My blog buddy and fellow Four Corners writer, the wonderful JKB, has just announced her pregnancy!
When I was pregnant for the first time, I felt pretty darn smart. Here I was, little me, all busy growing an entirely new human, right there inside me! Of course, this was a few weeks after I got over the shock and accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be riding a horse for a few months, might never look the same again, and would always, forever, the rest of my life, be somebody’s mother.
I’ve done it twice, and learned a few things each time. I know we MOTHERS like to spew advice at every occasion, but it’s not just to show off, honest! It’s because we wish we’d heard it, or because it was such good advice it has to be passed on.
Here’s the best advice I can think of if you’re growing a new person:
EAT. If you have to, eat two of every meal! I’m not saying you have to pig out, but if you are hungry, it’s for a reason. That little thing is growing at a ridiculous rate and you will feel the drain. Eat breakfast and snack again before lunch. Eat supper when you get home and again when your man gets home, or whatever suits your schedule. Carry snacks with you.
A system of eating 6 little meals rather than 3 big ones is going to help you later, when your baby belly is squishing your stomach up under your lungs and even though you’re hungry, there’s no room.
This whole “eat a lot” thing isn’t permission to junk out though, okay? Eat things that are actually food, rather than stuff made in a factory and wrapped in plastic. Eat real food.
DRINK. Water. Drink lots of water. Listen, I’m not gonna speak in codes here, this is the honest truth... you do not want to get constipated when you’re pregnant. There, I said it. Let’s not speak of this again. Go get a glass of water.
SLEEP. Go to bed early, like maybe two hours earlier than you normally do. Most of us don’t get enough sleep as it is.
Especially in your first months, you need to sleep a lot. I was working in an office the first time around, and at lunch hour I’d head into the boss’s room to crash on his couch while he was out. I don’t think I’d have made it to 5 pm without that, but I had to get creative.
STAY ACTIVE. All those muscles will change over the next few months, so keep them strong and flexible. Of course, I wouldn’t know about this because I was ordered to bed rest in order to keep my babies where they belonged until they were fully baked...
BE SENSIBLE. If your doctor orders you to bed rest, you gotta do it. Don’t whine that you’re wasting your life away, or you don’t have time, or any other kind of rebellious resistance. Damn right you see all the dust on the shelves when you’re not allowed to get up. Too bad. Find a good book. Once I made my peace with being a beached whale for the next 6 months (okay five) I decided to just enjoy this time. It wouldn’t happen again until I’m in my 90s most likely, so I settled in with a stack of books and learned how to relax.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMOTIONS. Pregnancy brings on a whole range of emotions. Feelings you wouldn’t have thought could happen at the same time will course through you, together and then in sequences. Don’t worry if you’re ecstatic one minute and then sobbing. Just let it be.
However, if you feel that it’s out of control, don’t just put up with it. If you’re worried about a nagging emotion, or any kind of obsessive thoughts, speak up. Tell your doctor. Some serious stuff can come at this time. Be honest with yourself and recognize if your emotions are scaring you. It doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad mother - I think it’ll make you better.
NEST. Don’t take on a big renovation project but by all means, putter around and get your nest feathered. Enjoy it. You’re building a home, and I don’t mean the physical building: I mean home.
BABY-PROOF. Your kid won’t come out of you walking and reaching for dangerous stuff, but do it now, if you’re physically capable. If you’re young/ poor enough that you haven’t accumulated a lot of pretty and delicate things in your home, you are that far ahead already! Pack stuff up, give it away, whatever, but make your life easier and get your home ready. (plus making cleaning easier once Jr’s in your life. Not that I’d know...)
MOISTURIZE. I’ve head it said that stretch marks are more dependent on the skin you’ve inherited, but why take the chance? Smooth some lotion or oil on your expanding belly. Even if it doesn’t prevent marks, it’s comforting and soothing. Don’t forget to include your thighs and butt. Yep, you’re going to stretch aaaall over. And your boobs, they’ll likely expand. Just sayin’.
LAUGH. Find a way. You’ve got a lot on your mind, and comic relief feels pretty good.
DEVELOP A SELECTIVE INFO FILTER. You don’t have to take any of my advice. You don’t have to take anybody’s. Filter out what you can’t agree with. I think it all deserves a first listen, but if you judge the advice to be wrong for you, don’t even let it in.
EASE UP ON THE SPENDING. Yeah, I know, I’m just famously cheap, but you know what? Babies need less things than we are currently led to believe. Most baby furniture can be bought second hand (always check current safety guidelines) and there’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs. The kid doesn’t know the difference and won’t remember! I’m an opinionated little hick who grew up cheap and raised my own babies cheap, but I truly believe that material things aren’t as important as we think they are.
TRY THE PLAYGROUND TEST. Yell a potential baby name across a playground. If you feel stupid, don’t give your baby that name.
RELAX. We’ve been doing this for like, a million years. Take deep breaths and be thankful.
And you know what? I think it’s perfectly okay to feel slightly smug. You are growing a whole new person. Aren’t you smart?