Not many people warn a first time pregnant mom about the realities or miseries of pregnancy, instead only warm and fuzzy stories are shared. I was completely naive about pregnancy and what my body was about to endure, so I wanted to make a top 10 list of the things I learned and/or experienced.
1. It is very difficult to only gain the recommended 25 – 30 lbs. I put on a whopping 57 lbs with my little guy and I walked several miles per day! Oddly enough, eating was the only thing that made me feel better during the first trimester. I even woke up starving in the middle of the night and would have to eat.
2. Morning sickness needs a new name. I felt queasy all day long during the first trimester and threw up daily from week 7 to 14. Smells were the absolute worst for me (fabric softeners, colognes, perfumes, lotions, refrigerators, food cooking, and the grocery meat counter were just a few smells that triggered my gag reflex). I learned that eating small frequent meals seemed to help ease my queasiness.
3. It’s not a pregnancy glow, it’s greasy skin! The only reason people said I was glowing was because of all the fattening, greasy food that was coming out of my pores. In addition to the grease, I was continuously sweating because I was overheated.
4. I think I am an elephant! It’s amazing how much water my body retained! I actually referred to my ankles as “cankles” since I couldn’t tell where my calves ended and ankles began. One friend actually referred to my feet as livestock. Some friend, huh? The only thing that helped with my fluid retention was swimming (I actually felt human in a pool)!
5. There is no such thing as sleep. During the third trimester, I had the worst case of pregnancy insomnia. Besides, I was so enormous that it was impossible to get comfortable. I found my recliner was the best choice for sleeping since it was easy to get out of for my frequent bathroom trips. I do believe this was nature’s way of preparing me for being up with my newborn, but I needed my sleep…I was creating life which was no easy task!
6. Just because it’s your first baby, doesn’t mean you’ll be in labor forever! I wanted to make sure what I was experiencing was true labor, so I walked 3 miles while timing my contractions. I finally left for the hospital when my contractions were 2 minutes apart and to my surprise, I was 6 1/2 cm dilated upon arrival. By the time I was moved to a room (within an hour) and ready to get my epidural, I was almost 8 cm!
7. Practice breathing techniques so you can somewhat relax during labor. As mentioned previously, my labor progressed so quickly that even my Dr. was baffled. I took the easy way out with a one-day Lamaze class that was not hands-on (I didn’t want to spend multiple days sitting in a classroom and felt silly role playing with pillows). I was given a CD to practice breathing and never used it. I regret this because I found myself almost hyperventilating with my continuous contractions. It took the anesthesiologist three attempts to get the epidural in my back because I could not sit still.
8. Don’t assume you won’t have a cesarean section. I never dreamed I’d end up with an emergency c-section so I didn’t pay attention to that chapter in my birthing class. I wish I did because I would have had a better idea about what to expect with the procedure as well as recovery.
9. Don’t expect to leave the hospital at your pre-pregnancy size after giving birth. I still looked about 6 or 7 months pregnant when I left the hospital with my bundle of joy, so I was glad I packed maternity clothing to wear home. Reality is, my body changed shapes during pregnancy and thanks to my c-section, I’ll probably never be my pre-pregnancy size again. My son is almost a year old and I am still carrying an extra 10 lbs (but could stand to lose more than that)!
10. Breast feeding is not easy! I understand why some women choose not to breast feed, it really takes a lot of time and energy. For the first 3 months, I felt like all I did was feed my son 24/7! He was a frequent eater (every 90 minutes to 3 hours) and it was exhausting and painful at times. I stuck with it for 10 1/2 months until he went on a nursing strike. The bonding experience was truly amazing and I’m glad breast feeding is the route we took.
The excitement about becoming a mom and feeling the baby move were the highlights of my pregnancy. The majority of my pregnancy was completely miserable, but the end-result was so worthwhile! There is nothing like gazing into your baby’s eyes for the first time! My son is such a blessing and I thank God for him every single day.