Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My say on pregnancy

I have mentioned from time to time in my posts that I am pregnant. I figure that it is about time I say something in more detail about it. I am currently six months pregnant. I seem to handle pregnancy fairly well. I have two daughters, ages 4 and nearly 2. I had a miscarriage before this current pregnancy so that brings the total up to 4 pregnancies. My husband calculated that I have been pregnant for a third of our married life.

Nothing has changed my life as much as becoming a Mom. That change started with that first positive pregnancy test. I had been planning to have children. I had thought ahead and tried to get myself into good habits before we started to try. But, somehow, when that positive test tells you you're pregnant, you begin to have a series of realizations about how life is different. You suddenly are forbidden to take medication that you used to rely on. You have a barrage of advice from family, friends, and complete strangers which is of greatly varying worth and have to sort through what to believe. You hear pregnancy and delivery horror stories. Advertizers try to make you think that if you don't use their product, you will be either endangering your child or guilty of gross neglect. People do tend to treat you nicer (once you start showing). I actually had someone give up a seat on a bus for me once. People also tend to want to treat you as an invalid in some ways. But, the biggest realization for me was that this new life is completely dependent on me.

Another thing that pregnancy has taught me is that it is a lot of waiting. There is the waiting to get pregnant, the waiting each cycle to find out if you are, the waiting until the first doctor's appointment, the waiting day by day that seems to take forever, the waiting for test results of one kind or another, the waiting for labor to occur. The first time around was worst. We waited 7 months before becoming pregnant the first time (not a terribly long time, but not right away). Everything was new to us and even the research we did to learn more about the pregnancy didn't seem to help us with the daily waiting. Then, I went through a false labor scenario about a month before the due date. Also, my first child decided to stick around and I was finally induced about a week and a half after the due date when they saw in an ultrasound that this baby was getting big (estimate was 9 pounds, they were off by an ounce: 8 pounds, 15 ounces).

I was never one who got all googly around babies. I avoided babysitting other people's kids. So when my first child was born and they put her in my arms and I realized that for better or for worse I was her Mom, and I had better start acting like it. From then on it has been Mom on call 24/7. I have learned a lot.

Now that I'm on my fourth pregnancy, I can say that I've learned some useful things.

1. You need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you're tired, find a way to rest. If you're hungry, you should eat. If you are having a craving (within reason), go with it. If you get clumsy (I start dropping things and spilling things almost immediately after conceiving and well before I would normally have a clue), use extra care.

2. If you are tall (like I am), start cooking on the back burners. My belly and maternity tops would overhang counter tops and stove tops. Verrrry unsafe situation. Besides, when the kids are tall enough to reach that high, It's an extra precaution to keep them safe.

3. Get a sense of humor if you don't already have one. Revel in the absurd things that happen to you when you are pregnant. It's a training ground for the funny absurd things you experience as a parent.

4. The waiting is hard, but it will eventually end. Every time I've been pregnant, the wait has been less of a burden because I am more and more distracted by life with my growing family.

5. The last trimester of pregnancy is going to be uncomfortable. Some things help, some things don't, but eventually you just want your baby out at all costs.

6. Try to stay active in some way during pregnancy. I like to go for walks. In my first pregnancy I had a route that was about 1.5 miles. Near the end, I had to decrease it to around the block (and it was a small block). But good health helps you recover afterwards faster. We've moved since then, and my current walk is more like 0.8 miles with some hills. Of course now I've got two kids to herd as well. So my walk now involves pushing two kids in a double stroller or pushing one in a jogging stroller while the other uses her tricycle (As an added exercise the tricycler needs to be pushed up hill every once in a while which can be accomplished by bumping the jogging stroller on her back bumper). The activity improves mine and my kids moods and does seem to help my overall health. I've impressed my doctor with how much exercise I get. Of course, if you have preschoolers or toddlers as well, then that is a built in exercise program, too.

7. No matter how you carry your baby during your pregnancy, if you are visibly pregnant people will think you are nearly ready to have your baby. Don't take it as an insult or slur against you. They don't know what they are talking about. Even when they have been through it themselves, they forget how big a woman at 9 months pregnant really is. I've gotten big faster each pregnancy and this time had people making comments about the baby's imminent arrival when I was only 4 months pregnant. In my case, I carry my babies out in front as if I swallowed a basketball. I don't look pregnant from behind and have visibly startled store clerks who come up behind me and ask me if I need help finding something. By the time I am 9 months pregnant I have a huge belly sticking out in front and people around me start acting like I am a bomb ready to go off.

8. As a corrolary to the last point, people will ask you at some point if you are having twins. The closer you are to your due date the more likely they will say "are you sure you're not having twins? You're so big." Just remember that they probably haven't been around a woman pregnant with twins lately.

Well, that is probably enough on pregnancy tonight. Maybe on another occasion I will have my say on what I've learned from being a parent.

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