Five Things I Learned About Pregnancy

This is for all of you soon-to-be moms and someday-to-be moms out there.

When I was pregnant, I read every book, magazine, and pamphlet about pregnancy I could get my hands on. But these things weren’t in them. Or maybe they were, but I don’t remember reading about them, and I ended up learning these lessons the hard way. Maybe you can learn from my experience? Or, just get a good laugh over the things this first-timer didn’t know? In any case…

Five Things I Learned About Pregnancy:  

1. You might lose that “gotta go right now” sensation in your bladder in the last few weeks of your pregancy. (And a short while after giving birth!) TMI? Hope you’re reading this after you’ve had your dinner. Hey, I was completely blindsided by this one, so I’m just throwing the warning out there. I learned this one the embarrassing way. Nooo, I didn’t have an “accident” in the middle of Wal Mart. I did, however, call the hospital in a panic one afternoon a few days before my due date, convinced my water had broken, only to rush in and find out a few tests later that…let’s just say it hadn’t. In my defense, the doctor told me they get several ladies a day who, overly-pregnant and overly-anxious to “get this baby out”, make the same mortifying mistake I did, because in the last trimester it’s quite common to lose sensation in your bladder (you do have a 6+ pound baby sitting on it, you know?) …Or maybe that’s just what they told me because I burst into tears and sobbed, “Has this ever happened before?” I don’t know. The moral of the story: pee often in your last trimester, because your body may or may not decide to tell you when to do so. And, like I did, you should go to the doctor if you have even the slightest concern that your water has broken, just in case. But when your water does break, you will most likely KNOW it. Nothing else in the world feels like it. Unless you’ve ever sat on a giant water ballon.

2. You don’t need to buy a nasal aspirator. You know those booger sucker thingys people with babies always have around? You NEED one. It will be your constant companion during the early newborn days. Your little tyke, having just entered the world and having just begun to get the knack of breathing, will produce a lot of snot in those first few days (if he’s anything like my child) and will have no idea how to breathe through it or get rid of it. This will upset him tremendously. Enter the nasal aspirator. But you don’t need to buy one. You can get one (or six) for free from the hospital. I bought one when I was nine months pregnant for something like ten dollars at Babies R Us, only for it to break when I brought it home and tested it out (not on self). When I had my baby boy, the nurse gave me one to use in the hospital, and it was top-of-the-line! We’re talking the Prada (or something top-of-the-line) of nasal aspirators. But I kept losing it, and every time I did, they’d just give me a new one. Since you can keep pretty much anything you used on your baby that’s not nailed to the hospital room floor (erm…as far as I know) I eventually found them all and ended up going home with six nasal aspirators. Now, I keep one in every room and one in my diaper bag! Sweet. This is also how I acquired the baby’s cute little hair brush and comb, and a really nifty water bottle that holds 24oz!  

3. As soon as you go into labor, EAT SOMETHING! My water broke at 1:50 in the morning (that’s 8 hours after dinner), and contractions started a half-hour later at less than 5 minutes apart, and never let up. I thought, “This is it. We gotta go to the hospital. I should eat something.” But I didn’t. I was too excited. Fast forward to 12 hours later, I still hadn’t eaten anything (because if you get an epidural, they won’t let you!) and the nurse is telling me, “Your baby is coming! PUSH!”, to which I was responding “I can’t push I’m HUNGRY!”So she switched gears from “picture your baby coming with each push” to “picture getting closer to being able to have lunch with each push”, and that kinda did the trick. Baby arrived. It was beautiful and miraculous and indescribable. Then they brought lunch. But all I could eat was crackers because I was so nauseous from NOT EATING for over 20 hours! Lesson learned. Next baby, I’m stopping at McDonald’s on the way to the hospital.

4. In case of a “red flag” during your ultrasound, don’t let the tech, or your doctor, scare you. There are certain markers that can be detected during your baby’s ultrasound that indicate an increase in the likelihood of Down syndrome, or other abnormalities. I am not anywhere near an expert on this issue, and I don’t want to imply that I have any educated information about it that should replace the information given by your doctor, genetic counselor, etc, on this serious issue, but I have had experience with it as a patient/pregnant mother, and I understand how frightening it can be to be told (very solemnly) that your baby has a “marker”, and that you will need to see a “genetic counselor”. I want to point out that the doctor, genetic counselor, and/or ultrasound technician’s job is to take this issue extremely seriously. Not only is it apart of their job, but they could easily be sued if they did not take any “red flag” seriously, and go out of their way to inform you of all of the possibilities related to it. When I was pregnant, the ultrasound technician informed me that there are at least six “red flags” or markers that are connected to an increased likelihood of Down syndrome. Some are considered more “serious” markers than others. My son had a “less serious” marker, called a “bright spot”, on his heart. This was likely a calcium build-up or other material that shows up brightly on an ultrasound, and many, many babies have these bright spots and are not born with Down syndrome. When the technician discovered this marker, she went from very jovial to very serious. She literally shut down, and would not answer any of my questions beyond telling me that she saw a marker and I must see a genetic counselor. It frightened me, until I realized that it is her job to take the marker seriously, and (no matter what her opinion was about the severity of the situation or the likelihood that Down syndrome was present) treat it the same way she would treat any other marker or indication, basically to avoid being sued. Imagine if the ultrasound technician had simply said, “your baby has a marker that is connected to Down syndrome, but it’s not very likely that he has it, and I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.” If my son had ended up with Down syndrome, I might have sued her for not taking the situation seriously and properly informing me about the possibility, with facts and statistics, of my son having Down syndrome, so that I could make the proper preparations for the arrival of my baby. What I’m trying to explain is that, your doctor may, at some point during your pregnancy, frighten you to pieces with some sort of “marker” for something or other. It is good that they take these things seriously. But you should understand that it’s not something you should lose sleep over, no matter how serious the doctor and technician treat the situation, until you have seen the genetic counselor they send you to. This is the person who is authorized to talk more candidly with you about the facts, statistics, etc, to help you understand how concerned or unconcerned you should be. This person is actually allowed to answer any questions you may have, with less concern about being sued, because they are a specialist. My husband was another one of those babies who was found to have some sort of “marker”, and his parents were actually advised to terminate the pregnancy. I’m pretty glad they chose not to. 🙂

5. You know all those old wive’s tales about how to naturally induce labor? They don’t work! I know because I tried them all. But that won’t stop you from trying them all too. A switch goes off in our brains in the last few days of pregnancy, where we go from thinking “Pregnancy is so much fun!” to waking up every day thinking “Uggggh I’m still pregnant? How do I get this baby out of here?” Watch the episode of Friends called “The One Where Rachel is Late” and you’ll know exactly what to expect.

…Stay tuned for “Five Things I Learned About Newborns”

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)    

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