10 Things No One Ever Told You About Pregnancy

When knowledge of my pregnancy spread, I quickly learned that people like to give you a lot of unsolicited advice. Some of this advice was helpful, but most of it was confusing or anxiety provoking. I seemed to hear contrary advice about pregnancy, labor and birth, and even judgement about my birth plan and breast feeding decisions. Even strangers even gave me advice.

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We All Have Our Birth Stories

securedownload-5 It was Thursday July 31st, 2014 at 5:00am I woke up feeling a tightening in my abdomen.  This wasn't an unusual feeling for me, in fact I had been experiencing such feelings increasingly for about two weeks, so I wasn't getting my hopes up.  See, I was nearly 42 weeks pregnant waiting patiently (anxiously) to go into labor.  Just a few months earlier I was graduating from college, but even then my mind was on the arrival of my son.  A few hours later I went to the doctors office (for the third time that week) only to find out that I was scheduled to have my labor induced the following Monday.  Frankly, I was feeling discouraged and depressed.  I felt like my baby would never arrive on his own. I was 12 days overdue and had exhausted all the tricks and old wise tales of how to jump start your labor - I took walks every day, I ate plenty of spicy food, and I drank rose hips tea (to name a few).  James even drove me around in my manual transmission car (and trust me, he made sure it was a bumpy ride).  Nothing seemed to make our little Jamesie want to leave his safe home inside my womb.  But on July 31st, 2014 at 5:00am I wasn't experiencing what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, I was feeling the beginnings of early labor.

When I was finally willing to admit that I was actually in labor (at about 3pm that afternoon), I was not nervous, but excited! And incredibly relieved. Twelve days can feel like an eternity for a pregnant woman in her 9th month.  Mostly I was so relieved because I was (still am) immensely afraid of induced labor.  I feared that if I was induced it would lead to an emergency c-section, which is something I REALLY did not want to happen (I mean really, I'm gonna do all that I can to avoid major surgery).  I was also following a natural childbirth plan, which is something I just don't think I would have been able to achieve had I received pitocin to begin my contractions.

All these fears were for naught, because my little man decided to come on his own after all.  James and I left for the hospital at about 2am, and Jamesie was born several hours later at 9:34am on August 1st.  Even before I became pregnant, I knew that when I did have children, I wanted to at least try to do it without any medication - not to prove anything to myself or to anyone else - but because it was the best option for me and for my baby.  I'm also kind of a thrill junky, and I thought what greater adventure is there than feeling the birth of your own child?  Although there was of course intense pain, there was also this powerful euphoria that I can't describe in any other way than a "state of holiness."  That feeling... now that was an experience.

IMG_1264This was taken seconds after Jamesie was born. So many emotions overwhelmed me - happiness, relief, excitement, nervousness...

IMG_1646Father and Son sharing a moment a short time after delivery.

However, I do not think that natural childbirth is for everyone, and there are certainly circumstances where the safest option for both mother and child is to receive pain medication or surgery.  If you're young and fit and up for a challenge, I encourage you other mothers-to-be out there to at least try labor without medication and see how it goes.  I'll give you a hint: when you feel like you just can't take the pain any longer and something needs to change because you just can't bear it for one moment longer - that is when the baby will be born, and you'll be so overwhelmed with happiness and relief that nothing else will matter.

I'm sure you other mamas out there would agree that when you are pregnant you should not put pressure on yourself to perform a certain way or be a certain way, because pregnancy (much like parenting) is a surrender of self.  You quite literally give life to another; you hand over all control and let nature run its course.  Childbirth is similar to pregnancy in that you have no control... you have to just listen to yourself and trust your body - this is what it was made for after all.

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securedownload-2My favorite part of this newborn phase is the way your baby just curls up against you and falls asleep.  I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again - there is no better feeling in the world. This is worth the struggle.

If you think natural childbirth is the right option for you, I hope I have emboldened you on your journey.  If it is not the right option, then I still wish you safety and success in bringing your child to this world.  The truth is that we all have our birth stories, and they are wonderfully unique in their own way.  The big day is a life changing experience no matter how you give birth, so enjoy it!  Jamesie will turn six months on Sunday, and I already can't believe where the time has gone.  He has changed and grown so much since those first days in the hospital and as much as I want to see the changes of his next six months, I can't help but long for the newborn phase.  Good luck to all you pregnant mama's out there! I'd love to hear your birth stories too!

The Mommas Club

Before I discovered I was pregnant I asked God to give me a sign and guide me down the right path in life - and man, did He deliver.  Like many other college seniors, I was lost.  I was restless, a little reckless, and lacking in any genuine direction.  I was happy but only in a superficial way.  In November of my final year of college I found out that I was going to have a child.  That year was bar none the most difficult year of my life - physically, mentally and emotionally - and I would do it all again in a heartbeat if it meant I would still be where I am today. My saving grace this past year was without a doubt my boyfriend and the father of my child, James.  He picked me up when I was letting the gossip get me down, he made me feel pretty whenever I just felt fat, and he gave me his unfailing commitment to stand by me and our child.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have him in my life.  We are now living with our son and my parents at their house in New Jersey.  The experience of pregnancy and birth has bonded us in a way that I had never previously imagined it would.  We will always share the intensity of that amazing experience.  Somewhere between the morning sickness, first kicks, late night cravings, and doctors visits, we fell in love.  He is truly my family and not only do I still count on him, but he counts on me.  We accepted this challenge together and have both come out the better for it.

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As far as life changing circumstances go, an unexpected pregnancy is a pretty sweet deal.  I mean sure you have to go through actually being pregnant, which is "eh" at times and the most amazing feeling in the world at others; and then you have to actually give birth, which is nothing short of a miracle but also ouch; but then you get to hang out with this precious little human being who you instantly love with all your heart.  I will stand by this for an eternity - there is no greater feeling in the universe than having your newborn baby fall asleep on your chest, all curled up like a little snail.

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I can laugh now and lightheartedly talk about the experience of being pregnant in college, and becoming a mother at the age of 21, but the course has surely been long.  Motherhood changes you, and giving birth is like a mothers right of passage.  It is what makes us mothers.  Many things feel different after you welcome a baby to the world, but the two things that stick out most in my mind are pain and happiness. After giving birth, and quite literally pushing a human being out of your body, pain takes on a whole new meaning.  Never underestimate the stamina and pain tolerance of a mamma.  The pain is totally worth it though, because of the happiness that comes after.  It's like I didn't know what it meant to truly be happy (and trust me I've had a lot of fun in my life).  I am happier now than I have ever been in my entire life, and I owe that all to my son.

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There are so many positive attributes I have come to embody since I had a child: selflessness, strength, courage, grit, etc. Then there are also the negatives... Worrying all of the time, being constantly stressed out, trying to control every single situation, etc. These things, among others unite mothers.  There is an unspoken language that exists among us, as well as a deep understanding of what actually matters in life.  My son has made me a better person - he has made me more loving, more self-sacrificing, less materialistic, and a whole lot happier. I am forever grateful to have joined this club called motherhood and at such a young age. Do any of you other mammas out there have similar experiences of personal transformation after you had children?