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If Only I Knew…

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Karen Flayhart

Having only been a Mom for four months, I hardly qualify as an expert on the topic of pregnancy or motherhood.  But a lack of expertise hasn’t ever stopped me from doling out unsolicited advice before, so why stop now?!  So, in no particular order, here are a few insights from my own experience.  Oy!

1.  You can get pregnant on the first ‘try’, even in your 30s.  Be prepared for it to happen right away, and be grateful that it did.  And definitely don’t complain about it to your friends who are still trying.
2.  No matter how faint that line is on the pregnancy test stick, it still counts as a line. 
3.  Fellow commuters don’t care that you are pregnant.
Don’t be surprised when no one offers you a seat on the bus or train in the morning, or when an obnoxious pedestrian practically runs you over as you waddle your way down the sidewalk.  While some people are nice, don’t count on special treatment from anyone but your partner.
4.  It is normal to hate other pregnant women who are thin everywhere except in their bellies.  For someone like me who has struggled with body image all of my life, the weight gain was the hardest part about being pregnant.  It didn’t make it any easier to see pictures of pregnant models with thin arms and legs in all of the baby magazines, or not fitting into trendy maternity clothes in boutiques (seriously, where are these women from??)  I felt like crap that I gained a little over the 20-30 pound range my doctor recommended until I realized no one I knew gained less than 30 pounds.  My advice: try to focus on the health of you and your child and not on the scale.  It will take some time and effort, but the weight will come off afterwards. 
5.  If birth isn’t imminent, stop and get a pedicure on the way to the hospital with your husband.  This really worked wonders at relaxing my husband and me, and made for a good story.  Just let your doctor know that you are *ahem* ‘stuck in traffic’ and will be a little late.
6.  The only people who need to concern themselves about if you will go through labor with or without drugs are you and your doctor. Don’t listen to anyone else—that includes your partner.  You will be the one in pain (or not), all your partner has to do is go get the ice chips. 
7.  You might change your mind about working.  There is no way you can predict with 100% accuracy how you will feel once you give birth about staying at home, either way it’s a tough decision.  Just know that feeling conflicted, even if you previously were not, is normal and that whatever you decide, you and your baby will be O.K.  Nothing is ever written in stone, you can always change your mind later. 
8.  Your younger, single brother-in-law will look at your still-inflated belly a couple of days post-partum and ask when it will “return to normal”.  Yes, you may hit him (and anyone else who asks) and blame it on post-partum mood swings.   
9.  The pregnancy weight does not melt off just because you are breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding burns up hundreds of calories a day, so I thought the weight would fall off me in a few months.  However, thanks to an increased appetite and zero time to work out, this hasn’t happened for me.  Better rule of thumb: “9 months up, 9 months down”.
10.  You will cry out of sheer happiness when you look at your child’s face, even if you aren’t normally very sentimental.
11.  You will fear kids touching your baby.  Little kids love babies, and can’t keep their germy little hands to themselves.  This will put you in a tough spot if you have family or friends with young children who can’t wait to see the baby.  Just remember that you should….
12.  Never, ever apologize for doing what you need to do for your child or for your family.  As a Mom, it is your job to put the health, security and happiness of your child and family above all else.  If that means going back to work or staying home, or keeping little cousin Moshe away for a couple of months, you do what you need to do.

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