Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? If only we could actually do something with our acquired knowledge, like...oh, I don’t know...go back in time and help your former self on the day you found out you were pregnant. While there are a zillion times in my past when I'd love to go back and knock some sense into younger me (full disclosure: most of them involve wearing a camisole as outerwear after 9pm), I would especially love the opportunity to try and calm myself the moments after I saw that positive test. I think feeling terrified and overwhelmed and excited, especially at the beginning, is a universal experience. If there’s anyone out there who wasn’t dazed, please show yourself. I want to learn your ways.
In the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of things I would have liked to have heard in my early pregnancy. In the midst of all the excitement and general hoo-ha, there was that little nagging feeling in the back of my mind that reminded me just how long, emotional, and medical the next nine months would be (not to mention the decades of parenthood that would follow). It's daunting. So, here are the basics I would offer my old self now that I can say hello from the other side (of giving birth):
"Take A Deep Breath."
Easier said than done, I know. But seriously, try to take a few deep breaths and do your best to relax. Every person who is alive right now is here because someone had a successful pregnancy. It happens millions and millions of times a year, in places with all kinds of levels of health care. So, breathe. Keep breathing.
"You Are Going To Be Fine."
Yes, it’s scary to think that you’re officially sharing your body with another person. The good news is you and that body of yours were made to do it. Hey, remember about 15 seconds ago, when I told you to breathe? It really does help.
"Get Your Breast Pump Now, You Crazy Fool!"
Wait, did it not occur to you that you might need it before you go back to work? Oh right. No one told you that you would. Well here goes: GET YOUR BREASTPUMP GET YOUR BREASTPUMP GET YOUR BREASTPUMP. You may or may not (OK, definitely will) have a need for it by the time your baby is three days old. That’s right, days.
"But Not Everything Changes (Only Most Things)."
In fact, when you first draft this piece, you’re sitting on the same couch, in the same living room, wearing your same favorite gray sweatshirt (which you fit back into just fine), while your one-year-old naps in the other room. You're still you. You're still going to feel like you.
"…And The Things That Do Change Are Actually Pretty Great."
You get baby snuggles for daaaayyys. You didn't have that before. Nothing sad about that, Past Me.
"You Are Going To Be The Same Person…Just A Bit Older And More Awesome."
You're not going to become a completely different person during childbirth or after. Yes, your priorities will shift, and your to-do list is going to be filled with the kind of stuff you never thought you would have to care about, but you're not Eminem and you're not going to lose yourself.
"Don’t Listen To The Fear Mongers About Giving Birth — You're Going To Do Fine."
I am confident that I spent way more hours fearing labor than I actually spent in labor. Yes, it’s intense and yes, it hurts, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s short. You’ve had headaches that lasted longer. As for the people who like to joke about how you’ll never sleep again? Yeah, I wish I knew what to do about them. That mess could go on forever.
"For The Love Of All Things Boob, Do More Research About Breastfeeding."
Yes, it’s natural. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
"Clear Space On Your Phone."
Or maybe take a photography class so you can take fewer, better photos? Either way, you will need to stay on top of your pic storage game. Oh, you didn't know you had to think about your pic storage game? You're welcome.
"Start Packing Food With You Everywhere You Go."
Yes, I know you're not hungry at this very second, but you will be in about three minutes. Then, you'll wish you had two cheeseburgers. Buckle up, this is your life for the next 40-ish weeks.
"Let Me Save You Some Trouble: Lemon Water, Ginger Ale, Peppermint."
Morning sickness will end, eventually. Drink these things. Also, people ask fewer questions if you're drinking them out of opaque coffee mugs.
"Don't Waste Time Wondering If Those Nausea Bands Are A Placebo. Who Cares? They’re Not Hurting Anything."
It's only the first of many of many, many things about pregnancy and motherhood that you'll never really understand. Just roll with it. Might as well give it a go.
"Welcome To The Club."
We meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays. In our secret Facebook moms group, since obviously we don't have time for actual, in-person meetings anymore. We all have small kids, so at least we all totally understand why we can never manage to hang out.