When I had my first son, nearly (gulp!) five years ago, I was the first of my friends to have a child. In fact, I’d been married for only 5 months when I found out I was pregnant. I wasn’t necessarily a “young mom” at 25, but I was certainly younger than most of my peers when I became a mother. In short, I had no idea what to expect, and no friends or older siblings I could turn to for advice. I kind of always figured my friends and I would go through something big like starting out motherhood together, but sometimes, you have to take what life doles out, and for me, life doled out two little boys by the age of 28!
Now that my sons are almost five and two, my friends are having their babies, and I’m on the other side. Pregnancy was tough for me. I’ve known friends who have loved being pregnant and wax nostalgic about feeling their baby kick and loving their comfy maternity pants. I was not that mother. My kids didn’t give me cute jabs here and there to remind me they were there…my older son kicked into my ribcage so hard he knocked the breath out of me mid-sentence during a conversation with a co-worker. I had fierce heartburn, I was anxious about becoming a mother, and I hated the lack of control I had over pretty much everything that was happening.
So what would I say to my pregnant friends now that I’ve crossed over? Well…here it goes!
- Some moms can go through their whole pregnancy in size 4 Seven Jeans with one of those cute maternity belly bands. And some moms wear exclusively black stretch pants for the entire third trimester. Don’t stress if you’re in the second group.
- While we’re on the subject of stress…try not to stress. About everything. I literally googled how many milligrams of caffeine a pregnant woman could safely consume, then started frantically checking the amounts in various Starbucks beverages to see what the “safest drink options” would be. I worried about having highlights and didn’t color my hair for nine months during my first pregnancy. I worried a pedicure would send me into preterm labor, for Pete’s sake! Just try to relax a little. Seriously.
- Set up the nursery because it’s fun, not because “OMG the baby is coming and it must have a cute diaper stacker!!” If you like to decorate and feel like nesting, then by all means! Plan and decorate the most adorable room you can imagine. But if it doesn’t feel “real” to you yet and you just aren’t feeling it, remember that babies can sleep pretty much anywhere. You can by all means save it for after he or she arrives if that feels more natural to you.
- Read all baby care books with a wary eye. They may offer suggestions, but you have to do what feels right for you, in the end. Never feel obligated to do something because a book told you so. I did this, many times, and spent hours obsessing about things that I could have just let go.
- Do not buy a million diapers ahead of time if you are using disposable diapers. I bought lots and lots of a certain brand only to find out they ran really, really small and never fit my baby quite right. I’d opened them and neatly placed them in drawers, so I couldn’t return them, nor would I have had the energy to return diapers after giving birth. Buy a few different packs and order the good ones online to be shipped to your door.
- Never mind the baby…shop for yourself before the birth! I was up crazy hours for the first couple of months, and nursing made me ravenous around the clock. Instead of worrying about only the baby I should have stocked up on my own favorite healthy snacks and drinks.
- Don’t try to stuff yourself in your pre-pregnancy clothes right after you have the baby. Just don’t do it. Ask my husband, who found me sobbing in a pile of jeans two weeks after having my first child, about this for details. I laughed when people mentioned “transition wear.” I should have stopped laughing and bought some.
- Remember that this too shall pass. Not everyone likes pregnancy! And that is fine. You don’t have to. You still get the same prize at the end!