Throughout my pregnancy, I was told by countless people about the different things I would suffer through. Some of those warnings were appreciated and 100% valid (for example: make sure you have lanolin). Others, not so much. I decided to put together a list of my own advice and input, to give my friends who haven’t yet joined the ‘mommy club’ a bit of insight.
1. Sleep: it doesn’t exist. I put in about 3 nights in a row of feeding every hour, on the hour. Add in the fact that my little guy was still getting the hang of eating and each feeding took about 45 minutes, that equals roughly 5 minutes of sleep per hour (because I have to deduct the ten minutes of grabbing some water, using the bathroom, and crossing my fingers that the whimpers I was hearing COULDN’T be a fussy baby AGAIN. No worries, it was).
2. Sleep gets better: I now have a 3 week old, and he definitely still wakes up at night, but he has at least decided to give me about 3 hours to sleep in between demanding a midnight snack. It is amazing how ‘rested’ you will feel getting 6 hours of broken up sleep after a week of getting zero.
3. Babies set the schedule: if you are planning on breast feeding a growing baby, be prepared to stop everything at the drop of a hat (or in this case, the cry of a fussy baby). I am continually amazed at this child’s ability to eat. As I type this we are currently on dinner number ‘4’, which should hold him over now until his midnight snack. I get frantic at Target if I can tell he is getting hungry, I schedule coffee dates around his meal times, and when we get home from our morning walk I practically dive into the shower because being removed from his car seat obviously can only mean it is time for his hourly feast. He is so cute, I don’t mind.
4. Caffeine: delivering your baby is NOT a green light to indulge in coffee/your favorite caffeinated beverage. Why? Everything you eat/drink is now passed onto your baby through their feedings. My family brought me a VENTI caramel macchiato in the hospital, and the lactation consultant basically made me feel as if I was trying to kill my baby (she wasn’t my favorite, the last thing I needed after my first night was a lecture). I now schedule when I drink my coffee around when little man eats (read: grab coffee the second he is done with his morning meal, not before or during), and don’t touch spicy foods, because I can’t imagine mango habanero boneless wings would be easy on a baby belly.
5. Alcohol: haha! Still waiting on my hard cider. They say you can have a drink if you have it right after a feeding so it has a chance to get out of your system before the next feeding. But refer back to #3: not really worth the risk when baby wants to eat every. single. hour. Once we start introducing a bottle in a week or two, I think I will finally treat myself!
6. Pregnancy will make you fat, miserable, and huge: Again, keep up the exercise and remind yourself that being pregnant isn’t an excuse to devour an entire pan of brownies (at least not every day, because I am guilty of putting down my fair share of brownies) and you should be able to keep the misery somewhat at bay. Some things, like swelling, complications, etc. are out of our control, but I honestly felt my best during my pregnancy after I had worked out, even at 8 months pregnant.
7. Don’t waste your money on stretch mark creams: I have NO IDEA if it really helps or not, and as I said before, I was only pregnant for 8 months and not 9, BUT I religiously put on lotion, used oil infused scrubs, etc., and escaped pregnancy #1 without stretch marks. It might be due to good genes, but had those lovely suckers appeared, I would have been able to sleep soundly knowing I would have gotten them no matter what because I had done everything I could have. I also personally loved the smells of the lotions, and as I fit into less of my wardrobe and began to walk a bit more like a duck, it was nice to ‘pamper’ myself a little with new products, If it gives you peace of mind, go spend $20 on a bottle of lotion or a belly bar, and don’t feel guilty about it for one second.
8. A boy/girl is better/easier/what you need: I am going to be brutally honest; I was a little heartbroken after my ultrasound. I wanted a pink little princess more than I can put into words. I wondered how I would handle a boy. I worried I wouldn’t feel as connected (I will chalk that up to my relationship with my mom, I sooo desperately wanted a mother daughter relationship with a child like what I have with her). And then my perfect, screaming baby boy was laid on my chest and my heart practically exploded. I can’t imagine him being any other person, with any other gender, hair color, or name. I love him so much I am willing to make mud pies and play super heroes when the inevitable day comes and he asks. He is exactly what I needed, and any baby you are blessed with will be. Once you meet your little person, you wouldn’t change one hair on their head.
9. Loving your baby: you will love your little person more than you knew possible. I remember everyone telling me this, and I knew it was true and looked forward to it. But what you feel when your baby is eating, sleeping in your arms, or just hanging out in their swing listening to theirs lullabies (I could literally watch him swing all day) really can’t be put into words. I regularly burst into tears when I’m hanging out with my little handsome, and beg him to stay little forever. It’s a love like no other and once you feel it, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
10. Everything will be the same for everyone: I have heard horror stories, happy stories, inspiring stories, and terrifying stories. I have seen adorable pregnant women, and women who look beaten down. I have seen mamas who look like a million bucks days after giving birth, and mamas with toddlers who still feel frazzled. I have seen people drop the baby weight immediately, and people who never drop the baby weight. At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules for how you will handle pregnancy, how you will recover, and what the future holds for you and your new family. No matter what path pregnancy takes you down, though, know that the prize at the end is 100% worth it, and every mama that gets to hold her little miracle at the end of the 9 month (or lifelong, depending how you look at it) battle is the luckiest woman in the world.