For me, it was not at all like I imagined. The moment life changed forever did not happen like it does in the movies. It didn’t take months of trying. My husband wasn’t there with me holding my hand as we waited three minutes for the results.
It was just me, the infamous pee stick and the moon (obviously, since they say the first time to the bathroom in the morning offers the most accurate results and who can wait later than 3 a.m. to try such a thing?). Pregnant. Clear as day, there it was. The little plus sign was looking up at me much sooner than the three-minute waiting period the box said to expect. In that moment I knew life would never be the same again in the best kind of way. But, shortly after waking my husband by waving the tiny white stick in his face, I realized something else.
Pregnancy is not like the books. Like the tiny bundles of joy the experience produces, no two pregnancies are the same. No two women are the same. Yet after having two babies of my own, I’ve discovered there are some similarities among every pregnancy and, ultimately every labor and delivery. The most important commonality is that there are so many things ladies wish they had known prior to or during pregnancy.
To sum it up, here are some of my thoughts on being pregnant:
Google is both your best friend and worst enemy.
At all hours of the day (and night), you will find yourself reading about things you never imagined. Cheeseburger crotch? Lightning crotch? Feet growing a full size and never going back? These are real (strange and painful) things some women experience that I had never heard of before being pregnant. My caution here is to browse with caution. While a lot of information on the web, and in the pregnancy books, is helpful, some can be incredibly troubling if it doesn’t actually apply to you. The best idea is to always start with your doctor’s office. They mean it when they say you should call with any questions.
Pregnancy math sucks.
Nine months is a joke created by Hollywood to glamorize all things pregnancy. Sure, you get a free pass at the beginning. You’re two weeks “pregnant” before you even conceive. And that also means any mistakes you may have made (medicines you took, or alcohol you binged on, for example) don’t have as negative an impact as you may think. But what a lot of women don’t realize until later is that those two weeks count toward 40 total weeks of pregnancy. Granted, most women are considered “full term” at 38 weeks, but 40 weeks is the industry standard for pregnancy length. And that equals ten months (not nine, like we’ve always thought).
Pain is real, and not just during labor.
Being pregnant comes with its fair share of aches and pains in places you didn’t even know could hurt like that. Round ligament pain, morning sickness that lasts all day and distinctly terrible heartburn are three of the symptoms I’ve personally battled with that I wasn’t expecting. Some friends of mine have even said they had really bad pain around their belly button throughout pregnancy. Also Braxton-Hicks contractions are indeed an all-too-real preview of what’s to come in labor.
Sleep before you get pregnant.
I want to laugh when I hear people say to take advantage of sleep while being pregnant because you won’t get any when the baby comes. Both of my pregnancies have been plagued with insomnia, mostly thanks to getting up to go to the bathroom every two to three hours and not being able to fall back asleep. The difference between my first and second pregnancies? The second time around, I knew these were the approximate intervals I would be waking up with the baby in a few short months, so it is indeed nature’s way of training me to survive on minimal sleep.
After-birth can be scary and painful too.
From my balloon-like swollen feet to my heavy reliance on ice diapers and the dreaded mesh panties for the first several weeks, nothing adequately prepared me for the mystery of what happens after the baby is born. If you choose to breastfeed, cramps can be debilitating for the first few weeks as your uterus goes back down to size. Pooping, let alone sneezing, coughing or laughing, are all incredibly terrifying if you’ve had any tearing (which many women do). And the baby blues, while they didn’t happen for me, are a very real thing. In this case, my advice would be to talk to friends who have been through it beforehand. Plan a few mommy dates on your own with a close friend or family member in those weeks following the birth. These things will go a long way toward helping keep you sane and grounded in what is, in reality, one of the most special times of your life.