My niece is pregnant with her first baby at the same time as I am pregnant with my fourth. How fun is that?! This is my third pregnancy, and I still feel completely surprised sometimes at the things that are happening to my body because every pregnancy is truly different. But, although I probably tell my niece too much, she still feels blind-sided by some things that are happening along the way.
She asked me to make a list of the things that can happen during pregnancy that nobody talks about. This list is for you, Sarah.
Your body will change during pregnancy – this may seem obvious, but you cannot fathom the changes until they start happening. One day the darkest caverns of your belly button will suddenly be hitting daylight. Your skin will itch and stretch and pull. You will think your pants are trying to kill you. You may have to buy bigger underwear. You won’t be able to park in tight spots because after one embarrassing struggle to wedge yourself out of your car you won’t even attempt it again.
You may encounter weird stuff while pregnant. Peeing your pants at work when your baby kicks your bladder, being out of breath after one flight of stairs, or having heartburn so bad you throw up – is nothing compared to what some women go through. From my friend circle alone, there is also passing out, throwing up the entire pregnancy, varicose veins in your crotch, hemorrhoids the size of an apple, sciatic nerve issues, a furry belly, and the list goes on. And somehow, it’s all considered “normal.” Welcome to your new normal, where nothing feels normal. Others see you “glow” and smile with the thought of new life forming inside you, but meanwhile atrocious things may be occurring downstairs.
Your breasts will change…like 8 times. If you plan to breastfeed, you should have no less than 4 sets of bras. One for pregnant boobs, one for breastfeeding boobs, one for post-breastfeeding boobs, and one for the hope that those post-breastfeeding boobs come back to life someday.
Get Ready for Unsolicited Advice. You will hear the weirdest advice from people, often complete strangers. Whether you are pregnant or pushing a newborn around a store, people can’t help but touch you and your baby, and tell you crazy stories about pregnancy or newborns, and things that you definitely should or definitely shouldn’t be doing. Practice your “oh that’s nice” face and keep moving.
Labor and Delivery is…unpredictable. There is no other way to describe this because every single person’s labor and delivery is different. It is terrifying, but at that point you know there is one way out of pregnancy, and you somehow manage to get through it and either not talk about it for a long time, summarize it with a word like “ummm,” or just sugarcoat it. Your body may rebel in ways that no one has described to you yet. You may throw up. You may swear profusely because your filter will be GONE at this point. Maybe your epidural will work; maybe it won’t. Maybe you won’t have time for one or choose not to have one. Maybe you’ll end up with a c-section. Don’t make a birth plan that is set in stone because your labor and delivery will not go according to every detail in that plan – guaranteed.
The hormones are real. During pregnancy you may experience some moments where your hormones surge. I cried over getting a cold breakfast sandwich at a restaurant this week. Sobbed. A few weeks ago I threw a pizza across the kitchen and had to put myself in time out – because it was stuck to the pan. I also cried over a Disney movie the kids were watching. After my twins were born I had a slight panic attack and thought I was going to legitimately run away. Normally all of this would be out of character for me. In pregnancy, and post-delivery, it’s all somehow normal. TALK ABOUT IT with loved ones so that they can monitor you for any serious hormone imbalances. Don’t hold it in, even if your thoughts seem crazy.
You’ve never loved like this. When you deliver your baby, you’ll be hit like a ton of bricks with this flood of unconditional love. There is NOTHING like this in the world. You will never be the same. Regardless of what recovery looks like, and how your hormones change, and how much of your hair suddenly falls out (yup, heads up – that often happens too a few months after birth), you will fall in love like never before. This love will change you. This love will change your life. And it will make everything listed above – TOTALLY worth it.
Welcome to the club mama.