What to really expect when you’re expecting
I realized I never wrote about the little surprises that I encountered during my pregnancy, so I started jotting some of them down a week or so ago. I felt like I knew a lot about pregnancy and “what to expect when you’re expecting”, but there were still plenty of things that surprised me. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, and I was lucky to have a healthy and happy pregnancy overall, but certain things were still a little unexpected.
Morning sickness is the worst coined term about pregnancy. Some people have it ALL day (lucky me), some people only have it in the evening. Some don’t have it at all. Anything goes. Just hope it goes away after the first trimester, because it may not. I was lucky enough to have it end around 15 weeks.
Ob-gyn exam rooms aren’t really set up for “guests”. Lo went with me to every appointment, and the extra chair was always near the bottom of the exam table. Yeah, he’s seen it all before, but it not like he wants to see what the Dr. is doing up in there, so he’d just stare at the wall I guess.
Peeing in a cup SUCKS. I had no idea you had to do it every appointment. I thought it was like – ok, you’re pregnant, and that was it with the pee. But they are constantly monitoring your protein and sugar levels with pee. And it gets harder to pee in a cup the bigger your belly gets. (tip: wide stance)
You are smarter than 80% of people on the BabyCenter/What to Expect monthly boards. You can join message boards with moms who are due in the same month – and some of that is helpful because you can see others are experiencing the same things that you are as you go through your pregnancy. You’ll end up feeling like you are smarter and/or more well-prepared than 80% of them, and the other 20% are on their 2nd or 3rd pregnancies.
That being said, reading those boards will make you feel good about yourself. While in our 4th or 5th month, someone posted that they were having trouble wiping their ass because of their belly. What?! I still can’t figure that out. Maybe she’s a front wiper (which is bad…). Another lady posted that she gets too tired standing in the shower so she put a chair in the shower so she could sit while she washed (and others agreed!). This was at 4 or 5 months! When I read this, I had just returned from the gym where I’d done a super hard work out that included 100+ squats and 25 burpees, so I felt pretty good about myself.
Speaking of such, you CAN do your normal workouts through most of your pregnancy (with Dr. permission). You’ll get out of breath easier (it’s a hormone thing, so it doesn’t matter if you are in your first trimester or your last), and towards the end you’ll have to scale your workout quite a bit and some moves will just be impossible and/or not safe, but in general, pregnancy isn’t an excuse to totally stop working out, unless you truly feel terrible through your whole pregnancy. Even when I was having all-day nausea, if I had the energy to go to the gym, I actually didn’t feel nauseous when working out.
If you don’t exercise regularly anyway, I’d encourage you do some during your pregnancy (with your Dr. permission, of course)– walking, yoga, light weights/bodyweight workouts…anything. I had a pretty easy pregnancy and a fairly short/easy delivery (compared to the 8 deliveries that my sisters had, and many first-time moms). I can’t attribute this to working out, but I have to assume it helped. I continued with advanced yoga through my 8th month (substituting unsafe moves), and I feel like that made the most difference. I could hold a plank longer than I can now – and my belly was almost touching the floor.
Cravings can be fickle. One night I wanted Easter candy so bad, so we went to Meijer at 9 p.m. on a Saturday to get some. I bought a bunch of bags, and by the time we got home, I couldn’t bear the thought of eating any and shoved it all in the bottom of the pantry. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I found a few bags from that Easter (2 Easters ago) in the pantry this week. Another time I wanted everything mango, so I went to Trader Joes and bought everything that they sold with the word “mango” in it, which was a surprising amount of items. I ended up not wanting any of that stuff.
Some food aversions stay that way after pregnancy. When I first found out I was pregnant and started to get nauseous, Loren made this super-flavorful red quinoa and chorizo dish. I forced my way through half of it, and then realized that although I could tell that it tasted good, it actually was making me feel sick. I couldn’t think of red quinoa or chorizo the rest of my pregnancy, and am just barely able to occasionally have red quinoa now (jury is still out on chorizo).
Turns out, if you have a chronic bitchface, less people will try to touch your stomach. But people still do. I didn’t care once it was REALLY out there, but people would just reach out to grope me as soon as they found out I was pregnant and wasn’t even showing at like 3 or 4 months, so they were just touching my fat rolls. And that’s awkward. I wanted to be like, um, the baby is barely above my pubic bone yet, do you want to touch me there? Didn’t think so.
The baby will respond to certain foods once you can feel him moving around in there. Sometimes I’d put fruity pebbles on my yogurt and berry breakfasts, and he’d get super-active right away. SUGAR!
Your eyes will often be bigger than your stomach. Once the baby is taking up space in there, your stomach will fill up pretty quickly. I remember one time not being able to eat the last cauliflower floret on my plate. I asked Lo to eat it and he was like, “really, you can’t eat just one more?” Nope. I could only eat 3/4 of a corn tortilla quesadilla, and they are only 6 inches. When the baby is in there, there isn’t any room for your stomach to stretch “just a little” without being miserable.
The dreaded glucose test (around 28 weeks). It’s scary because not only did I not want to sit for a 4 hour test if I failed the first one, I didn’t want to have to avoid sugar or give myself injections if I failed the second test too. I did lots of research of what to do before the test, but don’t consider this medical advice. I avoided eating much sugar for the couple weeks before the test (which was okay, because my sugar craze didn’t happen until after the test, and moreso after delivery. My test was around 11 a.m. or so, and for breakfast the morning of the test, I had an omelet (lots or protein, little carbs) instead of fasting which some people said to do. I figured fasting would spike my sugar, so having some protein would help slow the absorption. I passed the test with no problem, and I can’t say whether the no sweets and protein breakfast helped, but it definitely didn’t hurt.
Weird things will annoy you. I hated when people said I was nesting. I was just organizing and getting his room ready – not scrubbing the baseboards or anything. You HAVE to get the nursery ready and sort bins of clothing when you’re having a baby. I still don’t know why the term “nesting” bothers me – it’s not an insult.
You’ll get annoyed when people comment on your belly size, no matter which way they say. In the same day, people would tell me “your belly is huge” and “you’re barely showing”. Which one is it, a-holes? How about just say “you look great!”. And don’t act shocked when I tell you when I’m due. One lady told me I looked ready to pop, and I was still wearing my normal non-maternity work shirts and had only put on about 5 pounds – I was like 4 or 5 months pregnant. I just looked at her and said “really?”. She was kind of a “special” person, so I didn’t get too irritated because she always said dumb things, but still.
People will also comment on your weight, as if that is appropriate. I kept my weight pretty well in check through my pregnancy, but still thought it was bizarre when people pointed out that I was “doing well at keeping my weight down”. Um, what if I gained 20 pounds in the next 2 weeks? Are you going to tell me that I’m now failing at keeping my weight down? Again, “you look great!” will suffice – or even “you’re all belly” – even if it’s a lie. Even if your weight gain is in check, you’re still going to be up 20-35 pounds and don’t necessarily want attention drawn to it. (this doesn’t apply to close friends and family members – I didn’t care if they said anything. It’s the acquaintances that shouldn’t mention things like this).
It’s a little awkward when you’re in between showing and not showing. You just look chubby and strangers aren’t quite sure if you’re pregnant or not. When getting dressed, you have to decide if you’re going to try to hide it (and possibly fail), or try to emphasize it (and possibly fail). But when you’re belly is all out there, you’ll probably feel a lot more confident, and even though you may think you look like a big whale, you should be proud to show it off.
The third trimester will start to get a little rough again. It’ll be hard to get up off the floor, you’ll have more aches and pains, and you’ll be more tired again. You’ll have to pee constantly, and your stomach will be so crowded that you won’t be able to eat normal size meals. If you’re tempted to start any major projects in this trimester, don’t. You missed your second trimester window, so whatever it is that you think you need to do/make, too bad. You can still do it of course, but you’ll probably regret it, like I did with the glider. (it would have been fine as maple colored versus white).
People talk about how magical it is to feel the baby moving – it IS. And it’s very reassuring that everything is okay. So you’ll feel bad about getting annoyed about it sometimes. And around 8-9 month – shit gets weird in there. It’s no longer little flutters or even hard jabs…it’s full baby rolling motion that you can see and feel. In the last month, he’d move all over anytime we stopped at a red light. It got to the point that we’d both look at my belly whenever we stopped, just to watch him.
The strep B test isn’t a big deal. I had people tell me, and also read that it was more, um, invasive than it really was. I almost wouldn’t have known she did it if she wasn’t giving me the play by play – I would have just thought she brushed the wrong area accidentally. Besides, within a few weeks, Dr.’s and nurses will be all up in your business anyway, once you’re in labor.
Family history doesn’t mean as much as you think it may. Three of my sisters had 7 kids…all of them were overdue (though one had her water break once, I think) and all of the babies were over 8 lbs. So I was like – ok…I’m going to be induced and have a big baby (Lo and I were both over 8 lbs too). My Dr. seemed to think I’d need to be induced, and just days before I had him, she decided she wanted to do an extra ultrasound at the next appointment and probably induce me shortly after my due date because he was “huge”. She never told us what to do if my water broke. I even had a date scheduled for an induction. So when my water broke, he was born 9 days early, and was only 7 ½ lbs, it was kind of shocking. All of those things made labor easier – but I wasn’t expecting it.
Therefore….pack your hospital bag, watch your birthing video, or anything else that you “keep meaning to do”, as early as possible. While I had a list made for my hospital bag, I only had it half packed (some stuff I was still using), and we were planning finish our bags and to watch the birthing video/course the next day. So when my water broke at 2:30 a.m., we were scrambling around trying to pack our bags. That is, after googling to see what to do after your water breaks (answer: call the dr.). I wasn’t having contractions yet that I could tell, so I didn’t know if we were supposed to go to the hospital yet. (You are).
If your water does break, contractions can come on pretty suddenly. After mine broke, I had contractions 15-20 minutes apart. Within an hour, they were 2-3 minutes apart, and within another hour, they were 1-2 minutes for the duration.
You may not be ready to have the baby towards the end, but you’ll be ready to not be pregnant, and hopefully you’ll have your house ready “enough”. Babies need somewhere to sleep, something to eat (whether breast or formula), something to wear (you could totally get by with onesies and sleepers, though I’d recommend a Halo swaddle sack too), and love. That’s it. And that’s the best part. The love.
I know a lot of these “points” sound negative, but they are just the things I didn’t know to expect. Truthfully though, I didn’t hate being pregnant, and I really thought I would. It was an incredible experience, and I’d have to say that I actually kind of liked most of it. And since we’re to that point where everyone is asking if we are ready for another, I can tell you that we know that we would like to try for another, just not quite yet.