I've been pregnant in two separate decades and, let me tell you, they were very different. Yes, I experienced morning sickness and my skin broke out and numerous body parts did that horrible swelling thing, but my second pregnancy was nothing like my first. What I assumed would be another horrible experience was, well, not all that bad. In the end, I guess the hilarious differences between being pregnant in your 20s versus your 30s saved me the pains of a first-time pregnancy. Well, sort of.
Now that I'm closer to *cough* 40, it's somewhat easy for me to see how growing another human being in my body when I was in my 20s had its pros and cons. For example, I was blissfully unaware of what was to come and naive about the future, but I had no idea how to prepare for things like morning sickness, heartburn, and how feeling uncomfortable in your own skin can impact your mental health. In a way, both the unknown and the overwhelming naivety are what made that pregnancy so amazing and so annoying, all at once.
Experiencing another pregnancy in my 30s meant going into the entire ordeal with a little more learned knowledge, but also accepting that I still didn't know what was going to happen. After all, every pregnancy is different, even when they're experienced by the same woman. So with that in mind, here are some of those glaringly obvious differences that I'm now able to look back and laugh at.
How You Feel About Those "Uncomfortable" Pregnancy Pains
When you're in your 20s: That first time I had my partner pull the car over so I could dry heave? Exciting. Round ligament pain from the stretching of my body? Awesome. Burning pee? Love it. I was able to overlook all the discomfort because I was having a freakin' baby. The first time you're pregnant means everything sucks but simultaneously doesn't — because it's the first, obviously.
When you're in your 30s: Pregnancy in my 30s, however, reminded me that dry heaving is awful, round ligament pain is uncomfortable, and burning pee 50 times a day is as bad as it sounds. I didn't have that glass-half-full, naive view of the world I had in my 20s. Oh no, no I was a pissed off woman in her 30s, and I was not happy about those uncomfortable pregnancy changes at all.
How You Document Your Pregnancy
When you're in your 20s: My mom kept a lock of my hair from my first haircut in an old scrapbook, so believe me when I swear I swore I'd never be "that mom." But there I was, pregnant in my 20s and happily pasting every ultrasound, every blood work result, and every positive pregnancy test into a damn book. When you're pregnant in your 20s with your first baby, documenting every single moment in an outdated keepsake just feels like the right thing to do.
When you're in your 30s: Who has time to scrapbook? Or journal? I'm a grown woman in my 30s, people. I don't care if you think I'm a "bad mom-to-be" for not journaling my way through morning sickness and extreme fatigue.
How You View Maternity Clothes
When you're in your 20s: I was so excited to appear pregnant enough to actually purchase maternity wear. I don't know why, but it somehow meant everything was actually happening. So shopping for maternity clothes? Um, sign me up.
When you're in your 30s: Your metabolism has dropped, your reasons for going to the gym are few and far between, and, as a result, your body looks pregnant way before you're mentally prepared to appear, well, knocked up. I outgrew my usual garb way faster when I was pregnant in my 30s. I didn't necessarily want my baggy, old maternity wear, but alas, I eventually caved and chose to accept my fate.
Your Feelings On Baby Showers
When you're in your 20s: Baby showers are for cake, and getting gifts, and celebrating the life you're carrying. It's all about you and this miraculous thing you're doing and OMG where is the red carpet you rightfully deserve to walk on? I, for one, enjoyed planning and attending every single baby shower thrown in my honor.
When you're in your 30s: Storks are stupid, color coordinated parties that tell people the sex of a still-growing fetus are unnecessary, and ridiculous baby shower games are for the birds. Give me silence, Netflix, and a comfortable couch. Do not throw me a party.
How Prepared You Are
When you're in your 20s: You read all the books and attend all the classes and subscribe to all the parenting forums. I think I rearranged the baby room a hundred times before I gave birth, too. the hospital bag was prepared and ready to go months in advance, and there wasn't a single labor and deliver question I didn't know the answer to.
When you're in your 30s: A birth plan? Why? What will be will be, people.
How You Announce Your Pregnancy
When you're in your 20s: I announced my pregnancy on every single social media platform known to man. It had the pomp and circumstance of a Broadway play, and you better believe it was a big damn deal. Like a lot of new moms, I wanted people to know well in advance so they could get a head start on the diaper gift purchases.
When you're in your 30s: I think I mentioned the pregnancy to my doctor, maybe?
Your Approach To Baby Books
When you're in your 20s: I devoured every book ever written about parenting and babies in my 20s. I did prenatal yoga, watched anything remotely pregnancy-related, and felt ready to tackle any baby issue to come my way.
When you're in your 30s: You've gained enough life experience to realize that what's written in a book is rarely indicitive of reality. Are you going to go into pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum informed? Of course. But are you going to waste time reading about and stressing over situations that may or may not occur? Nope. You've lived, you've learned, and you're ready to relax and chill out.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.