Photo taken by Belkis Cruz Photography
Being a mother is the most rewarding job I’ve been granted. It’s been about 15 months. It’s hard work, the hours are continuous, the job touches every corner of my life, and there are no vacations or sick days, but the amount of work that goes in is directly proportional to the amount of happiness received.
Motherhood and pregnancy is often glamorized and I just wanted to touch on some of the things about pregnancy that no one ever tells you about. Books often put it very mildly and women never seem to want to talk about the ugly embarrassing part of it. Well today is your lucky day. I clearly have no shame so I will be divulging this priceless information.
This post isn’t just for the ladies who are expecting or thinking about getting pregnant. I’m talking to the men too. The sooner you understand what a woman goes through, the easier that 10 months will be for you. I have to really commend my husband, he is so patient and kind. He has got to be the most understanding man I’ve ever met.
So let’s talk about body changes. Obviously you get bigger and the weight gain is scary fast. Your boobs grow into planets and cause back pain. This is common knowledge I think. What people don’t like talking about are those pesky stretch marks. There are some wonderful people (like my mother) who never get a single stretch mark. That’s just luck of the draw, ladies. No amount of cocoa butter or bio-oil is going to save you from these bad boys, if you’re meant to get them. I took cocoa butter baths and still ended up with a smattering of tiny little marks around my belly button. The best part was that I didn’t get them until a few weeks before my son was born. I almost thought I had made it! I was really worried about this part before I got pregnant. Oh, how vain we are! But you know what? Now when I see my stretch marks I am actually fine with it. They are a reminder of the sacrifices I made for my sweet boy. They remind me of what a miracle we’ve been blessed with. At first they are an angry red and seem a lot worse than they are, but eventually they fade into shimmery ribbons and then it’s like having sparkly tiger accents on your body. And who doesn’t love animal print?!
Almost right after I found out I was pregnant I had some serious back pain. Some days I wondered if I’d even be able to walk around and function. I went to the doctor and told her and pointed to my lower back and she says ‘Oh yea, that’s normal’ Be prepared to hear this every time you complain about anything. What I’ve gathered is that no matter what happens and how weird it is, it’s normal during pregnancy. Oh, your face turned dark, that’s normal. Oh, your feet look like you’ve got elephantiasis, that’s normal. Oh, you’ve had diarrhea for 8 months straight, that’s normal. However, if your gut is telling you something isn’t right, ask your doctor, get it checked out. My back pain ended up being SI Joint displacement. Which means that the point where my hip connects to my spine was dislocating spontaneously. It hurt like hell and at times if I laid down I couldn’t get back up. I also got severe migraines on and off. It’s all part of the ride.
You know that long beautiful hair that people look forward to during pregnancy. That happens everywhere. Hair and nail growth increase during pregnancy. So while I was cutting my fingernails every other day, I was also having to shave just as often. It’s annoying because at first everything’s normal and then you have this juice belly in your way and you can’t quite reach your legs. Then you have this huge belly and can’t even see your feet. At some point I just said oh well and turned into the Amazon woman. However this wonderful lady named Monica dipped me in wax and took care of the issue. Speaking of waxing. If you don’t do it regularly, then as you approach your due date, go get a Brazilian wax. You will thank me later. Not only is everyone in your business the day you go into labor, but healing afterwards is much easier when you don’t have stubble trying to fight its way out past staples and stitches. I had a c-section so my healing process was different, but it’s all much easier sans fur.
Let’s talk about the brain for a bit. I typically have a very good memory and during pregnancy that was no where to be found. They call it “baby brain” because during pregnancy the energy is concentrated on “baby tracking” and developing those crazy mom instincts you’ve probably experienced with your own mother. There would be times where mid sentence I would completely forget what I was talking about. This one time I was on one side of the bed and needed something from my night stand so I walk to the other side and totally forgot what I needed. It’s bad. I would get funny looks and impatient stares, but oh well, I’m busy growing a person, I don’t care.
People become extremely familiar during pregnancy. I would go to the grocery store and have complete strangers come rub my belly. Sometimes they would just ask me when I was due and if I knew the sex, and just when I think I’ll get away without being touched, they reach out and pat my belly. Total strangers!! Pregnancy brings out the angel in everyone. People were so nice to me. I would get to sit down or eat when I wanted. It was wonderful. People were so worried about whether I was tired, hungry, thirsty, stressed, etc. It’s funny, people are so worried about stressing out a pregnant person, but if anything I was so much more calm during my pregnancy. Those that know me well, know I don’t get stressed and I’m a very go-with-the-flow kind of person. During pregnancy, I was even more so. I honestly thought it would have me on edge and I’d heard about mood swings, but that didn’t happen to me. I felt normal. The only thing that changed was I felt more compassionate and I would cry often. Commercials, really nice people, sweet stories, my husband being really kind and thoughtful…all these things made me tear up. I know each women is different so just based on people I know and what’s worked for them-meditation, yoga, pilates, keeping fit, eating healthy, these are ways they stayed relaxed.
Be prepared for the onslaught of unsolicited advice. I knew this was going to happen, but I didn’t know to what extent. I’m not really sure what compels people to get so involved, but they do. Hopefully they’ll just give you the advice and leave it alone. Some get really offended if you don’t take their advice, just nod and smile and do things the way you feel is right for you. Every child is different and every family is different. You have to make decisions based on your child, your family, and what balances with your values and life rules. Don’t shut your ears to the advice though, sometimes there’s valuable information there. Being a parent puts you on stage. People judge your life and your parenting without even knowing you or your situation. It’s frustrating and so ignorant, but that’s life. Have faith in your abilities and keep your goals in mind.
Men: If you can just listen, comfort, and support you are golden. Don’t take things personally, this woman that you once knew will return, her body is being taken over for some months. Rub her feet/back, tell her she’s beautiful, love her, be patient and kind, you get the picture. It can be frustrating and confusing. You may not understand her feelings for the baby growing inside of her, mainly because most men don’t feel attached to the baby until they actually see it and hold it. That’s totally normal. My husband could feel the kick on the outside but he couldn’t feel the kick on the inside. It’s two different things. I could see my husband falling in love with this baby or perhaps the idea of it, but it finally came together the day our son was born. Do nice things no matter how insane: I’ll never forget the time I was craving birthday cake and Jayesh ran to Cub in the middle of the night to get some. He called me sounding worried “They don’t have marble, do you want me to try another store?” What a wonderful man he is. He even patiently drove around to 3 different stores to find me real chicken nuggets. Well that was more him than me. You see the minute we found out I was pregnant Jayesh became this super protective version of himself. He’d keep me away from high fructose corn syrup, tons of sugar, processed foods, etc. I craved sweet and he would gently tell me to try and control the craving. He made sure I took my vitamins and ate healthy and stayed active. He was as involved as he could be. I can only imagine how hard it was on him to pick up the slack around the house. He would clean so I wouldn’t inhale fumes and let me relax after work while he whipped up some delicious meals. Men, just because you aren’t carrying the baby doesn’t mean you don’t play a role in the whole process. I remember in the evenings we would lay in bed and Jayesh would talk to my belly and tell it stories. He would idly rest his hand on my belly- protectively, lovingly…it melts my heart. If you could see them together now…peas in a pod!
As loving, patient, and protective as Jayesh was to me, he’s about 10x more to our son. He is such an amazing father. I know, I’m gushing.
LABOR! I had a million questions about labor. Most of which I just couldn’t ask. Some of my friends were kind enough to give me every detail and paint this horrific picture of what I was about to go through. Then my mom said the most intelligent thing ever and put all my fears aside. “You want this baby more than anything right? Well this is what you have to go through to get it. There’s no way around it, it’s just the way it is. Deal with it.” Simple, but so true. All of a sudden I had perspective. It’s just the way it is. No use in worrying about the pain or getting an epidural. It all seemed like such little payment for the blessing we were about to receive.
I spent most of my time in labor watching movies and joking around with family. My husband, mother, and mother-in-law were in the labor room with me. I ended up having no pain at all, pushed for 3 hours and was finally told that my pelvis is too narrow to allow the baby to pass through so they’d have to do a c-section. I was terrified to hear it because that wasn’t the plan and I wasn’t expecting to be cut open. I’d never had surgery in my life. They prepped me by numbing me from the chest down-scary feeling. They draped me in the OR and allowed my husband to be with me. I laid there with my arms out straight out to the sides. I couldn’t feel anything, I just remember it being hard to breathe and it was a real effort. The anesthesiologist told me that was because of the drugs. They pulled out my son and took him to clean up and weigh and all that. Then when they were closing me up there was a whole LOT of movement. Like violently being shaken about. It was really scary and made me wonder what the heck was going on behind the drapes but finally they just wrapped me in blankets and I was able to see my son for the first time. My husband brought him over and I just couldn’t believe my eyes. There was this tiny little guy that I’ve been obsessing over. With tears in our eyes we just couldn’t stop grinning at each other. The only other time I’ve seen that look on my husband’s face was our wedding day. I can’t describe the feeling, it’s overwhelming and so exciting. At the same time it’s just surreal like you’re dreaming. You’ve been imagining this baby for months and now it’s finally here and all yours.
The change is profound.
Pregnancy isn’t easy, everything changes. Your body doesn’t look the same, you can’t seem to remember ANYTHING, your boobs are borderline scary, you either lose your hair or grow 10x the amount…AH! I would do all of it 5 times over just to have my little angel in my life. Although things aren’t easy anymore, and no one gets to sleep in, there is meaning to everything. One little person who can barely do anything for himself, has done so much for me. He gave my life meaning.