A stream-of-consciousness momologue on the peaks and pitfalls of pregnancy…
I accidentally got pregnant last year. And by accidentally I mean I got married, pulled the goalie and then was shocked when sex actually work and did what it was intended to do. Myth #1: it takes a while to get pregnant if you’ve been on birth control for a long time. Truth: you are most fertile after quitting contraception. At least, this was the case for me. So there I am, pregnant – right in line with my childhood schedule of having kids at 28. Man 28 seems old when you’re young and young when you’re older. As a newly married, unplanned pregnant woman, I have learned a lot from my experience and from polling others who have been in a similar boat (women and children only!) <-that’s a Titantic reference for all you Gen Z folks.
In an attempt to aid my fellow Millennial future and current mamas, I wrote up a little soliloquy to solidify my thoughts and recommendations for how to approach maternity. Just remember, preggers can be choosers and there is a lot of bull behind the bump. Oh, and please excuse any typos or punctuation errors – pregnancy brain is a real thing, my friends. Here we go…
My top tips to a perfectly imperfect pregnancy:
Outsource as much of your life as you can! I am one of those women who has a superhero complex. Every morning I put on my imaginary cape ready to take on the day and accomplish everything I set out to achieve, whether that be a 64 part to-do list, a personal quest to make a new friend or be a better wife, or some sort of irrational workout goal that may or may not kill me. I try to do it all and I rarely ask for help. This is not a healthy trait. Sure, some days I am able to be “successful” in my mind but these are the days where my physical and mental battery life finishes in the red. My idea of “success” is packing as much into a day as I can. It is complete quantity over quality (although to add to my neuroses I am also a perfectionist so I aim to do everything without fault) and is just not a sustainable practice for anyone, let alone someone who is trying to grow another human in their body. Thus, I have learned the art of outsourcing. Outsourcing, to me, means asking for help, accepting help that is offered, and then straight up paying people to do things for you. I am lucky enough to have some disposable income to use towards this newfound method but, really, you don’t need much to make your life easier. For example, I have a housekeeper who comes once a month to clean our place for $100. That’s the equivalent of 16 oat milk lattes, which I would happily forfeit for the pure joy of coming home to a spotless abode. Done. A new outsourcing tool I will be abusing: task rabbit. I recently hired a man to come to my home to put together our crib, which required 46 nondescript instructions, various tools, a Youtube video, and a shaman to aid in the building. And while I had visions of grandeur of my husband and I lovingly tightening each screw with a single wrench, together, I knew the reality was that putting together this crib would be a royal nightmare that would most likely result in divorce and/or murder. Not worth it. It cost me $37 to pay someone to put together that crib and it was money well spent. That’s $37 towards my own personal sanity – therapy is much more expensive. Perhaps one of my more splurge-worthy outsources was signing up for Plated. Well, let’s be fair, I asked for Plated for Christmas from my parents so I don’t actually pay for it but we get 3 nights of dinners delivered every Monday including exact ingredients and instructions. Our Plated subscription costs around $70 a week (or $11.95 per serving if you want to get technical). That is way less than we would spend on meals out or groceries, most of which end up in the trash because I shop like I am a member of the Duggar family. So, for us, it is worth the spend – and is actually a save (in more ways than one).
Don’t read everything! This means Googling, pregnancy app community boards, social media, or online chat rooms – however you ingest information, ingest less or ingest at your own risk. Pregnancy is terrifying. From the moment that stick you peed on proudly pronounces a positive, you begin worrying. There is a brief moment of emotion (whether it be elation, fear, nervousness, surprise) that is quickly usurped by a visceral need to gather as much information as possible about this foreign body invading your insides. Proceed. With. Caution. There is a lot of information out there, some of it is accurate, some of it is incorrect but the vast majority of it is a gray-area that relies on the circumstance, the person, and about a million other internal and external factors. You can really search yourself into a deep dark cyber abyss if you so choose. Avoid this, for your own sanity (see note above about how expensive going insane can be). Everyone’s pregnancy is different. Like a snowflake, no two are the same. Your OB will be your most trustworthy source of information but, even then, take anything he or she says with a grain of salt. Unless, of course, he or she is stating the obvious like don’t do drugs or maybe right now isn’t the best time to go sky diving. This is a time when intuition and gut instinct should be utilized. You know what is best for your body. You do. Just listen to it. Another thing that drives me up the damn wall: the weight gain debate. The #1 most asked question on my ‘What to Expect” apps community board is how much everyone has gained. It has become a comparison game where people flaunt their lack of pounds like a goddamn badge of honor. Do not get sucked into this. First of all, the internet is a place where people lie. People lie in real life too but it is much easier to lie from behind a computer screen in the safety of your own home. Secondly, for every person bragging about only gaining a single pound, there are hundreds who have gained 10, 20, or more. If you just eat when you’re hungry and don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to give into every craving you have ever denied yourself, you will be ok. Just like in reality, people gain and lose differently. There is no prize for the person who gained the least amount of weight during pregnancy. And really, have you ever seen a cute skinny baby? No. Chubby babies are where it’s at – so feed that child!
You don’t have to like your pregnancy (or your pregnant body)! There is a strange societal pressure around feeling like you have to love being pregnant and your ever-changing orb-like lava lamp of a body. Much like a bride, you are supposed to just be tickled and perpetually blushing by the thought of completing the circle of life. First of all, the glow everyone talks about? It’s bullshit. At least it has been for me. I actually started wearing an obscene amount of highlighter to trick people into complimenting my man-made pregnancy glow. My glow manifested itself as 1sttrimester acne, so there’s that. I have been lucky to have had a relatively ‘easy’ pregnancy so far (this is the point where women who have had hard pregnancies are audibly booing from behind their browsers). Who knows how the remaining few weeks will pan out but I have, for all intents and purposes, had a pretty ideal 7+ months of maternity with only a few months to go (another lie: pregnancy is 40 weeks so, like, 10 months). And even I, living the pregnant dream, have discovered some hidden truths about this time. Like the running commentary on your body. I don’t mind it because I know it typically stems from a place of pure wonder (“oh, look how big you are!”) but it gets old…quick. It’s just a conversation I would rather not have. As a woman in society today, I already feel like my body is under a microscope, every flaw magnified and dissected. I already have my own internal running monologue scrutinizing my figure, I would rather not share such sentiments out loud. I will say, though, being pregnant has strangely allowed me to forfeit any expectations I have for my body and just let go and let bod. See what I did there? It took 15 lbs, 2 cup sizes, and feet that are a ½ size bigger to love my body. Weird, right? I am more comfortable in my 7 month pregnant figure than I was in my wedding-ready frame. I’m not sure if it’s because my expectation of what I think my body should look like is being flexed or that society gives pregnant women a hallpass so the pressure somewhat subsides for 9 (alright fine, 10) months – it’s probably a combination of the two. I have a whole new appreciation for the female form after watching it build a baby from scratch. I could write a whole diatribe on loving my body but I’ll spare you. The bottom line is...pump & dump your expectations for your pregnancy and your pregnant body.
Your social life will change, as will your friendships! This was the most unforeseen side effect of getting knocked up for me. Yes, everyone is happy for you or at least pretends to be. And yes, some who have been pregnant themselves or have had someone close to them experience pregnancy understand but, for the most part, some of your friends will throw you on injured reserve after they find out you’ve fallen ill with a child. I’ve noticed that, throughout my pregnancy, some of my friendships have been strengthened and some have fallen through the cracks. You no longer have the fallback of alcohol to forge a friendship and the ‘going out friends’ are the first to go. After they phase out, the friends who don’t really understand or support your choice to be pregnant fizzle as well. As you swap parties for prenatals and martinis for morning sickness, you’ll notice that some friendships just fall by the wayside. Pregnancy can be oddly isolating at times. Yes, those friends who fall out of touch will resurface in time for your baby shower and maybe send a text or two to see ‘how things are going’ but they don’t really know, or, for that matter, care. Your life is changed, forever. That sounds so finite and daunting but it’s really a beautiful thing. You have true purpose now. Your priorities change. Things are really put into perspective and it is something that your friends will never fully understand until they go through it themselves. It is hard not to get bitter or angry, or to feel like all of these friendships had a flawed foundation or why else would they fail at such a crucial time? But it is important to not let this pent up frustration towards friends get you down. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to really audit your friendships. Who stepped up? Who stepped out? Who saw your pregnancy as an opportunity to grow together (quite literally)? And who is an opportunist that let your pregnancy be the reason you grew apart? You know, it’s all sexy and fun when you can go out, get drunk, take 100 ‘cheers’ boomerangs and laugh about it the next day. It not as sexy and fun when you’re trying to squeeze into your fat pants, can’t keep anything down, and have trouble staying awake after 5. That being said, pregnancy isn’t the end of the good times. Since finding out I was pregnant, I have taken 7 trips, attended 4 weddings, made it through a holiday season, closed down countless parties, even got on board for a best friend’s bachelorette – and (plot twist) I have had a blast. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good buzz but have learned that fun is a mind over matter mentality (and a mocktail is nothing to mock). When I first got pregnant, my catchphrase became ‘I promise not to suck’ – an eloquent slogan that I have used throughout the last 28 weeks. And, gosh darn it, I’ve kept my promise. Yes, there have been nights when I prioritized my REM cycle over running around with the rat pack but I also did not let myself slide down the slippery slope of just putting my life on hold until I give birth. If I truly was tired, I took a break or called it a night. But I made sure not to confuse tiredness or listening to what my body needed with laziness. It’s easier to just say no sometimes, especially when you have the ultimate excuse of being pregnant. Pregnancy is the trump card. You can get out of just about anything with a quick reference to your ever-expanding bump. But it’s equally as important to maintain some semblance of a social life – which includes making time for you and your significant other because god only knows how your dynamic will change after baby arrives. Pregnancy doesn’t have to resemble house arrest. It can be a beautiful, fun experience if you take the good, the bad, and the ugly in stride and remember that, at the end of the day, you are quite literally completing life’s reproductive purpose and creating a human. That is pretty fucking cool if you ask me.
Hey, listen, at the end of the day don’t let anyone (not me, not the internet, not your newly certified doula friend) tell you how to treat your pregnancy. You can love it, hate it, incubate it (had to, couldn’t pass up the rhyming opportunity) – just know that the opinions expressed above are my own and from my personal experience. I also am very sensitive to the fact that some people have difficulty conceiving and some cannot have children at all so I feel incredibly fortunate to even have this experience to write about. I have such an appreciation for the entire conception process from start to finish and am lucky to have had a mostly problem-free pregnancy, something a lot of mothers have not had. To those mothers, I tip my hat to you – you are the real heroes.
Sent from my iPhone*
Please excuse any typos