Pregnancy for new moms is a world of unknown. No amount of reading, blog searching and talking to friends will ever prepare you for what's in store - which is in part because every pregnancy is SO different. Even women who have more than 1 child will attest that no 2 pregnancies are the same. Some women are blessed to have easy, stretch mark-free pregnancies, while others are on the opposite end of the spectrum. As a first time mom, I thought I was prepared for pregnancy but looking back, there are definitely things I wish I would have known! Hopefully my list helps you future mommies!
1. You will experience raging emotions for no reason at all
I remember calling my very pregnant friend M. one day and her telling me she had just finished crying uncontrollably because she had ordered a hamburger and they forgot to put on mustard. At the time I thought she was a bit nuts and laughed to myself about how I would NEVER be that crazy. I don't even really PMS so I was sure that pregnancy hormones would be a breeze to control. Fast forward 3 years, and I found myself on my kitchen floor sobbing because my 4 year old scratched and old leather boots had rust on the buckle LOL. Totally irrational. I remember my husband walking in on me with a look of panic on his face until he understood why I was crying... he then started laughing at me which made me sob even more.
There is absolutely nothing you can do about the overwhelming surge of hormones and emotions that will hit you at one point during your pregnancy- and its ok! Just accept the ride and hope for the best. I think that acknowledging that you are a bit nuts will help save your marriage and sanity. I have a few pregnant friends who tried hiding their craziness and taking to them now, they confirm that it only made things worse for them. I woke up some mornings and told my husband: brace yourself - today will be an emotional day. He then knew to be EXTRA nice and to bring me home snacks and food in order to try to avoid a full blown meltdown :). I think that warning your significant other, work colleagues, and even friends that you aren't in the best mood certain days is a great way to guarantee some understanding if you snap or seem a bit emotional. You can't expect people to know how you're feeling, so don't be shy to speak up!
2. You won't be prepared for the ways in which your body will change
When I found out I was pregnant, I expected the big belly that would eventually come and I expected my boobs to grow a little bit.. I mean that's normal when they fill up with milk for breast feeding right? What I didn't expect was everything else. I found my body changing on a daily basis and Google was the only one who I felt I could turn to for my embarrassing (but totally normal) changes. Time and time again, Google (and later on my OBGYN) reassured me that these changes were all part of the wonderful journey of pregnancy. I'll go into further detail in a different blog post, but a quick summary of the main changes that I experienced were: pigmentation changes under my arms, groin, and belly, larger feet (PERMANENTLY), super painful and sensitive breasts, painful joints, sciatica nerve pain, excruciating heart burn and hang over-like nausea.
3. Don't plan your pregnancy journey ahead of time - it might disappoint you.
I started off my pregnancy by exercising 4 times a week, drinking healthy smoothies, I stocked up my fridge with fruits and veggies... I was doing everything right. 8 weeks in, the nausea hit. The only thing that stopped my throwing up was greasy food, and since the nausea was 24/7... so was my intake of cheeseburgers. Along with my nausea, also came swelling. Not the typical type of swelling that often accompanies the end of pregnancy, but the type of swelling that made it impossible to wear shoes, rings, watches and even necklaces! Can you imagine how swollen you have to be to not be able to wear a pendant necklace!? Because of the swelling and apparently the position of my baby, I had horrible sciatica pain and couldn't walk, sit or sleep. I started seeing a massage therapist to help with the pain, but it forced me to stop going to the gym. Because of all the swelling, the greasy food and my lack of exercising, you can guess what followed next: stretch marks. I couldn't believe it. I was always skeptical about whether oils and lotions worked to prevent stretch marks but I figured it couldn't hurt, so I bought the entire aisle at the drug store and used every product religiously during my pregnancy. My mom had no stretch marks from when she was pregnant so I was sure that I was in the clear. NOPE. The lovely stretch marks on my stomach decided to show up at week 37 (just when I thought I had made it through pregnancy without them). All this to say that I had a plan when I started my pregnancy: I was going to be healthy, eat healthy and love life, but everything slowly fell apart. I felt an immense amount of disappointment for not being able to have the dream type of pregnancy that I so often saw on Instagram. I was pissed off that I was fat, in pain and generally unhappy, but there was unfortunately nothing I could do. The swelling made me high risk and I was soon not even allowed to go to work. I was never able to go back to the gym, and even now postpartum, my doctor after 8 weeks has finally given me the OK to start again. I had this vision of a perfect pregnancy in my head and I feel that it made my reality that much more disappointing. There isn't much I could have done differently, and for my next pregnancy, I'll make sure to have lower expectations (the only one being to have a healthy baby).
4. Nesting is a real thing and it will hit you like a ton of bricks
I imagine nesting feels a little different to every mama, but for me, it was an overwhelming sense of urgency to have the baby room set up and to have everything perfect. It was a physical, emotional and mental obsession that I couldn't get rid of. I was due March 4th (baby Zane came a bit early on Feb 28th) and my nesting hit full force around January. Before then, I was in no real rush to have anything ready. I was actually extremely tired during my pregnancy and the idea of setting anything up beyond the crib was exhausting. When my nesting kicked it, I all of a sudden started setting up cabinets and dressers and going to baby stores and buying chairs (obviously waiting for my husband to help me was out of the question... that was too logical for my mommy brain). I spent hours every day washing clothes, scrubbing the floor, dusting - and it wasn't limited to the baby room. I all of a sudden had a compulsion to re-organize my entire house. From top to bottom, no drawer would be left unturned. In retrospect - and for my next baby, knowing that this urge is coming, I will definitely make sure to start before I am 7 months pregnant. Have you ever heard of the saying: slow and steady wins the race? I think this applies to anything to do with pregnancy LOL. The farther along in your pregnancy you get, the harder moving becomes and you will constantly feel out of breath - so the smaller the belly the easier it will all be :).
5. Your husband might disappoint you (ok he definitely will) at some point.
Let me start off by saying that I have the most amazing hubby. I am super fortunate and he really did try his best to make my pregnancy as easy as possible for me. I didn't lift a finger (until the nesting started LOL) my entire pregnancy and he really did try his best to not disappoint... but lets face it... they aren't and never will be pregnant. Your husband will never understand what it feels like to have a human growing inside of you. He won't understand why you're so tired and although he'll try, he won't understand why its so depressing when you find your first stretch mark. He won't understand why you're so sad about gaining weight - he'll tell you you're beautiful and that you're pregnant so it's normal. Your husband may also not get as excited as you for the big baby milestones. I remember my hubby came with me to my first few ultrasound appointments but after that lost interest until he could hold his son in his arms. I also remember running to him the first time the baby kicked and him not really understanding why I was so excited. My piece of advice to you is to try to not kill him LOL. Because attempting to strangle him won't make him understand and although it'll help you relieve some stress momentarily, you'll need him shortly after to go get you some ice cream from the freezer!
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