Though certain events or situations in pregnancy can be universal, and there are thousands of pregnancy and childbirth websites to prove it, the actual experience of pregnancy is extremely individual. Retrospectively, I wish I'd been able to give a little more intentional thought as to how I made some of my pregnancy decisions. In fact, if I could, there are questions I want to ask my pre-baby self about pregnancy.
You know that feeling you get, while pregnant, that you're doing something wrong? Like after you've downed hot wings and bleu cheese dressing and you suddenly realize bleu cheese is a soft cheese. Then you frantically scour the internet in search of reassurance and/or confirmation that you did not, in fact, hurt your fetus by scarfing down that forbidden food. Oh, and it's worth noting that by "you," I definitely mean "me."
Sometimes having the world at your fingertips via the internet is a great thing. You have access to so much more information to help you make informed decisions about what you do or do not want to be doing with your pregnant body. There's a downside to all that readily available information, though, and that side is worth exploring. I, for one, became overly concerned with "doing things right" during my pregnancies. The truth is, though, more often than not there's no one right way to do anything related to pregnancy. Searching around for the one right answer can become overwhelming, guilt-inducing, and took me out of the present moment, so I'm sure I missed a lot due to all that anxiety. I wish I could help reground my pre-baby self in the present with these simple questions:
"Do You Really Need To Spend $50 On Cocoa Butter?"
Ain't nothing going to stop the hereditary stretch marks, dear. Might as well just lean into it and save the money for a postpartum self-care treat.
"Are Twists Really Going To Hurt Your Fetus?"
I stopped doing yoga when I was seven weeks pregnant, during my first pregnancy, because I read somewhere that twists would squeeze your uterus and be bad for the baby. In my pregnancy fog, apparently, I didn't stop to think about all the other pregnant women in my classes who were doing twists whose babies all turned out just fine. My poor muscles and compiling stress hormones, not to mention my yoga practice, suffered tremendously for what turned into a two-year hiatus from one of my most essential self-care techniques.
"Don't You Think You Should Dress Up Anyway?"
I was really obsessed with pregnant person Halloween costumes. I was only pregnant once on Halloween, but I really should have dressed up anyway the other two times I was pregnant. It's fun, you guys, and I don't care what anyone says.
"Don't You Want To Sing To Them?"
Prior to pregnancy, I had always thought I would be one of those pregnant people who sang to, played music for, and constantly had an open dialogue with their bellies. It was a cutesy fairy tale in my mind, to be sure, but for some reason I really didn't do it and I kind of wish I had.
"Do You Really Need To Spend All That Money On Maternity Clothes?"
Because, seriously, your partner has outfits you can wear and that nice lady from work gave you all her hand-me-downs. Why don't you put that money in a college savings account for your future child instead?
"Have You Enjoyed Sleeping? If Not, Please Consider Doing So Now."
My first pregnancy began in the middle of my third and final year of graduate school. I had no idea that final year was the last year I would ever sleep decently. Like, ever.
You see, dear reader, as a survivor of chronic incest I was an insomniac from a very young age. Even if I had felt safe enough to sleep once I was out of that environment, I was in the party-hardy-college years. By the time I'd done some deep therapeutic trauma resolution it was the beginning of my third year of graduate school. Not only was that final year rife with sleepless nights of studying and worrying about being a "good enough" clinician, but by the second trimester of pregnancy I was barraged with a severe case of chronic, pregnancy-induced insomnia.
Oh, sleep! How I miss you!
"Are You Sure You Don't Want A Babymoon?"
Apparently there's this thing called a babymoon, where soon-to-be parents take a vacation before their little one is born. I never really understood why folks would do this. What a needless waste of money right before you're about to bring a really expensive human into your household budget, right? Turns out, though, and now that I am the happy mama to three and it seems likely I will never be alone with my partner for more than five minutes again, I can appreciate how smart those other almost-parents were. Please, pre-baby me, won't you reconsider your stance against this private time?
In summary, there's a reason they say hindsight is 20/20. Just like the youth is wasted on the youthful, unfortunately, mamas will never be able to impart their wisdom to their younger, pre-baby selves. So, if you are currently pre-baby, please do what my pre-baby self couldn't and answer these questions for yourself.