This pregnancy was a surprise as most of us know... but here are some more things that surprised me.
This is by no means advice or lessons for anybody. Just random anecdotes and things that I wish I had known before hand or was surprised by and thought I'd share with anyone else who might be pregnant or planning to be pregnant...or none of the above and just reading this just for whatever reason.
- This is a big one for me. I wish I had known to purchase maternity tops that were also nursing tops. Nursing tops are much more pricey but chances are, you'll wind up wearing them for just as long (or maybe quite a bit longer) than your mat tops. I made a big effort to spend as little as possible on maternity clothes... but now I'm in a situation where I don't have any nursing tops. It would have been absolutely worth it to pick out a few quality "before and after" mat/nursing pieces to splurge on as they would be so useful now. Also, I wish I had been more prepared with these nursing clothes before the baby was actually born because it is HARD getting out of the house with a newborn. Shopping is pretty much impossible. Thank goodness for the Internet.
- In the same general area, I got some advice from a Momma friend to wait as long as possible to go get fitted for a nursing bra. I waited until the Thursday before my Sunday due date. Lowell and I went for lunch at New Gen and then I went to Secrets From Your Sister to get fitted. The fitting doesn't cost anything and you get individual one on one attention. The nursing bra is not something you want to scrimp on or take a good guess at your size if you plan on breastfeeding... or just in general really. I had no idea how much my body had changed, not just in the boobage area but the entire ribcage. The girl who fitted me recommended going back about a month after baby as your body goes through some major changes. Boy was she right....and this was something that surprised me. Within 2 days of Rowen being born, my entire ribcage shrunk dramatically... like, a good 3-4 centimeters. I went from needing the widest of 6 hooks on the back of the bra to the smallest setting. I didn't even realize it had expanded so much! They tell you that all your joints loosen up and open, not just the hips, in preparation for baby but it was still surprising being able to actually measure such a drastic change.
The girl who fitted me also recommended practicing using the little nursing clippy/latch thing on the bra. I thought this seemed weird but realized what she meant when I first tried it. Things like undoing bra hooks become second nature by this age... but fiddling with that little clasp was a new motion. It was good to get a hang of it before baby came. But then as it turns out, I find it easier to just take the whole bra off when we're at home. The nursing flap is certainly necessary for when we're not at home though.
- I was shocked by how quickly time flew by from the moment labour started. If you are the type who likes taking photos or journaling to commemorate events, make sure you make an effort to remember to do so. Or have your partner make it happen.
- I touched on this briefly before, but I was surprised at how drastically different my actual wants and needs during labour were from the plan I had formed in my head leading up to the event. I had initially thought that perhaps I could go without drugs since I had been practicing breathing techniques and yoga. I had this picture of myself being shockingly calm and lovely and surprising everyone. I truly believe that breathing can help with pain... but what I wasn't prepared for was that I would be so exhausted 2 hours after arriving at the hospital due to the timing. In our birth class, we also learned about massage techniques to help with labour. I thought this was perfect as I loooove massages. But then then the contractions started, I realized that I didn't want to be touched when they were happening. I wanted one of Lowell's hands to squeeze and didn't even want him to talk. It was confusing for him because I was inconsistent as to when I wanted him to help me countdown and breathe through contractions and when I'd snap at him to be quiet. I've been told that I'm a bit of a control freak... and admittedly I probably am. So I'm glad that I got it through my head to be open to whatever happened on the big day, as you really have no idea how you're going to react. The best advice that I got was to trust your body and trust your team and don't lose sight of the goal at the end of the whole thing... a healthy baby! Getting drugs and forgoing a "natural" birth doesn't make you weak and really, at the end it's still your very own body that endures the amazing but incredibly strenuous process off having a baby so it's all natural in a sense.
- OMG. Tearing and stitches. Everyone talks about labour and delivery and the pain there. But no one, not even our birth class or the books and dvds I used in preparation... and even my Momma friends, tell you about how freakin' painful it is initially and then it becomes aggravating and constantly uncomfortable even when the actual sharp pain subsides. I had no idea how difficult the first few weeks at home would be... sitting up to breastfeed sucked. Just sitting up in general sucked. In my mind, I thought "Ooh, once I come home I won't be pregnant anymore and I'll be sooo comfortable" but it took about 3 or 4 weeks to get comfortable in my own body again. I haven't done my "Aftermath" entry yet. But I wound up with a 3rd degree tear due to the fact that Rowen was 9lbs and somehow emerged with a perfectly shaped head like a C-section baby. I tells ya, the human body is amazing but totally not designed to deliver a 9 pound baby.
- My morning sickness came back in the last few weeks of being pregnant. Or my stomach ran out of room and was getting kicked all the time so it rejected food.
- This last one is the most fun. I had an inkling that something like this would happen....seeing as I started feeling much affection for the baby before we even met her. Everyone talks about this but the amount of love you feel for this tiny little creature is overwhelming. What surprised me was just how overwhelming this baby love is and how it didn't kick in immediately.
It didn't hit me immediately when they plopped her on me. There was no happy sobbing like in the movies.... It didn't hit me when they took her away because she was turning blue (though nervous panic hit me then)... It didn't even hit me when they returned her to me and she was fine. It's stupid but in the back of my mind I was worried that something was wrong with me. I didn't cry at any point. After the baby was breathing well and I was finally stitched back together and no longer bleeding profusely, the Doctors and Nurses left us alone. Lowell cried, a lot but I still didn't. I certainly liked the little baby but I was more worried about whether or not I was holding it correctly, how silly I felt having her suck on my empty boobs, whether or not she was breathing well.... But then, there was a moment in the middle of that first awful night at the hospital when it kicked in. The room was painfully hot and cramped, the couples we were sharing with had cranky awful babies and kept turning the room lights on and off all night. I was exhausted, sore and felt awful from not being able to sleep or get comfortable. Lowell and I were sleeping head to toe in the hospital bed because that stupid recliner thing sucks (I'd totally recommend trying that if your partner is stuck in that recliner thing).
Anyway, after everyone turned the lights off and I could hear strangers and Lowell snoring away, I couldn't sleep. I propped myself up, pulled the bassinet close and stuck my face in. I just stared at the baby who was also sleeping... this puffy, stranger baby who was just a few hours old and was our baby. This absolutely perfect baby with her massive head of hair whose little hat kept popping off and was sleeping peacefully while the other babies cried. All of a sudden she pops her eyes wide open and I figure she's going to start wailing, but she doesn't. She just stared back at me for about 2 minutes, yawned and went back to sleep... who knows if she could even see me, but that was when I was head over heels in love. We just needed a minute to ourselves!