Here’s what I wish I’d known about being pregnant and having a baby.
Pregnancy brain does not apply to everyone. I kept hearing that pregnancy caused forgetfulness or momnesia, but I was never in a fog during pregnancy. Tired, absolutely. Unable to focus and concentrate, not really. Probably because my job demanded a lot from me, I didn’t have time to make mistakes and redo shit.
Go on a babymoon. I’m all for vacations, specifically one big vacation before the baby arrives. We didn’t really have time for one and I regret that. There’s a lot of talk about birthing classes and lactation consultants. I say forget that stuff and go on a babymoon. You’ll never have a chance to sleep in again!
Setup a registry on Amazon. I can’t believe I considered not registering for anything. I figured we could simply buy everything ourselves. But friends and family will want to help, so do yourself a favor and register. Everyone seems to have an Amazon account these days which makes registering on that site convenient for everyone.
The best indicator of when you are going to deliver may be genetic. Apparently first time moms tend to deliver past their due date. I honed in on this metric, even though my mom and sister both delivered a week to 10 days early. My life would have been much easier if I had planned around when my own family members delivered.
Work until you deliver. I’m a proponent of working until the baby comes. It kept me from stressing too much over the pregnancy and labor. Otherwise I would have spent my days counting kicks and obsessing over minor details like nursery decorations. Also it doesn’t hurt to get paid your full salary versus a fraction of it through state disability.
During labor and delivery, you will shake violently. I read how many pregnancy books and blogs, subscribed to several pregnancy newsletters, and not once did anyone mention that I was going to have the shivers. I thought there was something wrong with me (like I was potentially dying), until the nurse told me that everyone has that experience due to the rush of hormones.
Ask for supplies and take everything from the hospital. Someone did tell me this and I’m glad I took it to heart. You’re paying for it; take it: sanitary napkins, diapers, wipes, vaseline, medical supplies. Ask for more. We took all that loot home.
Labor is nothing compared to post partum pain. I was told I had level 2 lacerations (level 4 being the worst) with cuts near my urethra and rectum. Considering I have a high pain threshold, I cannot even imagine what level 4 feels like. If I could only go through labor and not have to deal with post partum pain, I could imagine having a soccer club of babies. But I was in so much pain a good week post-delivery that getting pregnant again is the furthest thing from my mind.
Be prepared for your hospital bill! Know what your health insurance’s out of pocket maximum is because you will be paying it. Mine is $4,000. By the time I gave birth, I’d already paid $2,300 out of pocket. The hospital called me to collect the remaining $1,700. Even though we have the money, I still cringed when I got the call. I asked if it could be paid in installments. Of course not!
Your employer will disown you during maternity leave. I’ve been with my company for 10 years. My life is pretty much commingled with work. For example, they pay my cell phone bill and all of my contacts and calendar items (both personal and professional) are in Outlook. Unbeknownst to me, all of my work access was deactivated. My Blackberry did a complete reboot and I no longer have access to any of my contacts. In other words, I can’t make a phone call without emailing someone and asking for their phone number. It has been a big pain in the ass.
Lastly, this is a message for visitors.
Be helpful. In no way should you be inconveniencing parents who are sleep-deprived. That means holding the baby for an extended period of time, offering to run errands…anything but hanging out and expecting to be entertained. It’s hard to say no to visitors since you’re clearly home and have no excuse to give, but some of the visits have been more stressful than they should have been.