morning sickness, but I did feel sick when I didn’t eat and also didn’t feel like eating anything besides cereal and popsicles.
You are going to worry about looking fat until you really start showing. But honestly, once you start showing, everyone whose opinions should matter to you will forget they thought you looked fat if they even cared in the first place. I started showing around 14 weeks, which was also the time when I stopped being exhausted, but it was really obvious at about 18.
When your boobs get to the point you keep having to unhook your bra at work, buy new ones and make sure they are for nursing. By the way, my bra size went from a 36A to a 38C, but four months later they have settled at a B.
If you have severe pelvic pain, your pelvis is not going to give out! Get a belly band. If your back or hips hurt, go to the chiropractor. If your feet swell, drink plenty of water and have a seat. If you crave ice, have your iron checked.
The best way to prepare to have a child besides getting everything you need and watching countless YouTube videos, is to drive around town for an entire day popping in and out of your vehicle with abandon. Run into the gas station and get an Icee because the days of being able to walk from A to B with a drink in your hand are limited. Also prepare yourself by waking up two to four times in the night to do something that requires you to be present but not exactly use your brain for about 15 minutes and then practice taking naps. Practice being on time for church because if you were late before, you may not ever make it before the sermon starts again. Oh, and go to the gym before work because that will be a luxury.
In that last month it’s fun to look at the signs of labor and talk to people about it but DO NOT try to predict when you will have this baby! The only true sign of labor is active labor or your water breaking, not the bloody show, not diarrhea, not those painless or uncomfortable consistent contractions that don’t progress, and definitely not how dilated you are. There is no set pace for labor and to be honest, your due date is just a guess. Keep your mind open but your bags packed and enjoy the last few days before you find out exactly how many stretch marks you actually have.
Speaking of your bag, be practical, unless you’re planning to hang out at the hospital with no baby for a long time, you probably won’t need entertainment. You’ll be sleeping and texting and being checked on every five seconds. Bring snacks though because if you have your baby at midnight and all they have is a boxed lunch with no chips and no vending machine that works, what are you going to do? I spent so much time trying to find the perfect birthing gown when I should have been driving around to all the gas stations and enjoying being pregnant and special.
If you are group B strep positive, don’t worry, but go to the hospital early enough to receive the antibiotics.
When you do go into labor take some pictures. That sounds stupid but it’s such a monumental event! I wish I had pictures and video of me moaning through my contractions to remind myself of how much of a warrior I am.
Delivery sucks. I didn’t have an epidural, but I would assume being bed stricken from one also sucks. Instead of looking up signs of labor, I should have been praying and reading scripture, because God and an anesthesiologist are the only ones that could have helped me! You can’t prepare for that kind of pain except by learning techniques to cope. And don’t be surprised if your baby being delivered isn’t as glamorous as you expected. It was amazing to meet him, but the whole moment was dampened by my uncontrollable shaking and the endless stitching. People don’t tell you how much it sucks because in retrospect all you will think about is the fact you got through it and what it was like to meet your child.
In regard to breastfeeding my son was a strong feeder as soon as he emerged. The first tests were done with him on my chest, but it was nearly an hour before he was taken from me to be weighed and measured because he nursed for 45 minutes!
When someone else finally takes the baby from you, you’ll have to go to the bathroom. You’ll have to squirt yourself each time you pee which makes bathroom trips a hassle. It’s going to feel like a crime scene for a long time, especially if you have stitches. Use your foams, sprays, ice packs, and sitz baths as much as you can. And another precious detail is that you will be directed to massage your fundus/uterus each time you go to the bathroom to help it stop bleeding, and the nurses will do it for you too. It does not feel good.
Once I got home my milk came in at full stop. I had to pump to relieve the pressure, but not to make my milk come in which some of you will have to do. Some of you will have babies that won’t latch because they have lip or tongue ties, or because they are brand new human beings. It takes time for you and baby to learn. As far as pumps go, I have the Spectra S2. Having to set it up in awkward places near an outlet is SO ANNOYING. I should have gone with the Spectra S1, which is battery-powered, even if I had to pay a little extra. Or I could have gone with Medela because those are the bottles I am sent every month along with lansinoa bags. At first try to keep a bottle in the fridge and put as much as you can in the freezer because you will need it if you go back to work. And be aware your baby may like one bottle better than the others.
Besides crying babies and wet bras, add ibuprofen and diapers to the list of hassles once you get home. Do yourself a favor and just get the Depends rather than trying to use pads, and you might even go ahead and use the pads too.
Now, your nipples are going to hurt. I can send you pictures of the shredded skin sticking off my nipple but you can use your imagination. I had prepared for the soreness from the suck by tugging on my nipple before giving birth. I don’t know if that helped and I don’t know if anything would have helped. But don’t be discouraged! That only lasted a few days. If you feel pain (other than nipple skin soreness) after your baby latches, he’s probably doing it wrong (newbie), and you will need to break his seal and get him to relatch. Your husband can help by forcing your child’s face onto your nipple while you make sure it’s pointed toward the roof of her mouth. Beautiful. When you get the hang of it, be prepared for the other boob not in use to leak. Grab something like these “boob cups” or a hakka to save your bra and that precious, precious milk. The hakka is a staple no one seems to mention before you need it. Suctions helps draw the milk out as opposed to just catching the leak. I used it before my baby was big enough to kick it off and I used it on my 13-hour drive home to Missouri.
Incidentally, if you don’t want to nurse, don’t let people make you do it. Your life will be a little simpler, a little more expensive, and your child will be fine. There will be several beneficial things you all will do for your child that I won’t bother myself with and my son will still turn out to be a left-handed pitcher for the Cardinals.
By the way, we had intended to wait several weeks to use bottles and pacifiers to avoid messing up the kid’s latch, but as I mentioned before he was an actual professional at latching. He held clinics for other babies, he was so good at it. My mom gave him a bottle day four and we gave him a pacifier on the second week in an attempt to get him sleeping on his own. And by the way you need those bougie, all-silicone binkies if you are breastfeeding.
Speaking of sleeping, I slept pretty well, but my husband did not. Please remember you have a brand-new person in your home, she might not get the whole night time thing but she will! You may have to try several things to encourage sleeping on her own. The bassinet never worked because my son didn’t want to sleep on his back or be flat. We eventually had success with a swaddle suit and a Rock n’ Play, but some people don’t think the Rock N’ Play is safe for sleeping. Obviously, we did. But one day it just didn’t work anymore! In desperation we ended up co-sleeping like a couple of savages and still did until we could put him in his crib. That co-sleeping contraption is not for people with queen-sized beds. We finally transitioned our son to the crib…on his stomach. I know, I know, it’s a no-no, but Sis, the kid’s gotta sleep! And he has had good head and neck control since a few weeks old.
Back to the bed thing: having a baby in your bed is a problem in regard to intimacy. Not just sex but snuggling et cetera. That is what my husband misses most. What is most detrimental to your intimacy is the fact you will be wearing an actual diaper after you give birth– for at least two weeks if you aren’t trying to be cute, and don’t try to be. Just kind of forget your vagina ever had any sexual function. It’s going to smell weird, hurt, drain, but that’s all part of it! With a three-almost-four-degree tear from a ten-pound baby and his head, I thought the game was totally over, but I’m here to tell you it really does go back! I had to see an OB several times in addition to my postpartum appointment and now everything is as cute as ever. Well, I haven’t looked that much, but I can tell! Sex still hurts at the beginning because of scar tissue but with physical therapy and time I know it will be all better. Other than that, it’s better than before! I’m not sure if it’s as amazing to my husband as it was before, but that’s not my problem; I gave him a child. You’re welcome.
That brings me to my last point, your husband– or whomever you have ended up procreating with– that relationship will change, but in the sense that we change throughout our lives. It isn’t mainly fun and games anymore because you are trying to keep a child alive. Before your baby comes, enjoy laying up against your husband on the couch and sharing memes and talking shit. Enjoy the lightness and anticipation. Baby lessens that because you both have a job to do at all times, and at first it feels like shift work- “Is he fed? Has he pooped?”. You’re like business partners. You went into a deal together because you liked each other and that’s always there, but now you are trying to get this thing off the ground. It won’t always be equal but try to make it fair. Reward each other. Relieve each other.
Three days after giving birth I could finally see myself going through it all again. Three weeks after, I stopped feeling sad and started exercising A LITTLE. Five weeks after I stopped bleeding and draining. Six weeks after I could put on my wedding ring. After eight weeks I had sex! After ten weeks I went back to work. After 16 weeks I realized I don’t have it together. After 20 weeks, my son weighs over 20 pounds, I don’t notice my stretchmarks, my belly is almost back to my normal color, and my ab muscles are coming back together, but I’m still kind of fat. Pregnancy wasn’t magical as it appeared on TV, and no aspect of delivery was fun or exciting, but today I can look back at all of it fondly and marvel at the experience. I believe I could adopt and be just as happy. Pregnancy is an experience of a lifetime, but having a child is really the gem. Despite the angry cries and diaper blowouts, this is a true happy and a true love.
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