This is the first in a multi-part series about my pregnancy, birth experience, and the first year with my son. This series is inspired by one of my best friends who, when speaking with her candidly about my experience, told me I needed to blog about it. This isn’t going to be a picture-perfect depiction of #momlife. What it will be is real. Often embarrassing. Sometimes beautiful. More often flawed. Definitely messy. Full of the self-deprecating humor I’m known for, and, undoubtedly honest.
What I want every mom, soon-to-be-mom, curious woman, prospective parent, casual bystander, and grandparent to know above all else is that everyone’s experience is different. Each person is unique. Each child is a person, and therefore, also unique. What worked for me most definitely won’t work for you. But you might enjoy the story.
If you pay any mind to Old Wives’ tales, carrying a boy is a lot easier than a girl. If there is any truth to it – my only experience so far has been with my son – then this must be because boys are exhausting once they exit the womb and Mother Nature, being all about balance, is giving you a break on the front end of the parenting gig. So, let the eye rolling commence, but I did absolutely love being pregnant. Before I dive into it, let’s back up a little to the precursor to pregnancy: conception.
We were fortunate in that conception happened really quickly for us. I’m not sure how much of a difference this makes, but I had been off of my hormonal birth control for about a year and a half before we tried to conceive. Also, Ireland. Might have been the whiskey, or the fairies. Probably the whiskey.
Once you find out you are pregnant, which we did around 6 weeks with a home pregnancy test, you discover due dates are confusing. Technically they start the clock from the end of your last monthly cycle – so you really only have a fertilized embryo and the symptoms that go along with it for closer to 7 or 8 months, rather than the 9 months we’ve all come to associate with pregnancy. I just used a handy due date calculator on the BabyCenter app.
The primary symptom of my first trimester was fatigue. No nausea, no insomnia, no morning sickness. I felt pretty good, but a little tired. By the second trimester, I had a burst of energy. It wasn’t until around 38 weeks that I started to feel huge, unwieldy and ready for Baby G to make his appearance. This was mostly psychological because we had convinced ourselves he would be early (BIG mistake!)
Again, everyone’s experience is different. I’m not sure how much of this made a difference or not, but during my pregnancy I did the following:
- Yoga – I was taking hot yoga through my first trimester as I was still teaching and taking at Arrichion . By second trimester, I had dialed it back to non-heated prenatal yoga at Yoga for Life off Morehead near uptown Charlotte. It was only once a week, and we focused a lot on breath work, feeling connected to baby, and keeping our hips open and flexible. My favorite exercise was our “mock contractions,” where we essentially held a wall sit until our thighs burned and learned to breathe through it. While there were definitely physical benefits to the practice, it was being surrounded by other women and sharing resources that I enjoyed the most.
- Walking – I work uptown, and so around midday I would go and do laps around Romare Bearden park. After work or on weekends, Brian and I would walk around our neighborhood, Wesley Heights, or the nearby greenway.
- Chiropractic care and acupuncture – I have a terrible fear of needles. I did acupuncture primarily to face my fear in preparation for getting required blood work at my birthing center, although we did focus on acupuncture points to help relieve the stress and physical symptoms of pregnancy. I did about 4 or 5 sessions, and by the last one I actually found it pretty relaxing. We also did regular adjustments to help relieve back pain, and keep Baby G in a good position as much as we could. I highly recommend Dr. Bailey.
- Therapy – Again, fear of needles. And medical procedures. And blood. And doctors. Not a good recipe for deciding to get knocked up. I saw a therapist for a few months to help find some coping mechanisms to keep my anxiety from becoming overwhelming. I felt a lot of the techniques were similar to those in my yoga practice, so I ended up ending my sessions after awhile. I do think it was helpful at the start though. There was a lot of ugly crying, vocalization of fears, and raw honesty. Easier to do with someone who is paid to listed, and who you probably won’t run into socially.
- Reading – What To Expect, although my doula and almost everyone else I talked to said I should have skipped it. That it creates a lot of unnecessary fear. I didn’t read it all, but what I did read I didn’t find to be too bad. I did enjoy Mindful Birthing though, which aligned with my decision to go for an unmedicated birth experience. I had ambitions to read Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby, but never got around to it.
- Diet – I tried to keep a mainly healthy diet, but I pretty much ate like normal. 80/20, sometimes 60/40, balance of good to indulgent. My only real pregnancy symptom was a need to devour cake. Often my daily walks found me at a nearby cupcakery.
- Supplements – Garden of Life prenatal, a probiotic, and an Omega-3 supplement. After the second trimester, I drank a few cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day. It is rumored to help with unmedicated, vaginal delivery. I like this blog post from Mama Natural about it. She presents a pretty unbiased view of popular remedies. I also ate a ton of dates. I primarily put them into oatmeal, but if there is a next time, I’ll try making some homemade granola bars with dates. Near the very, very end, I used Evening Primrose oil, which was recommended to me by a few moms who found it helped kick start their labor. I did start taking it two days prior to my water breaking. And yes, I did try The Inducer pizza from Hawthornes, but no luck. I think we were too far from our due date.
As far as pregnancy gear, I got this pillow, which came in handy afterwards to prop myself up when nursing. I didn’t end up with any stretch marks (aside from one on my boob from my milk coming in), which may be attributed either to genetics or that I didn’t have any rapid weight gain, but I did use this Lush massage bar at night after a recommendation from one of the yoga moms. I received this Bella B Honey Tummy Butter in a Bump Box from my sister-in-law, and used it each morning. For clothing, at first I just purchased flowy tops and wore elastic banded pants. Athleta has some great options in the pants department. For work, I went to Motherhood Maternity when there was a sale and got over-the-bump, ankle-length, dress pants in almost every color. I paired those with white or black maternity tees from H&M, and was able to wear my normal blazers. Also, don’t forget your mom friends. Hand-me-downs rock.
With the practicalities of pregnancy aside, what I loved about pregnancy the most was how little I cared about my physical appearance any more – or rather – how beautiful I found myself and how low my self-criticism narrative got dialed down. I probably rocked a bikini more comfortably with my 7 month baby bump than at any other point in my life. It is fascinating the way your body morphs to accommodate this little parasite growing inside of you. When you realize the work your body is doing to help knit together a new life, it is perspective-altering. Yes, I got a bit of a “glow” – but I think it was less glitter emitting from my pores and more just being fascinated and enchanted with the whole process which meant my typical RBF was replaced with a constant smile. Also, my hair got wavy. All my life I wanted wavy hair – so I was pretty stoked.
And the best part of all? When that little parasite starts to move. Wow. Just wow. Baby G would hiccup all the time, and he loved to kick me in the ribs right before bed. It is when the movement started that it all felt real, and magical, and also terrifying.
My number one recommendation – relish the experience. Good or bad. And do all the things you won’t be able to later. Weekend getaways. Sleeping in until noon. Netflix binges. Hot cups of coffee (or tea). A full workday at the office. Shopping trips. Long showers. Car rides with the radio blaring. Go see movies. Lots of movies. And cuddle.
Anything you all would like to know more about?