I'm just about 4 days overdue with my first baby on the way and looking back it's been both an amazing and challenging ride. To my surprise, many of the things I anticipated being hard didn't seem to phase me, while other parts (cue: hormones) definitely caught me by surprise.
A few things I learned along the way:
1. It's not as glamorous as I thought it will be. At least this was my experience. I'm sure there are others who have amazing pregnancies (and more power to them!) but that wasn't my story. The glowing, happy pregnant women I saw in my Instagram feed didn't prep me for the onslaught of hormones that would follow. Perhaps it's because I'm having a boy (??) but it felt like my testosterone levels flew off the charts. That hormone ramp up contributed to a handful of ridiculous moments... Did I get po'd about being overcharged for my smoothie by a teenager? Yep. Did I swear to never sit on our sofa again (the sofa I picked out, mind you) because it wasn't comfortable enough? Guilty. Did I cry for no reason? At least 3x a week. Thankfully I have a pretty darn patient and supportive husband who took these Napoleon outbursts with a grain of salt. BUT if you ever have moments of feeling crazy (and then extremely happy and teary-eyed over that Coldplay song ten minutes later), you're not alone!
2. Physically it wasn't too bad. This is something I know varies widely woman to woman, pregnancy to pregnancy. I'll call it luck, but this first time around has felt good. The worst side effects I encountered were hefty fatigue in the first few months, acid reflux almost all along (resulting in an inordinate amount of TUMS popping - this has been more annoying than I ever thought acid reflux could be), hip pain when sleeping, and in these final weeks, stiff and swollen hands. All manageable. Counting my lucky stars on this one, as I know it can be different with each baby.
3. I became an even bigger worry wart (well, at least temporarily). For those of you who know me, I have a tendency to worry. I'm proud to say I've gotten better at keeping my fears at bay, but at some points it felt like the inner faith I had worked hard to cultivate took a back seat to recurring feelings of anxiety. I think it's natural for any person about to bring a human into the world to worry a little, but man, there are so many things one can obsess over. Was that cheese pasteurized? Did I accidentally just eat raw bean sprouts? What do these test results mean? Was that essential oil I just rubbed all over my arm safe to use? My best advice is to get educated on these things but do what you can to "turn things over", as there is and will always be so much that is out of our control. These past 10 months have been a great reminder of that. In the end, things always work out; where there's life, there's hope.
4. Speaking of months, I also didn't know pregnancy is a 10 month shindig. Yep. It's 10 months. They lie to you.
5. Maternity clothes are not necessary. I take that back; some are useful. Go buy some jeans with the expanders on the side or the stretchy cotton top that goes over your belly. Those will save your life. The rest are nice to haves but frankly, you should be able to get by with almost everything else you already own.
6. It makes you think about your own parents. I haven't given birth yet and I'm already in awe of what my parents went through to provide the life they did for me. I wish I could thank them, just one more time, for their unconditional love and support. Going through this pregnancy without my them by my side hasn't been easy. Having lost my dad in high school and my mom in 2016, I wasn't prepared to relive old grief on such a heightened level. Pregnancy without them has made their loss more real and raw again, for better or worse. I wish could talk to them about their experience, ask questions, get their advice...go shopping for kids clothes with my mom. But I've also learned that bringing a life into presents a new gift - the gift of the 'village'. The support we've received from my in-laws, extended family, friends, mothers, fathers, and colleagues has meant the world. In sum, our parents are superheroes, and being pregnant has given me a different outlook on life - what really matters, what's bologna, and so much respect for those out there rasising families and lifting over families up.