by Maureen Lipinski for ParentsConnect
My son is at the height of his Terrible Twos, but it often seems like just yesterday that the test stick turned pink. During my pregnancy, I read every book, watched dozens of movies and scoured the Internet for information but there were still several things that surprised me. Here are the top things that I wish I knew before I got pregnant:
- People will never hesitate to ask, "Was it planned?" I still have not figured out the appropriate answer to that question. I mean, it's either, "Yes. We had sex every day," or, "No! Can you believe the souvenir we brought back from Cancun?"
- There's a good chance you'll get HUGE. I expected to gain weight-after all, I was pregnant. What I didn't expect was that I would blow right past "chubby," "big," and "massive" and head straight for "enormous."
- Your ankles might resemble overstuffed sausages by the ninth month. It started out small-just a little puff here, a slight swelling there. By the end, it looked like I was baking bread in my shoes. Of course, it didn't help that I had my son in August, but I never would've believed that I would need up go up three shoe sizes. Flip-flops quickly became my best friend.
- You'll constantly get fearful looks from strangers in your ninth month. As I neared the end of my pregnancy, it was difficult to go out in public, thanks to the startled expressions and nervous glances at my lower regions-as though people expected a baby to come sailing out, without warning, in the middle of Williams Sonoma.
- Tune out the horror stories. People LOVE to tell their horror stories about being in labor for fifty-seven hours, or overshare about their recovery. Just smile knowingly and nod your head while picturing a Happy Place.
- Birth plans are great, but flexibility is mandatory. Armed with a list of my demands, er, requests, I marched into the hospital to be induced. Excited about eating during labor, having an epidural as soon as possible and holding my baby immediately after birth, I had no idea that two hours later, I would have an emergency c-section. It was a huge reminder that while it's always good to plan, the unexpected can occur and the most important thing is to have a healthy baby.
- Never say, "Well, MY baby won't do that." One of the hard and fast rules of parenting is to expect the unexpected. And yes, your baby will scream in public, embarrass you in the grocery store and poop while you're shopping at Nordstrom.
- It's OK if you don't feel bonded immediately after birth. Labor and delivery is hard, exhausting work. Sure, it's rewarding, but it's perfectly normal if you need a little downtime before you get the warm and fuzzies for your baby. After my c-section, I was so tired that I asked my mother-in-law if I should get a tattoo over my c-section scar and kept asking the score of the Cubs game before I remembered to hold my son.
- Your body will eventually go back to normal after breastfeeding. I had heard the stories about stretched out skin and terms like "flapjack boobs" when people asked if I planned to nurse my son, so I was terrified of what would happen after I stopped. It took awhile-like, a year-but everything thankfully morphed from deflated balloon status to some semblance of normal.
- Being a mom rocks. I really, truly, honestly wish that I had know that I was about to start the most amazing, fulfilling, difficult, life-changing and defining period of my life. And that even when my child is two years old and in the midst of the Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad, Twos, that I would still love being a mom.
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