Things No One Told Me About Being Pregnant, Labor, and Beyond

or The Alien Extraction: Bonus Features
Things no one told me about being pregnant

There’s dozens of these post all over the internet (I’ve read my fair share), but here’s a few things about pregnancy, labor, and beyond that I didn’t know about
Disclaimer: post may contain parenting advice from a 23 year-old who’s been a parenting for a whole month, disregard as needed.
How baby kicks/movement actually feel.
                Like butterflies in your stomach? Seriously? Maybe I’ve never had that true butterfly feeling because that’s not what it felt like. More like an alien squirming in my stomach. Honestly though, it took me a week before I actually knew that it was the baby and not my digestion.
                And you can see your stomach move. It was cool, except I kept waiting for the alien to pop out of my stomach and do a tap dance.

This would have freaked me out. That’s just creepy.

You won’t necessarily be a nervous wreck but you won’t totally be you
                I never had too crazy of hormone-induced fits, but I had no control over my water works. If I was remotely stressed or upset, there were tears.
Your stomach will randomly get hard
                Rock hard, for no apparent reason.
And change shape
                You see pictures of women with their adorable baby bump, imagining yourself with the perfect little basketball-tummy. The truth is you will be lopsided, that baby’s not a sphere, so don’t be surprised to look down and notice that one side sticks out more than the other.
And cramps, yeah, you’ll still have those
                One advantage of being pregnant was no periods for nine months, right? Well, the reason you cramp when you’re on your period is because of your uterus contracting, and guess what it’s doing when you’re pregnant? Making itself bigger. Enjoy.
Pregnancy hair is awesome
                Maybe, or it could have just been the European climate, not sure on this one anymore.
You will throw some of your ladyness out the door for comfort
                As your bun in the oven grows, you’ll be running out of space andthat lack of space (and hormones) will throw off your digestion. So in an effort to get more comfortable, don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly find yourself OK with letting certain things go, like some gas.
The idea of people rubbing your belly becomes even weirder
                Please, just don’t. Seek permission first at least.
Post-Partum and Beyond
Your modesty and dignity will go flying out the window, and you won’t care
                I’m not an extreme conservative, but I am modest. When I first got out of bed while wearing that lovely gown, I did request they close the window blinds. After that however, I stopped caring about having the back of the gown tied. After delivering, there are tons of people constantly coming in and out of the room: nurses, nursing students, the doctor, nutrition, housekeeping, you name it. Between nursing and having to have a nurse escort me to the bathroom, I really didn’t care how covered or uncovered I was.
                And that dignity? Someone has to escort you to the bathroomand check how much you excrete. After a couple of times they trust you to go by yourself, but then you go home, and your bathroom probably doesn’t have bars on the walls for you to grip, so you’ll probably need help in there too. Thankfully, the hubby and I have a strong bond and he made sure to never look in my direction.
Labor will not go exactly to plan
                My birth plan was written on a large Lion King T-shirt I bought to use as a maternity shirt—Hakuna Matata.



Now if you’re more particular, or just really want to have an all-natural delivery or have that kid in a pool, then you should probably write up a real one. But keep in mind that anything could happen during that labor process.

                 If you’ve read my labor story then you know that all signs pointed toward me having an easy labor. Well, since my labor wasn’t progressing seven hours after my water broke, I was given pitocin to help me along. The pitocin made the contractions more intense than I would have naturally experienced, and combined with the length of time I had been in labor/hospitals, I was exhausted so I got an epidural. I finally became fully dilated only to find that my baby wasn’t turned correctly (he needed to be face-down but instead was face-up) and getting stressed by the labor process. My doctor finally made the call to do a C-section. During my surgery, he discovered that my body had been working so hard (I had been having contractions every 2 to 3 minutes for nine hours at this point) to get the baby out that my pelvis had actually swelled up so much that the baby wouldn’t have fit, even if he was positioned correctly.
                “A wedding’s not a show, if at the end of the day you married the right person then everything went well” (I think that’s how it goes). Same for labor, if at the end of the day you had a baby, then everything went fine.


Doctor’s may get top billing, but nurses rule the show
                Yes, you will probably spend a lot of time and effort selecting the doctor to deliver your baby—and you should, so you know you can trust their opinion (my doctor is awesome) when push comes to shove (literally)—but let’s be honest, the nurses get you through it. You’ll see your doctor a handful of times during the hours you spend in labor, they’ll call the (medical) shots, but it’s the nurses who will pop in and out of you room, and see your not-so-pleasant side.
                And they’ll make or break your recovery time. Colton and I were very spoiled our first day because we were the only people in the maternity ward. Plus, we had the same day nurse everyday during the day shift (except for Monday, but she still popped in with a nursing student that was shadowing), and she made us feel like we were at home being taken care of by mom. Not all the nurses had stellar bedside manners though, some were a little indifferent, some were a bit particular. But between Marsha, the amazing day nurse, and eager to help nursing students, we were well taken care of during our stay (seriously, Marsha knew how much sugar and cream Colton took in his coffee, and how much ice I like in my juice).
Leg massages!
                Because I had an epidural I couldn’t walk, so in order to prevent blood clots occurring because you’re lying in bed all day, the nurses put these massager things on your legs. Which are awesome, yet confusing because you don’t notice them until the epidural wears off. But seriously, I wish I had those things when we were flying back from Europe.
Buy some larger cotton panties
                The hospital will give you some super stretchy underwear, which is great, but you will eventually want some real underwear. However, no matter how you give birth you will have some bleeding for a few weeks afterwards (could be like a period or just light spotting). So rather than risk your cute panties, get some cotton ones you won’t be attached to.
You may not look pregnant, but you will be bigger
                I was that annoying pregnant chick who only gained 20 pounds and could still wear my normal clothes. After they finished my surgery, my nurses looked at my stomach and said that didn’t look like I ever had a baby in my stomach. So a bit of surprise for me that when I left the hospital (2 days after delivering), my FAT sweatpants were tight. So get those cotton panties a size bigger than you would normally purchase (if you had a C-section you’ll appreciate the looseness over your incision even after the swelling goes down).

Now for some showing off: left 37/38 weeks, right 2 weeks post-partum

Stool softeners
                Just take them, why risk it.
Workout during your pregnancy (if you can), especially if you have a C-section
                And not just the muscles you use to push. After my C-section, I couldn’t use my abdominal muscles without intense pain and risk opening my incisions. Hospital beds have buttons that lower you to the ground, and raise you to a sitting position, but odds are the bed at home is not that fancy. The only way I was a mobile as I was (and I walked like a 90 year-old man for the first few days), was because I had strong leg muscles (go yoga and squats!) to lift myself out of bed and used my arms to pull myself up when I needed to.
Your nurses will eagerly ask you if you are passing gas
                This will come up every time they come in your room after you have the baby. No gas = no real food. So start passing honey.
That no real food means. . .
                Popsicles (Italian Ice, yum!), Jell-O, juice, and broth. I’ve never consumed just broth before, but over a day of that being the closest thing to real food I was glad for it, and by the time I got home, I actually just wanted broth and Jell-O.
Then they’ll want to you to go for a walk, and you’ll think they’re crazy
                The epidural had hardly worn off and suddenly my day nurse was all for removing my catheter so I could start going to the bathroom and walk down the hall. My internal response was along these lines. . .
                Remove the catheter? Why? It’s awesome! I don’t have to go to the bathroom, I can just stay here and not move. Walk down the hall? Are you crazy?
                By Sunday evening, she had the catheter out of me and I had to start the fun of calling the nurses to go to the bathroom (or in this case, it was a nursing student, which was great. “So how do you like Tarleton? I went there when they were building the nursing building. Ok, can you help me to the bathroom? Do you need to see how much I peed this time?” yeah, lovely.)
                 I didn’t start walking down the hall until the day after I delivered (the whole staples and incision in my abdominal pelvic region made me not too keen on the whole moving thing), so no real food until Monday night (gas and walking around are required before the nurses let you have food).
                They kept telling me to take a shower, I mistakenly was afraid of that too, my first shower after surgery was amazing.
               
Parenting will not go exactly to plan
                I had full intentions of Ames sleeping in the crib and not with us when we got home. Well, he didn’t like sleeping in the crib so ended up sleeping on my chest most nights. Yes, he’s a bit spoiled from that now, but a baby’s only going to be that tiny for a small time, not to mention sure cuddly and uber dependent on you, so enjoy the extra snuggles while you can.



                In summary: I had been a parent for a whopping week and already broke one of my pre-baby parenting rules. So be flexible and roll with it.
Your baby is hilarious
                The amount of facial expressions this kid comes up with is ridiculous and I wish I knew what was going on in his head.



Accept Help

                Now I am all for independence and doing it yourself, plus this is YOUR baby, so you need to learn how your baby ticks; however, you’re body just went through some traumatic stuff, whether it was a vaginal birth or a C-section, so allow yourself some breaks, even after  your body have recouped. I have a huge luxury in the fact that these first weeks I’ve had my husband with me during the process, not to mention my mother. I love that my voice is the only one that Ames responds to, but I know that because I’m breastfeeding, that response is the same as an eight year-old and the ice cream truck; so I’ll save both of us some energy and let someone else tend to him for an hour or two.


Motherhood really does come naturally

                 Let me just put this out there, I don’t like babies. I like mine, a few others I find cute, some I like because I like their parents. Babies in general however, I’m not a fan of, I’ll play with them when they’ve gotten closer to looking like a human (like, when they’re four). Before Ames, I could count the number of times I’ve held a baby on one hand. But once I had him, it all seemed to make sense and I for some reason knew exactly what I was doing.

2 days after birth
There’s an 1 month old baby in there, promise!
Two week doctor appointment


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