Today you are almost six weeks old. Your father and I are mesmerized by your cute little chub-monster face and your calm, brave behavior. We call you a lot of things…
… But our favorite is to call you our brave little soldier. As we look at you, we have realized how worthwhile all the aches and pains of pregnancy were. But, before I forget, there are some things about pregnancy that I want you to know.
I have experienced irrational sadness (thank you postpartum hormones) that I bore a daughter because I know that you will probably go through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, just like the vast majority of women. I don’t wish that pain on you, but, if you choose this exciting adventure, I want to be able to share advice with you as a new mother instead of as an expecting grandmother (oh, that sounds weird).
First of all, pregnancy sucks. I’m sorry. It really sucks. I’m excited for you on your journey, but I’m not going to lie to you and pretend like it’s a bed of roses or a cake walk. I hear lots of women, in person and online, describe pregnancy with words like beautiful, natural, fulfilling, wonderful, enjoyable. The pregnancy journey can be those things, for sure, but it can be a lot of other things, too, like confusing, frustrating, embarrassing, crippling. For me, pregnancy was above all worthwhile and exciting. Here are the biggest things I’ve learned during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the first month of motherhood.
Your body knows what it’s doing:
I hope CPS doesn’t get called, but I missed quite a few days (read: weeks) of prenatal vitamins. I ate a lot of ice cream. I didn’t (read: couldn’t) go to the doctor for over a month. I gained more weight than the doctor said I should. I ate gluten, sugar and dairy. And sometimes I ate fast food. Hey, I’m not perfect! But you know what? You were the most perfect, perfectly healthy baby. God designed our bodies to know what they’re doing. At my last prenatal check-up, I was horrified to learn that I’d gained sixty pounds! I had failed as a mother already, and you weren’t even born yet… The recommended weight gain was half that! But then you were born and you were huge. You started eating, and I’m pretty sure you’ve never stopped. I am shedding that weight so quickly, and it shows me something: I gained that weight so that I could feed you post-delivery. It was by design and I’m not ashamed of the number on the scale. (But I’m really proud of the number on YOUR scale. At your one month check up you were 10 lbs 11 oz. ❤ )
That’s another thing I learned during pregnancy: healthy body image. A number on a scale or on the tag of a pair of jeans does not define us. Your body is designed to look like a whale and your body is designed to return to normal, too. Enjoy the whale stage as much as is possible. There were some rough days where nothing fit and I was hormonally upset about dressing like a slob, but it doesn’t last forever. Listen, the “pregnancy glow” is a real thing and later you’ll realize that you’re beautiful all the time, especially when you’re pregnant. Even though you’ve got stretch marks and your face is, yes, quite rounder than it used to be, you’re carrying one of God’s little children and you look wonderful. Don’t worry about people judging you, because they’re probably not. I never would have made it through the weight gain if it hadn’t been for your father. He consistently told me I was beautiful, even more so when I felt like a whale. One day I started believing him. It was a great feeling. Don’t worry about your body (but go get some coconut oil now).
Use your support network:
God has put the people in your life that you need, whether it feels like it or not. If you need something, ask for it. If this means that you dropped something on the floor and you can’t reach it, and that day is coming, or if you’ve got too much on your plate and you need help. God’s people want to know and they want to help, or they aren’t God’s people. Spend time with other pregnant women because, if you have to feel like a whale, then at least you have a pod to swim around with.
Don’t listen to too many people:
Everyone and their dog and their kitchen sink want to give you “advice.” Avoid the fear-mongers. You’ll know them because they will be clad in long, dark robes announcing doom and gloom. These Dementors love the phrase “just wait.”
- Just wait until you can’t wear your shoes anymore
- Just wait till summer gets really hot
- Just wait till the contractions start
- Just wait until you’re not sleeping
- Just wait till the baby cries all the time
- Just wait till they start dating!
These people go through life waiting until they can enjoy the moment and their experience has nothing to do with you. They’re mostly well-meaning, I think, but they’re misguided. I was much more edified by people who said the opposite things.
- Try to enjoy this stage
- This is such an exciting journey you’ve started
- It goes by so fast, take as many pictures as you can
- It goes by so fast, love every minute
- Children are so wonderful
I’m no doctor, but I know your emotional health has an affect on your physical health. As much as you can, be happy. Laugh and don’t take things too seriously. My goal for labor and delivery was to remain calm and positive. Focusing on being positive for nine months helped me stay positive during the pain at the end. I surprised the nurses in the delivery room by cracking jokes between contractions, before and after the epidural. (They weren’t very funny, but they were jokes nonetheless.) Do whatever you have to during pregnancy to remain positive. This may mean that you DON’T read much about other people’s pregnancies or it may mean that you read everything you can. It certainly means that you should pray a lot. Oh, and talk to your mother. That’s me. (:
The most impactful thing I’ve been told so far is, “You make being a parent look fun.” I think, after you, very far after you, this is one of my greatest accomplishments of the first two months.
I love you very much, my sweet, sweet, little pumpkin.
P.S. Here are some little tips I wish someone had told me:
- As far as delivery is concerned, big babies are the same experience as little babies.
- As far as pregnancy is concerned, big babies take up way more room than little babies!
- Recovery lasts a long time. Get supplies for this beforehand. (Supplies includes snacks, nursing clothes, books, movies, and water bottles in addition to the medical things required.)
- Try to sleep and rest during labor as much as possible.
- I think you’re dying about thirty times a day and you haven’t gotten close even once.
- Nursing can be really hard, physically and mentally. Prepare beforehand.
- Nothing lasts forever; enjoy everything as much as you can.
- You will not sleep well in the hospital.
- Don’t let the nurses or doctors boss you around.
- Oh, and Mom knows best. (;