First of all, I'm no expert. Although, I may look like one. ;)
I just thought I would give you all a little bit of insight into what I've learned being pregnant 4 times.
Some people LOVE being pregnant. For others, it's a moderate to severe form of torture. I can safely say I fall into the middle of those two categories, so I'm not going to paint you a picture of sunshine and roses. I also, won't FREAK you out. (well, I don't know, some of my experiences fall into both of those scenarios as well) I'm just going to start.
This is MY experience. Maybe you'll find a little truth in it from yours too.
1. EVERY PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT. I know you hear it often, but it is true. From conception, to pregnancy, to labor, delivery, recovery, child rearing....and so on and so forth.
2. Advice is often hilarious after 4 pregnancies because of Number 1.
3. Advice when you are pregnant the first time is OVERWHELMING because of Number 1 as well. It's hard to know what to believe. Take it with a grain of salt. Unfortunately only YOU know how you feel, what your body is telling you, what your baby is telling you, etc.
4. Conception was unexpected for 3 out of the 4 of our children. One of them we tried for 8 months. 2 of them had a shock value of 12 on a scale of 1-10. By far the most emotionally charged part of my pregnancies besides actually holding my newborn babies in my arms for the first time.
5. Google pregnancy symptoms and I have probably had all of them at one point during the 4 pregnancies. Yuck.
6. My initial doctor's appointment includes an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and determine due date. I realize only after they tell me there's only one in there that I had not really been breathing for the first part of the appointment. RELIEF is AMAZING! KUDOS to my MOMMIES of MULTIPLES friends, you are another form of SuperHero!
7. I have a bicornuate uterus. Found out when I was pregnant with Baby #1. I googled it. Don't ever do that. (LoL! I say that, but I totally do this all the time) It says it makes it very hard to conceive and carry children full term. (possibly why I go early?) Anyway, I'm on Baby #4. Apparently my uterus doesn't care what WebMD thinks.
8. Maternity pants are a SLICE OF HEAVEN. Stretchy, yet supportive. Don't fight it.
9. On the subject of Maternity clothes...unless you are one of those moms I hate (only kidding...kinda) you will wear maternity clothes after baby too. Try to buy larger sizes of "normal clothes" that are just longer in the torso. Case and point: I have been sporting Maternity wear for 7 years straight. woah. that was depressing putting that on paper.
10. Cravings are real. There have been moments when I've loaded all 3 kids in the car to run out and satisfy a desire. If you have lots of small children (think 3 5-point harnesses and winter jackets), you know how powerful that craving must have been.
11. Also food aversions. This may even apply to non-preggos too. If you have a shared work break room, please do not microwave FISH. ever.
12. Feeling the little baby flutters for the first time. NEVER. GETS. OLD.
13. Feeling the baby kick you in the belly button when your stomach muscles are flexed feels like someone punches you in the gut. I've actually given some stink-eyes to a few innocent bystanders. oops!
14. You get to experience growing pains in places you didn't know you had.
15. Things swell. in weird places.
16. Things widen, besides your waist and chest. Your hips. Your feet. I've gone up a shoe size.
17. DRINK MORE WATER. Glad I said this, gonna go down a glass right now.
18. SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN. This is so very important. First time moms have NO idea the luxury they have of nap times. I didn't. There is a reason that everyone says it. It is one of the only pieces of advice I back 110% and will freely give out to every preggo I meet.
19. In lieu of #18, the hospital is your friend. I know what you are thinking. You want to get home. You want to start your family life with you and your baby and your hubby and your nice comfy bed. THERE ARE NO NURSES AT HOME. THERE IS NO CALL BUTTON. THERE IS NO FOOD SERVICE. I was eager to get home after #1. I learned real quick after that. Here's the beautiful thing about the hospital. It's quiet. The staff is TRAINED to take care of you and your baby. You can still nurse or feed your baby whenever they are hungry or crying (just let them know this is your request) They will bring the baby to you, get you water, perhaps another pillow, bring you food....AROUND THE CLOCK. Then you can sleep without worry....I'm a bit passionate about this one. None of this will happen in your home, at least not for very long.
20. The more times you are pregnant, the less people care. Sad, but true. You practically become an expert after number 1....by number 4, it's almost like a new outfit.
21. Growing a person does crazy things to your body. Pregnancies #1 & #2, I was the bill of health. No abnormal test results to speak of (for me). #3 sent my Thyroid wacko, and I've had to be on meds ever since...fluctuating, of course, which means monthly blood draws. #4: still dealing with Thyroid draws, but now I'm in Glucose Tolerance testing land.
22. Glucose Tolerance Testing. Gross. That drink is disgusting, so pray you don't have to do it more than once. For the first time, I graduated to the 3hr GTT. This means fasting for 8 hours, getting your blood drawn, drinking that sugary crap, and drawing your blood 3 more times in one-hour intervals. Making pregnant women fast is just mean. Making them drink a sugar drink then draw their blood over 3 hours without eating anything more....pure evil.
23. I don't have "good blood drawing veins". :(
24. Pillows are heavenly clouds. Use them to sleep. Use them to sit. Your back with thank you.
25. We are "Surprise" kind of people. We haven't found out the baby's gender prior to birth. This is awesome for 2 reasons. 1) BEST Surprise ever! A truly awesome moment when the doctor announces to you and your hubby what "it" is. 2) you have gender neutral clothes for subsequent children. If you plan on having more babies...you're all set for the first few months cause everyone will gift you neutral items.
26. You will only be showered once. (as in Baby shower) See #20 LOL! No, honestly though, after the first one, you really do have the essentials (and non-essentials) needed to care for the babe.
27. Things we got for Baby #1 that we barely used: Diaper Genie, Bottle Warmer, Baby Powder
28. Things we used for Baby #1 that we NEVER used after that: baby monitor, baby mobile, Diaper Genie, Bottle Warmer, Changing table, Baby Powder
29. Baby carriers are awesome, and sometimes the only serenity you will have. That little munchkin is used to being warm and snugly inside you, they may want your skin-to-skin all the time
30. FREEZER MEALS! Something you can do ahead of time. There are great books, blogs, Pinterest boards, and Parties that can help you prepare. Make meals ahead of time and stock the freezer. CANNOT be more thankful to have some meals ready to go in the freezer. One less thing you have to think about.
31. Ultrasounds are the coolest. You get to see your baby for the first time after feeling them move inside of you. I totally recommend having your children/spouse with you. Your pregnancy is REAL for you from day one, but they won't really get it until they see it.
32. Speaking of "getting it", my hubby didn't really get it until Baby #1 was out and in his arms. That's a hard thing for daddys to comprehend. Remember, YOU alone feel them growing inside you and kicking, and hiccuping....
33. Baby movement is one part amazing, one part reassuring, one part painful. Even having 4 pregnancies in 7 years, I forgot how crazy it all is. The painful part doesn't come until the end...and then it's only when somethings lodged somewhere, or you are in just the right(wrong) position (see #13)
34. Energy levels go as follows: Exhaustion in your 1st Trimester, Feeling good in the 2nd, Back to exhaustion in your 3rd. And nobody will tell your body to obey this standard. SO you may not have exhaustion or energy at all. Again with the "everyone is different" comment.
35. Sit down. Feet up. I've pushed myself to some limits carrying my children. Although you think you can do it, sometimes, you just can't. Listen to your body. If you are tired. You are tired. You need to relax a bit too.
36. Let/Encourage your kiddos to talk to/kiss/zerbert your belly. It's adorable. They love it. You'll love it. And it makes this baby coming more real to them.
37. The bigger you get (closer you get to due date) the clingier my children become. They sense the change. Especially the tiny ones. Probably because at some point you stop treating them like a baby and start using language like, "you're a BIG boy/girl now" They LATCH ON. It makes me nervous for their feelings/reactions to when the new little one arrives, but so far they've been AMAZING! (See #36, it helps a LOT)
38. Dropsies. It's a real thing. Starting early on in my pregnancies, I drop things. Random things. Pens. Granola Bars. Any small thing that just necessary enough that you have to bend down and pick it up. (thankfully no children yet), and then, just when I think I'm getting over that, my over-sized belly knocks things off of tables. It's a sad fact. Case of the Dropsies. Bonus: having small little helpers around to pick things up for you!
39. People will offer to pick things you drop up for you, and help you carry things. Let them. When they offer a seat, take it. (I know I need to follow my own advice more, but I really am getting much better at this one)
41. Warm bathes.
42. Rice Bags. If you don't have one. Make one. You don't even need to sew if you don't want to. Buy a Set of Tube socks, fill them with rice, tie the end off. (Optional: add an essential oil like orange or lavender) FREEZE ONE: In the freezer, it comes out as a COOL Pack and is AMAZING for aches and pains. With my TWO babes born at the end of summer it was amazing to just rest it on my belly where the stretching hurt or around my neck. MICROWAVE ONE: HEAT Pack for you back, shoulders, anything! Think postpartum too :)
43. EPIDURALS. I am a fan. My first two labors were 24 hours long. I didn't get the epidural the first 18 hours. So, I know the pain of labor quite well. Labor #3 progressed much faster: only 7 hours. Got Epidural after 4 hours. Worst part about it all...getting the IV started for fluids. (I don't have "good veins")
44. 1st Labor: Induced from NOTHING 3 weeks early. LOTS of Pitocin. HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. Epidural wore off. Nurse wouldn't believe me for 3 hours. Thing I learned: A GOOD Labor/Delivery Nurse is INVALUABLE!
45. 2nd Labor: Water broke at work 3 weeks early. Contractions 2 minutes apart, no dilation. Serious Power Walking the halls for 5+ hours....LONG Labor. got epidural, it wore off. This time people believed me. Fixed ASAP. :)
46. 3rd Labor: False Alarm the week before. Started spotting following week. Called Doctor, and she said come in. I was 5cm dilated and my "bag 'o water" was bulging out. Sent me up to an L&D room and broke it for me. dilated to 8 in the next couple hours. Took 2 more hours, 6 tries, and 4 nurses to start my IV.
47. AFTER 3 Births...Here's my reality: PAINFUL IV start. Epidural fine, except husband will not like it at all. He puts on a brave face for me though. Relax a bit. NEED to vomit. NEED TO. Just let me, I'll be cool after that. (I barely take any pain meds, ever. I will puke every time you give me something stronger than Tylenol or Ibprofen) Once vomiting is over, I'm good. Relax a bit. Finish the dilating thing. 4 or 5 contractions of pushing....babies are out in 15 minutes or less. Every time.
48. Each of my babies grew by TWO POUNDS.
- #1. 3 weeks early: 5lbs. 7oz.
- #2 3 weeks early: 7 lbs. 13oz.
- #3 2.5 weeks early: 9lbs. 2oz.
- #4 TBD
50. Remember the Grinch? How his Heart Grew? It is an an indescribable feeling to have your heart grow with each babe. I don't ever have a feeling of the gender beforehand, but as soon as they place the baby on my chest I can literally FEEL my HEART ENLARGE. That might explain the tears. It's the most overwhelming experience I have ever had. And to have it happen more than once is UNBELIEVABLE!
51. There is NOTHING like seeing your baby in your husband's arms for the first time.
52. Closest thing I'll ever feel to God's love for me is holding my newborn baby in my arms for the first time and having their tiny eyes meet mine.
53. It's okay to now "kindly instruct" someone in the room to get the camera. (Preferably brief them ahead of time...but they'll need reminding at this point)
54. Food will probably never taste so good. I could have eaten anything they put in front of me a couple hours after birth.
55. Recovery hurts.
56. Accept help of every kind. Meals. Childcare or play dates for the older ones. Letting someone else carry the car seat with baby.
57. I am a HUGE supporter of nursing. It's not easy. It may be painful (in fact, starting out, I guarantee it will be painful) For me, it is cheap, convenient, a cherished bonding time, and in full supply.
58. If you don't nurse your baby. I do NOT judge. A happy Mom is a Happy LIFE for EVERYONE. Do what it right for you and your family.
59. Someone is always looking at you in reverence thinking they can't possibility do what you do.
60. Someone is always looking at you judgingly thinking they would never do what you do.
61. See 59 and 60. I never judge another mommy. Being a mom is hard enough. We need all the support we can get and give.
62. Peri-bottles. Use them. You will know what I'm talking about when you need to.
63. The more times you give birth, the less people care. Hospital visitors drop exponentially.
64. Number 20 and 63 are actually not REALLY true, people care. They just aren't sure what to do. Usually, it's other moms that WANT to help, but you won't except because now you know how busy their lives are too. Husbands are busy trying to do all the things you usually do (i.e. taking care of the other children solo)
65. If you have other children at home already, relish your hospital stay and the lack of visitors.
66. Public appearances when pregnant change with each one.
- 1st pregnancy: "You're Glowing" Smiles & Compliments on your beauty and excitement overflwoing for your pending arrival.
- 2nd pregnancy (assuming you have your 1st child in tow): Congratulations! Wonderment at how you possibly can handle one child AND be pregnant. You feel pretty awesome about your decision to reproduce again.
- 3rd pregnancy (with 2 children in tow): the word WOW will be overused. Looks of amazement fade into looks of pity. "You must be busy!" is repeated constantly, and you are not sure if they are commenting on your mothering skills or your sex life....then they follow up with "you look tired" Which makes you certain you look like crap.
- 4th pregnancy (with the 3 kids in tow, assuming you ever are brave enough to venture out): Silence. Pity looks are almost welcome, because you mostly get "you are crazy" stares. Real boost to the confidence level.
68. Waddling is Sexy. Nope, it totally isn't, but if you keep repeating it in your head while walking, you'll feel much better about your new form of transportation.
69. When you become pregnant, you suddendly have a completely different outlook on other women: pregnant women, women who cannot bear children, women who choose not to have children, women who have had multiple children, your own mother, your grandmother, adoptive moms, etc. I'm not going to tell you HOW your perspective will change. I am just telling you, it most certainly will.
70. When you GIVE Birth...your perception of the following women will again change: pregnant women, women who cannot bear children, women who choose not to have children, women who have had multiple children, your own mother, your grandmother, adoptive moms, etc. I'm not going to tell you HOW your perspective will change. I am just telling you, it most certainly will.
71. Make certain you are comfortable with your doctor, midwife, doula, whomever you choose to help you welcome your baby into the world. Throughout the months of pregnancy, you will have LOTS of uncomfortable/embarrassing questions...and you'll want to be able to talk with them opening about them. Also, you may have a different opinion on certain types of care....you want to feel free voicing those as well.
72. Peace and quiet will leave you as soon as you go home.
73. In the final weeks of pregnancy, you will hear 3 types of commenters:
- Women that either have forgotten what it's like to be pregnant or who have never been pregnant, and they will say things like: You're HUGE! Haven't you had that baby yet? or WOW! That went quick!
- Women who remember what it was like: How are you doing? Hang in there! I know how you feel...
- Men who will just stare and move quickly away because they are certain if they talk to you or look at you in a certain way, you will most certainly go into labor immediately and they will have to deliver said baby for you.
75. I have forgotten pregnancy pains 3 times now. How does that happen? Apparently it's true what they say...It's ALL worth it!
76. Signs of labor were DIFFERNT with all three.
- #1 I was induced from NOTHING 3 weeks early. Pitocin is a PAINFUL route to induce labor when your body isn't ready.
- #2 Water broke 3 weeks early, still 24 hours of labor....
- #3 Had contractions for a good week, even went in under false alarm once....called Dr. went I started spotting, she had me come in and I was already 5cm dialted....sent me up to the room, baby born 7 hours later.
78. Up side to baby dropping.... you CAN BREATHE again!
79. My children think the Baby took my Belly Button. I'll be happy to let them know when I get it back :)
80. Even with all my "experience"...I still have days I'm scared of labor/delivery.
I'm sure there are many more things I am forgetting, but I wanted to publish this before the Baby came out! :) I'd love to hear your additions! Leave a comment below, and we can all learn from each other!