1. There are a lot of rules, and it’s okay to break them (sometimes).
I was overwhelmed with all the dos and don’ts. No soft cheeses, no deli meat, no undercooked food, no shark (who eats shark?), no wine. It’s a lot of nos. At first, I was a stickler for the rules. But eventually, I learned it’s okay to cheat a little bit. When a small headache turns into a migraine because of caffeine withdrawals, a sip of Dr. Pepper shouldn’t be followed by guilt. Or when my heartburn feels like the end of days is near, a few Tums are okay. There’s a balance here, and finding it is key.
2. Google is your worst enemy.
Anxiety during pregnancy is a real issue that many women experience. When I get anxious about something (was that pain in my side normal, should I be sleeping more, is my heart rate too high?), I immediately hit up my old pal Google for advice. This is so dangerous. When you search the internet, you find horror stories. People are far more prone to share what went wrong than they are about their perfect pregnancy and child birth. At the end of a search, I always found myself traumatized and paranoid. Eventually, I realized Google had to go.
3. There are cribs, bassinets, pack ‘n plays, co-sleepers, and Moses baskets.
And everyone wants to tell you what to buy. I had no idea how many baby items are out there. People have been having babies for thousands of years without the internet or social groups to dictate what they register for at Target. Ask for advice, but do your own research and pick what you want.
4. It’s possible to love someone you’ve never met.
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. But I never knew just how much I wanted this baby until now. I’m a loving person who tends to wear my heart on my sleeve. Still, I’ve never experienced this level of love. I haven’t even met the boy I’m carrying, yet I’d already do anything for him. I mean, I haven’t had a glass of wine in nearly a year. That’s a kind of love I never knew I possessed.
5. Everyone has an opinion, and it isn’t always right.
Around every corner, someone is prepared to tell you what is normal or abnormal about your pregnancy even though they’re not doctors. I continuously hear that I don’t look pregnant or that I must be growing too slowly. This is confusing because I’m huge. I can’t see my feet and I walk like an injured penguin. The worst is when you find yourself eating Pop-Tarts and curly fries at the same time and someone comes up to you and says, “I just heard the good news! I didn’t even know you were pregnant.” Uh, you didn’t? You think I always eat like this and have a disproportionately gigantic stomach? Great. The same goes for your name choice. I’ve named dogs, birds, and stuffed animals before. Easy. But, a person? That’s a lot of pressure, especially when other people weigh in on it. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what others say about your name (or any other) choice. It’s your child, not theirs.
6. Everything hurts, and my husband could tell you all about it.
Suddenly, modesty is out the window. Before getting pregnant, I didn’t know about all the little details. I’d heard that your feet swell, your back hurts, and you gain weight. But, I didn’t know just how much everything would ache. Round ligament pain – who talks about that during casual conversation? My husband has become the sounding board for every little thing I experience. I share all the TMI-worthy stuff with him, whether he likes it or not.
7. There will be tears. Lots of them.
I always assumed that the sobbing, waddling, rage-filled pregnant women portrayed by Hollywood were exaggerations simply aimed at being funny. I was wrong. I waddle thanks to back and hip pain. I go into monster-like rage fits against my husband for the silliest of things. Like the time he misplaced his keys and I unleashed my hormones on him as if he had just done the unspeakable. And the tears… I cry at everything – music, images of puppies, an empty refrigerator. When I found myself crying at an insurance ad on television, I knew it was going to be a long road ahead.
8. All of a sudden, people care.
Sure, people cared about me before I became the vessel for a human life. But now, they open doors for me, yell at me if I skip breakfast, and forbid me from lifting anything weighing more than two pounds. Honestly, it’s a nice perk. I just hope they remember me when the baby comes along.