I have always wanted to be a mother. But I was never excited with the idea of being pregnant and giving birth. In fact, I have already considered adoption and made a mental calendar for when I would come knocking at one of the orphanages. Because my gullibility has always imagined that motherhood is like a fairy tale while pregnancy and giving birth are crudely horrifying.
Yet, almost two years after getting married I was wonderstruck when I learned I was pregnant. Unlike in the movies, I did not vomit nor felt nauseated. I took a pregnancy test on a bit of a whim—which I secretly fancied to be a sorting hat—and seconds later two lines appeared. I didn’t jump nor cry, because of sudden gush of happiness. I didn’t actually believe it. It felt weird. I think when you are presented with new experiences in life, you are not always certain how to react.
It took me a couple of days to finally admit that I was indeed pregnant. I guess it can be surreal, especially for a first-time mom-to-be like me who was engrossed with worries and fears. While I was thrilled to be having a baby, I was equally scared of the responsibilities that come with it. Because for once I had to be serious about taking care of myself or risk the health of someone who was directly dependent on me—my baby! Yes, the pressures in life and the weirdness of adulthood.
It is not that I am an expert nor will I ever be, but there were several things I discovered I didn’t know about pregnancy. I give credits to YouTube videos that were more like scary clips than informational, GIFs that reiterated how pregnancy can be a walk in the park and friends who pranks because of their self-declared love for you, for my lack of understanding about pregnancy before I actually got pregnant.
1. Choosing Your Practitioner is like “Choosing the Right College for You”
You will be surrounded by “experts” who will eagerly advise you on your pregnancy. Your family, friends who have experienced or heard about the journey of pregnancy, and probably even strangers you bump into while doing your groceries. That’s fine. Because when you are pregnant, you become the center of the universe (well, most of the time). All of a sudden, everyone becomes interested in your daily life. But to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed with a lot of information, that are at times conflicting and bewildering (don’t get me started with all the superstitious beliefs and urban legends!), it is important that you choose a practitioner that will make you feel comfortable, safe and secure.
Prenatal care is an integral part of a healthy pregnancy. Therefore, choosing your practitioner is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make. It’s the kind of expert who will demystify the changes your body undergoes, will burst your imaginary dialogue bubbles whether or not you share them explicitly (yes, even your weirdest and probably most embarrassing thoughts), and will guide you through the kind of childbirth experience you envision.
You can opt for an obstetrician, midwife or family physician. My husband and I decided on an obstetrician because it was the simplest choice for us. Although it wasn’t the easiest. We had to check directories of practitioners, read blogs and reviews, considered couple of referrals, and met with the top contenders. It almost felt like choosing the right college for you!
We knew we found the right practitioner because we were treated with genuine care that felt almost familial from the first visit. We were given the right amount of information without being overwhelmed, and our visits were never transactional.
2. Your Prescriptions and Lab Results are Your New Love Letters
Because my childhood brings back memories of clinic visits and hospital stays, I never became a fan of doctors and medicines. Often times, I would wait until the pain and discomfort becomes excruciatingly unbearable before I consider taking medicines or seeing a doctor. But all of these changed when I became pregnant.
I looked forward to clinic visits because I was always excited to learn more about the state of my baby—the size, gender, sound of her heartbeat, her kicks and weird movements and so much more. Except for the weight gain, I was also amazed at how my body underwent several changes to support the growth of our little one. Oddly enough, I was happy that I could discuss all of these comfortably with our obstetrician.
Hence, it is no surprise that while I made sure all our decisions were informed, I was also confident in following our obstetrician’s prescriptions and advises. I started taking prenatal vitamins, worked on my yoga and Kegels, and religiously took all the laboratory tests I was asked to do.
At times, it was nerve wracking whenever we had to wait for laboratory test results (CAS, HgB A1C, OGTT!) that as soon as they were released we would read articles about them so we could get preliminary information to manage our expectations. It was almost like reading love letters, some words needed deciphering!
3. You Will Eat and Sleep Like Never Before
In Iceland there is a saying, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”. Unfortunately, that also applied to my ever-changing appetite and cravings during pregnancy.
My husband was just returning from a business travel when he noticed my craving for apples. Apparently, I was eating a lot of them, which never happened before because I hate apples. Yes, I forgot I hate them! I also started eating vegetables without judging them at first sight, drank more milk like they were substitutes to my wine (I’m not a boozehound, just a mama that used to like her glass of wine once in a while), and made fruits (including apples of course) my daily snack. There were also days when I finally come to my senses, and I would order in burgers, fried chicken and fries, sometimes in quantities that was once unimaginable for me to consume. Then comes the regrettable requests my husband had to deal with—I would ask him to get my favorite meal only to disregard it once served because of the strong smell. Indeed, pregnancy encourages your potential to become an extra complex human being.
You might also discover that there is no limit to the amount of sleep you can get. During my first trimester, I could sleep anywhere and anytime unbothered by noise, light whatsoever. Exhaustion felt like my eternal state and dozing off became the only remedy. My second trimester was quite the same although I was less tired and more active. I would sleep whenever I could and do something productive when I had an extra dose of alertness. My third trimester was more challenging with a bigger bump but my sleep was still sufficiently longer than usual.
4. You might not suffer from your Mood Swings but Everyone else will
It might sound untrue, but my husband and I have never had a fight. We have disagreements but we never fight. As a result, it has become difficult for us to even be mad at each other. But alas, pregnancy has turned me into a totally different person.
I was mad at my husband on various occasions and for senseless reasons. I remember being mad at him because he didn’t return my flamingo inflatable floater in our storage. In fact, I was so extremely mad that I ignored him for a day, which is also rare for someone so talkative like me! It was a scary day for my husband.
I also cried so many times because of sad and funny movies. Because I couldn’t fit into my dresses. Because I couldn’t eat spicy food anymore. Or simply because I could cry.
5. Changing Your Wardrobe will no longer be Seasonal but Situational
While some women feel sexy with their bump, it wasn’t always the case for me. There were times when it was difficult for me to accept that I couldn’t fit into my dresses anymore, and that my choices were limited to spandex or balloon inspired clothing. Essentially, my wardrobe wasn’t acclimatizing with the changing seasons but with situations. Because what fits in the morning might not fit in the evening anymore.
It also felt frustrating that buying new clothes required longer time in dressing rooms different from what I got used to, when I could just pick up something from a rack and head straight to the register without having to try it on.
Even though objectively speaking I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, being pregnant was certainly not a breeze. But I still believe that it is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve been through. It felt like an entirely different way of experiencing the concept of beauty and of life. It brought an inexplicable mix of emotions. I was grateful and excited, fearful and worried, but above all, I was feeling immensely blessed to be carrying a little soul I have fallen in love with.