A better name for this post would be something like “What I really should know the second time around and am trying to remind myself of about how weird pregnancy is and how it’s really going to be okay.” It was weird the first time and it’s weird the second time. And I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoys it, despite all the barfing and elastic waisted pants and back pains and fits of anxiety after you accidentally consume a piece of feta cheese and not pooping for almost a year and general transformation into a big, dumb, sleepy, baby-making mammal.
People have a lot of things to tell you when you’re pregnant, and almost all these things can be safely ignored. People exclaim, “Guess you’re ready to pop!” when you’re only six months pregnant, forcing you to slap them silly before heading home to weep into your pillow. People shove food at you and explain that you’re “eating for two!” and these people should definitely be ignored, or maybe lectured sternly about how you only need 200 extra calories a day and they should be healthful ones and not pickles and ice cream and whatever ridiculous shit people think pregnant people should eat. Worst of all, idiotic people will tell you horror stories about their friends and relatives who have had pregnancy-related tragedies. These people too you are forced to slap silly before heading home for more pillow-weeping.
So while, yes, most people should be ignored, I do feel like maybe I’ve learned some things that are helping me this time. Or that should be helping me anyway.
1) For heaven’s sakes, ladies, stop worrying about the size of your belly. Everyone’s is different, and everyone thinks they are huge compared to everyone else’s. Some people naturally look like they have stuck adorable beach balls under their adorable little maternity shirts, and some people look like they’ve been stung all over by wasps. What can you do? Just try to eat healthy and enjoy the roundness, because it’s kind of fun to have a big round belly to rest your tea on and drop crumbs on (see photo).
(Kind of fun until of course you’re ten months pregnant and you’re like, “WTF, no one told me this actually lasts ten months!” and you’re super over it. And then, I know this annoying when you get never get comfortable and pee every 30 seconds and haven’t seen your feet in ages and just want the damn thing to be born, but I think it’s worth pointing out that really you are glad your baby is getting fully cooked in there. You want it to stay in there until the last possible minute. You really do.)
2) You don’t need to buy ¾ths of the stuff people say you do for the new baby. I remember looking at “Must Have” baby registry lists and panicking, when there was really no need. Maybe you have a ton of money and time and space and don’t care, in which case by all means buy a wipes warmer and a bouncer and a swing and eight strollers and a bunch of plastic crap to put in the crib to scream your baby to sleep. But for most people I think it helps to remember that babies are really small, and really, really what they need is a place to sleep (which probably won’t be the place you want it to be) and some milk and diapers and just a few tiny clothes and blankets and things. And a car seat. And a a pony and a 16th birthday-car-fund, obviously. Also, stores will still exist and be open after the baby is born. If you live in the city, you are probably a few blocks and/or a delivery order away from anything you may have forgotten. Here is a very basic baby-must-haves list I really like.
3) Be as much of a hippie as you can stand. Corny stuff non-pregnant-me would laugh out loud at can move me to tears during pregnancy. You’re just more open and emotional, and that’s fine. Drink some pregnancy tea and read Ina May and get back to thinking everything’s stupid later. Prenatal yoga has been great for me (although of course I haven’t gotten there as often this time around) – it’s a low-impact way to exercise that actually makes you feel better and not worse; you meet other pregnant ladies which can be a really crucial support system (I’m still friends with the moms I met in yoga, and we’ve known each others’ kids their whole lives, which is pretty cute); and you get to chant om and stuff to your baby. I know it sounds silly, and it is, but it’s also a wonderful way to concentrate on this little person and just enjoy the weird spooky bond you have. My yoga teacher always reminds us that we are the best possible parents for our babies. I eat this shit up. And I really do think that being as calm and optimistic as possible can only be good for growing babies. I mean, it couldn’t hurt, could it?
4) Prepare yourself for giving birth, but also remember that you can’t really prepare yourself for giving birth. Read about it, take a class, watch childbirth movies if you want (I didn’t. Too many fluids.), talk to mothers you know, do your kegels, practice your goofy-ass breathing and grunting from yoga. But in the end, it’s sort of like your wedding – it’s just one day (hopefully! Jesus!), the significance of which is what comes afterwards. I had a very idyllic experience with a natural childbirth and a baby who was completely healthy and started nursing right away. This was because I am a superior person.
What! No! I just got lucky, and I know this. It could very well go completely differently this time, and I’m trying to remember that the birth experience is just one teeny part of having a baby, and not to get too attached to my idea of how it should go, and really trying to focus more on this new little person rather than the nitty-gritty of labor which I was sort of obsessed with in my last pregnancy. As my midwife told me last time, “Having a birth plan is sort of like having a hurricane plan. You really don’t know how it’s going to go until it starts.”
Same goes for living with a baby.
Same goes for living with a toddler.
Same goes for life, actually, now that I think of it.