Part 1: Real Notes About Becoming a Parent
I was 32 when I became pregnant. I was terrified of it, but I’ve always been terrified of pregnancy and babies. I’m not sure why because I babysat a ton when I was younger and I was the oldest out of three and had a shitload of cousins growing up.
I guess the biology behind pregnancy freaked the shit out of me and how it all worked once you had the baby…how do I stop the urge to want to go out bar hopping, listening to live music, and eating delicious food?! How do I know what to do?!
I found out you don’t. Well you do but you don’t. I’ll get back to that. First let me circle back to what I expected when I became pregnant as what it was actually like. If you’re one of those people out there frantically searching and keep coming across the “What to Expect When Expecting” or a bunch of dewey-eyed points of view from all these pregnancy lovers, then welcome to my insights.
Nineties movies were basically all I knew about pregnancy. Just a heads up, it is not like either Junior or Father of the Bride Part 2 (very disappointing!).
Don’t get me wrong pregnancy is a miracle and I don’t take for granted a second of my healthy baby’s origin story, but let me clarify I like to live. I like to run, do yoga, eat sushi and drink. I don’t go on rollercoasters but when I was pregnant I was like “OMG why is everyone suddenly getting season passes to six flags, sleeve tattoos, and trying out Krav Maga!?”. Okay, that didn’t happen but being pregnant makes you feel like that. You have to take the back burner, which I don’t like doing.
Also, when I say pregnancy is a miracle I don’t mean it in the pro-life sense. I completely support women’s rights and think if you are in need to make that kind of a decision I think the freedom of choice needs to be on your side. The last thing this world needs is another parent who: didn’t choose it, doesn’t want it, or isn’t mature enough or ready for it. Sorry didn’t mean for this to become a political rant so back to what pregnancy felt like for those of you reading this like “get to fucking point, momma”!
I expected it to feel like an alien being clinging to my organs, like in Alien, seriously. I couldn’t imagine how it’d feel. In retrospect that’s super dumb of me because it’s not like I’m ever “feeling” my lungs or femur but I know they are there inside me and working. But for those of you first timers freaking out, re-lax. You won’t feel much for a while, baby-inside-you-wise.
The first trimester is the toughest. You’re not showing, you haven’t told a bunch of people yet, and the morning sickness kicks your ass. Thankfully, I never actually got sick but there was definitely a few weeks of constant on-again-off-again nausea. You could be looking forward to eating something all day then as soon as you sit down to eat it completely repulses you. Get used to a lot of ginger ale, crackers and pretzels. I tried some of the morning sickness teas and the hard candies. I’m not sure if they worked that well or if it was more the placebo effect type thing. IMO, if you’re feelin that crappy anything is worth a shot, even if it’s placebo.
Another weird annoying thing was becoming sensitive to smell. That would get gross. I could have moonlighted as a drug dog with the K9 unit. One day I walked into 7-11 to grab milk or something and had to leave b/c whatever they had used to clean their floors was so disgusting I thought my stomach was going to explode. Your heightened sensitivity does settle back down after a few weeks, so if you find yourself getting grossed out by smells I share your pain, sista! Just hang in there. Like most things it’s just temporary.
As far as the cravings and all that it is def not like the 90s stereotype of a pregnant lady eating pickles and ice cream. It’s more like PMSy cravings but a bit more specific. When you PMS you’re like “why isn’t my desk made of chocolate?”, then you proceed to the vending machine. Pregnancy cravings for me were as much fruit as I could get and Mexican food. These items were just constantly on my grocery list. Mmmm, thinking about it now I want tacos. I guess my point with this is if you get cravings give into them! Unless you’re craving a mountain of cocaine and raw swordfish I don’t think giving into your cravings is wrong. Someone told me those cravings are things your body is lacking or needs. The fruit made sense, vitamins and all that. The Mexican I’m not so sure that theory holds but I wasn’t about to put down my Mighty Tacos.
Unless you’re craving a mountain of cocaine and raw swordfish I don’t think giving into your cravings is wrong.
Something else I experienced during pregnancy is worrying (subtext = anxiety). Worrying about the horrible things in this world, worrying about everything that could happen or go wrong, worrying about your body post-baby, worrying about the birth! There is so much to think about and worry about, it’s daunting. Before I even became pregnant I found myself going back and forth for so long with the idea of having kids because of the current state of the world. Because of the horrible things that happen, globally and personally have experienced. All I can say to that is horrible things are always going to happen. You can’t let fear stop you. I am actually pretty sure fear leads to the dark side (for any other Star Wars nerds out there). There is nothing more terrifying than knowing my daughter is out and about in this world. My goal though is to make the world afraid of my daughter. I’ll instill every ounce of knowledge, every shred of unrelenting fierce power I wish I had and tell this baby girl to hone and own it. I want her to attack life. Watching her now grow and experience the world is such an amazing feeling, you only get to feel that after you go through all the rough stuff. It’s worth it!
As far as dealing with anxiety that’s something I’m working on still. It’s a process to learn how to make your mind calm back down and re-center, but it is possible. If you find yourself really getting freaked out or in a bad mindset about what’s happening in your life, talk to your doctor. They can refer you to a therapist and really help you get your headspace right. I’ve sought out counseling a few times throughout my life. I am now finding myself post-pardum in need of some enlightenment. There is no shame is seeking help. I think it actually takes strength to admit something isn’t quite right and handling the situation before it becomes something else.
The second trimester is a bit easier. By now your first trimester crapiness should have subsided and there are a lot of adorable things to look forward to. Finding out the gender is definitely an exciting milestone and also means you’re a little over halfway through it. There’s the baby shower planning and registering (if you opt for one, and I suggest you do). Getting the nursery ready and setting it up (all that ‘nesting’ kicks in!) and enjoying the treatment you get once you start showing. People LOVE pregnant women. So take advantage of that. If anyone comes up and touches your stomach though tell them to back the hell up! That’s an invasion of space I don’t think any person appreciates.
Some not so enjoyable things to expect during the second and third acts include: nonstop peeing, constipation, not sleeping through the night due to your expanding stomach size and tender as shit breasts, feeling like a bloated monster, and going to the doctor every other week then once a week before you pop!
If your hospital or place of delivery has any crash course classes on becoming a parent or offers tours for new moms it’s worth the two hours or so out of your life. The information isn’t crazy vital (mostly common sense shit) but you’ll find you are among a population of people in the same boat and that’s oddly reassuring to know that other people are just as panicked and terrified.
Random notes: for sleeping it’s worth an investment in a larger body pillow, it’ll help balance out your out of balance bod.
Hot tip for maternity clothes, stock up on those leggings if your pregnant during the chilly months. I also mentioned everyone loves a pregnant gal so get some of those cute ruched, body hugging shirts. H&M has an adorable selection to choose from AND if you bring in old clothes that you’d typically donate to goodwill they’ll give you a 15% off coupon towards your purchase! That’s a pro tip I learned from my momma.
I believe this is all I can think of for now. Be sure to check out my self-care during pregnancy suggestions if you like my insights and I’ll be adding more as I travel through this new life as a first time parent and full-time weirdo. If you have any thoughts on your pregnancy experience share below!