My first pregnancy is not what I would consider a "good time." I had morning sickness, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), and endured prodromal labor for a month before having my baby almost a week past her due date. I had timed my pregnancy to end at the beginning of summer, but I didn't think about what it would be like to care for a newborn in the summer heat. I spent three months topless, sweaty, and overwhelmed. So when it was time for baby number two I timed my pregnancy so I could have a fall baby. Turns out, that was a mistake, too.
I love fall, my friends. In fact, I love fall almost to a bizarre degree. I am enamored with everything about the season, including the cool weather, the pumpkin spice lattes, the overabundance of sweaters and leggings, pairing boots with dresses, the falling leaves, baking pies, and preparing for Halloween. I am a ridiculous fan of damn near anything associated with fall, except football, and make no apologies for basking in this season's undeniable glory.
So I thought that having a baby in the fall would be nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Instead of adding to my favorite season's magic, having a fall baby essentially, well, ruined it. A huge shadow was cast over my time at home with a newborn, and at a time when I'd usually be overjoyed.
In order to have a fall baby, of course, I had to be very pregnant during the summer. That, my friends, was a horrible experience. Not only did I have hyperemesis gravidarum, which meant I spent months puking every single day, but the summer heat triggered my nausea during my commute, when I rode in the car, and pretty much every time I walked outside. For the entirety of my pregnancy I was sick, and the summer weather only seemed to make it worse.
What I loved most about the season felt out of reach; like the universe was dangling my favorite fall activities in front of my face, knowing I couldn't participate.
I was also constantly sweating, which made me feel considerably uncomfortable. I had sweaty under-boob and under-belly areas for months, complete with chafing and heat rash. I was desperate for some sort of reprieve, but I couldn't catch a break. Not from my pregnancy symptoms. Not from the heat. Not from, well, much of anything.
Which is, of course, when I started to swell. I couldn't wear most things in my maternity wardrobe and lived in sundresses until the weather got too cold. When the temperature did drop, I couldn't fit into my maternity leggings or my favorite fall boots. I was stuck wearing flip flops in the fall, because I couldn't fit my swollen feet in anything else, so while it felt like I was carrying a space heater inside my stomach my feet were constantly cold. Unless my body was submerged in water, I was miserable, so every oversized sweater and pair of pants that would've normally made me happy just facilitated an uncomfortable hellscape I seemed stuck in.
And, of course, I didn't account for allergy season. I sneezed and peed my pants through late pregnancy and without any sort of relief. I couldn't take any medication that actually worked to relieve my sinus and allergy symptoms, either, so I was nothing short of miserable.
I was also too exhausted to do my favorite fall things, like picking apples, baking pies, and decorating our house with a million pumpkins and gourds. What I loved most about the season felt out of reach; like the universe was dangling my favorite fall activities in front of my face, knowing I couldn't participate.
There's no way you can time a pregnancy and avoid all the hardship that comes with caring for a newborn.
I was also shamed for trying to enjoy my favorite fall meals and beverages. If I ordered a pumpkin spiced latter at the local Starbucks, people would stare. If I wanted to chow down on a pumpkin muffin, Halloween candy, or piece of pecan pie, people would ask me if I really "needed" to eat that item. The damn pregnancy police were out in full force, reminding me that even if I could enjoy something remotely fall related, I shouldn't.
I also assumed it would be so fun to have a baby on Halloween. I envisioned tiny newborn Halloween costumes and adorable, themed family pictures. But instead of dressing my daughter up or taking her trick or treating with the family, I spent the year's scariest evening on my couch trying to nurse. For the first time in 40 years, I didn't dress up for my favorite holiday.
I also didn't anticipate feeling so isolated during the winter months. It was constantly cold and miserable outside, so I couldn't take my baby out for walks or a trip to the beach or for a play session in the backyard. Instead, we stayed inside while I watched episode after episode of The West Wing. Just like I felt alone as a new mom with a summer baby, I felt alone as a new mom with a fall baby.
This entire experience did teach me one valuable lesson, though: there is no "ideal" time to have a baby. There's no way you can time a pregnancy and avoid all the hardship that comes with caring for a newborn. Regardless of the season or the weather or whether or not you have to lug your baby around to family gatherings, postpartum life is going to be hard. In the end, you can plan to the best of your ability but life will take those plans and throw them out the proverbial window.
So my advice? Fall, winter, summer, or spring baby... just be flexible, take care of you, and reach out for help when you need it.