Monday, February 20, 2012

what i wish i wouldve known the FIRST time i was pregnant.

when you find yourself expecting (for the first time, or any after that for that matter) it is a magical, wonderful time. also a time in your life when you will receive the most unsolicited advice EVER. you will also be privy to the most scary horror stories your ears have ever encountered.
and while some advice is great, some is ridiculous and the horror stories? come on! who wants to be told terrible things when they are creating something absolutely miraculous?!

what i wish i would've been told when i was expecting that first time are these things: (feel free to add to this, as i'm sure i will, i'm expecting #3 in august and i know i will learn more this time around)

*there are NO stupid questions. ask your doctor EVERYTHING you want to know. while some things are safe, not everything is. and you know that unsolicited advice? well, you'll get tons of crazy tips, advice and warnings. TONS.
i was told early on to NEVER put my hands above my head as it would cause the umbilical cord to rap around the baby's neck, causing strangulation. THAT is malarky...but i was young, impressionable, and worried i was going to kill my baby by hanging up my coat.

*morning sickness doesnt always hit every pregnant lady. neither does every other tell-tale symptom. it does not/should not raise any red flags. so unless your doctor is concerned...ignore all the crazy people who say "oh, your boobs arent sore? MINE were sore every time...are you sure youre pregnant?" feel free to poke those folks in the eyeballs.

*you are a mommy from conception- forward. dont let anyone tell you otherwise. i was told i couldnt participate in some specific "mother" games/events because i wasnt "technically" a mother yet. it broke my heart. i had heard the heart beat. i had seen the baby move. i had given her a name.  i sang to her. i talked to her. i felt her move daily...but i wasnt a mother?? craziness! i was too timid to argue. dont be. i regret that i didnt fight back. i was 5 months pregnant and very much in mommy mode.

*feel free to stop the horror stories.
when someone starts telling you some terrible pregnancy horror story, feel free to stop them...or walk away. you are in NO WAY obligated to listen to some bloody gory story. i've no idea why, but when you become pregnant, people all the sudden feel comfortable telling you really terrible things. most of them will keep you up at night worrying like crazy. walk away. not every pregnancy is bad, not every labor is 72 hours. you do not have to listen to that crap.
-me, for labor was easy peasy. especially Amelia. i pushed once. i've been told before (when ladies are sitting around trading their labor stories) that mine didnt count because it was "too easy". dont hate. just because i dont have a bloody war story of labor doesnt mean mine doesnt count. i enjoy telling people my labor story because it's NOT SCARY. pregnant women have enough to worry about, stop scaring us. meanies.

*prepare early on. 2nd trimester is a great time to start, unless you are blessed and have no morning sickness. i waited till the very last minute for everything with my first born...and it was TERRIBLE!! people kept telling me..."well, something might happen...and you could lose the baby...i'd wait before i'd prepare for the baby." i was cursing those people during the first months of Lily's life. i couldnt find ANYTHING. nothing was unpacked, the nursery wasnt ready...and bottles...what bottles?? i was LOST! and listen, YES, there is *always* the possibility of something happening but the fact of the matter is, the first time you see that little heart beating, anywhere from about 6 weeks on...your risk of miscarriage goes down to about 5%. and not to be a fatalist but something could ALWAYS happen...whenever...that doesnt stop us from decorating rooms, buying toys (for preparation for christmas, birthdays, etc)

*you cant tell people youre expecting till the second trimester. also a bunch of crap. see above for reasons...but i'll add this: i've suffered a miscarriage at 8 weeks, 4 days, and let me tell you, it was easier and more comforting to have everyone there, praying for me and giving me support, instead of quietly suffering through my loss alone with my husband. ultimately, this should be YOUR decision. no one else's. you do what you are comfortable with.

*birth plans.
these "plans" make me laugh. now, dont get me wrong, some women swear by them, love them, save them, etc.
me? yeah..not so much. my plan? PAIN FREE. close family/friends can be present. everything is put in God's hands. i do what the doctor says is best. if he says c section, i will be nervous, but i trust my doctor's judgment. i will NOT stomp my feet and cry because my "plan" wasnt followed to a T.
the idea of music playing, quietness...etc make me roll my eyes. again, some ladies do this crap and have great success. i could care less. birth is not play by play planning. it is different every time and no one but God knows how it's going to play out...and chances are that music you choose...when those contractions start rolling in, you'll be singing a different tune, as in shut that crap noise off. (plus i really enjoying hearing my baby's heart beat and knowing she was doing fine throughout my labor. music wouldve ruined that for me.)

*no epidural = i'm a beter woman than you.
BIG FAT NO. pain management is everyone's personal choice. if you choose to "feel everything" then go you. i've watched too many birthing shows with "better than thou" women preaching the drug free way and then labor comes and they're crying and begging for drugs. again, you have no clue how your labor is going to go. stop trying to plan every little detail.
i prefer to feel a *little* and be relaxed enough to dilate on my own (with no pitocin drip) and let labor go however. why put yourself through insane amounts of pain that (oh yes you will remember later). i very vividly remember the pain i felt with Lily, after the epidural wore off. i was ready to kill someone. i never want to feel that again. so just remember, pain management is YOUR choice. it makes you no better or worse as a mom. i'm tense person. pain management works well for me for labor.

*breast feeding.
i highly highly recommend giving this a shot. i had these magical images in my head of breast feeding my daughter  (cue the rainbows and unicorns) and no one told me otherwise. people would ask if i was going to, i would say yes, and i would get the commendable back pat for being such an awesome mom.
*nobody* told me how bad it would hurt!!! also, equally important, *nobody* told me that if i stuck with it, at about the 2 month mark, a routine is established, and the pain you endured is nearly completely gone. also, around this time, you can start pumping (not before- you want to get a good established milk supply) and saving up and letting dad or siblings bottle feed- if you so choose. 
you need a great support system. you need help...and you sort of need to throw modesty out the window for a little while. "let down" is important and it doesnt happen if you're uptight and nervous. you have to be relaxed.
it is great, wonderful, and awesome for baby (and you). give it a shot. try to stick with it...but if, for whatever reason, it doesnt work. DO NOT guilt trip yourself for not sticking with it. you're dealing with enough. hormonally, you have been through the gamut. dont add anything else to your plate. give yourself permission to quit and let it go. *any* breast milk your baby gets is better than none.

*dont give the baby a pacifier, it will cause nipple confusion!
okay, so i dont know if we're just insanely blessed as parents or what, but my two girls have NEVER had nipple confusion. we've breastfed, bottle fed, gave them crazy amounts of different pacifiers and bottles for that matter...and never had one single issue. in fact, it seems to help around here to change things up occassionally. lily gave up her "binkie" without so much as a fuss. and amelia has already started sippy cup training. dont scare yourself into not giving your child a soother. babies need to suck, so unless youre willing to let your boob become a pacifier, buy some binkies.

*do not be afraid of your baby
they are remarkably made. dont be afraid to change your baby, give your baby a bath, or anything else. enjoy this time. it passes quickly. i do offer this advice: get a baby tub. everyone told me the sink was fine, but i was a terrified parent, afraid to touch my baby, let alone put her in a hard sink. that little baby tub gave me peace of mind. if you need it, get one. amelia (baby #2) is almost 7 months and we still occassionally use it.

*do what your doctor/pediatrician says
you will get more insane advice once the baby is born. like this: put cereal in the baby's bottle. it will help them sleep through the night. NO NO NO. not healthy. not right. ask your dr. do what they tell you to do.
and you are BOUND to hear this one. "are they sleeping through the night? no? oh...they must have their days and nights mixed up."
actually NO. every baby seems more wakeful when it's dark out. know why? your baby just spend NINE months in pretty much full on darkness. from about week 25 or later on...their eyes opened. they still only saw mostly darkness. it takes babies a while to adjust to the light of day. in the meantime, when the lights go out, watch your little one's bright eyes open up. yes, you will be insanely tired...but during this period seeing those baby eyes are *try* to enjoy it. eventually, they adjust and start sleeping more at night, it happens. just be patient.

*nothing. no amount of anything, can prepare you for how tired you are going to be during those first few months
you'll hear this a lot: "sleep when the baby sleeps" and it is true. it is the best advice you can take. please, please, try to do this. let chores go by the way side. when people come to visit and say "what can i do to help?" ask them to run a load of laundry. maybe scrub a plate or two. have no shame. YOU need your rest. please take help when it's offered. dont be proud...just say yes and thank you. those offering help will accept that thank you with a smile...most of them have been in your shoes.

*prepare, prepare, prepare.
have a deep freeze? USE it. when you're still preggo and feeling good, cook up some easy meals and freeze them. date them and place them in the deep freeze. buy paper plates, utensils, and cups. then when the baby comes and you can bare to eat another take out meal, a friend or your husband can pop that frozen meal in the oven, and *presto!* you're feeling like june cleaver, knowing you cooked this meal and have a baby in your lap. those meals are life savers...and so are the disposable tableware. USE IT!!

talk to your spouse. tell them how you're feeling. do not assume for one minute they know what youre going through. they dont. theyre clueless and needing a toss them one. are you feeling insane? overwhelmed? exhausted? tell him that! they are perfectly capable of handling their baby. take a shower. take a walk (if you feel like it) do what you need to do. just talk to your husband about how youre feeling. they need to know. and remember this now and forever: they cannot, nor have they ever, been able to read your mind. you must tell them things.
on the same note, just because they're doing something differently with the baby, does not mean they are doing it wrong. *try* not to criticize. they're just as new to this as you are and they need confidence boosters too. unless they are putting the baby in harms way, bite your tongue and could be surprised. you might just learn something.
-i did. my husband is a MASTER soother. me? i suck. even now, he can calm our girls down in a heart beat. from the get go, he was awesome at getting the water works to come to a screeching halt. learn to let go of the reins and let daddy come to the rescue. (and commend him for his efforts!! they need to know they are doing a good job- again- do not assume they know these things. share the love)

*learn to say no.

the first few weeks are critical...and special. if you dont feel like having company around, just let them know. dont feel obligated. most people understand. set up a date tentatively. if they've ever had a baby, they will know how you feel.
and again, some moms are completely up for early visits. just remember to pay attention to the time of the year (is it flu season?) and politely ask that folks wash their hands before handling your bundle of joy. you are allowed to be picky. it is YOUR baby..not theirs. and remember, if baby gets sick, you'll be pulling sick duty, not be a hand wash nazi if you have to be. (and ask if anyone has recently been sick-if they have, ask them politely to stay away for a little while.

there's way more than this...but i'm hungry and it's time for some lunch around here. i'll add more later. until then, feel free to add your own :)