Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What I Learned From Pregnancy

Holy crud, it's so crazy to think that George will be one next week!  Seriously, how did that happen?!  I guess he's huge, so it shouldn't be THAT surprising.  By man, where did that time go?  We were at the hospital multiple times this weekend to see Ben and Kaydee's new baby girl and it seriously felt like Brad and I were in there doing the same thing like a month ago.  Man, it's insane.

I've been thinking a lot about my pregnancy with George and his birth.  Really, this past year has had me reflecting back on my birth experience a lot.  One thing I've realized it how much I've learned about my own experience in the year following it.  Having friends and family have babies, comparing the details, chatting it out with one another--it's interesting how much you learn from that.  And so, without further ado, here is what I learned from pregnancy.

1.  There are parts of your pregnancy where you may wonder how in the heck you'll ever want to have a second child.  I remember thinking this as was barfing uncontrollably in the toilet after feeling so nauseated the past few months that I literally couldn't move.  And, scratch that, I was just thinking it--I was crying this thought to Brad.  I basically remember sobbing, "I don't want to be pregnant anymore!  I don't want to do this!"  True story.  Also, barfing into a bag that only leaked on me was fun.  And then the terrible, no good hip pain.
2.  There are parts of your pregnancy that you feel like you could have twelve children and love it.  The end of my second trimester and the majority of my third was just awesome.  I felt like I was extremely good looking as a pregnant lady at that point, I had gained hardly any weight, wearing my pre-pregnancy pants, I was rocking it.  I felt amazing.  Post-birth sort of fixed most of that but actually made me miss pregnancy because having a belly is sort of super cute when there's a baby in there!
3.  Even just three weeks of having nothing to do is no bueno when you're pregnant.  Trust me, stay busy.  Oh my gosh.  I went to 41-weeks, and from 38-weeks till birth I had no job because I was done with school and as such my student job as well.  Those three weeks killed all the success I had previously had at being semi-healthy.  I literally gained like twenty extra pounds in those three weeks.  But I had nothing to do!  It was super hot so I didn't like being outside, Brad was at work, and Pinterest existed so I just sort of... baked.  All the time.  And then ate it.  It was until those three weeks that I realized how much exercise I had been getting walking to work and how seriously I eat most when I'm bored.  Yep.  Lesson learned.
4.  Everyone's pregnancy is completely different.  Honestly, talking to other people about their pregnancies never made me feel any better about how my pregnancy was going at the beginning.  Seriously.  I was just like, "Let's not do this again."  I seriously thought pregnancy experiences were genetic or something, so I assumed I'd have super awesome easy pregnancies like my mom.  Um, no.  No you won't, Heather.  But in the end I realized that (almost) every girl has the part of their pregnancy to brag about and the part that they want to skip.  In my case, that was the beginning.
5.  Not every girl "nests" or, you know, preps at all.  I was terrible.  I took zero birthing classes.  George had no semblance of a bedroom.  No joke, even with an induction date, time, and place I still packed my hospital bag at the last second in an Xbox backpack.  True story.  In that twelve seconds of packing, I for some reason packed a super tight shirt that was terrible pre-baby let alone post-baby and neglected pack anything else beyond the clothes I came in (and, you know, was in the hospital for four days), did not pack a brush, no pillows (and hospital pillows are pretty terrible), barely remembered a blanket for Bradley to use, brought "going home" outfits for George that were 3-6 months so they were monster huge (luckily my mom made him a onesie and brought it the day we were checking out), among many, many other things.  And you know what?  So did not matter.  We had the car seat, a debit card, and deodorant.  Seriously, that's all we needed.  The hospital even provided toiletries like shampoo and conditioner and, well, basically everything else.  And George doesn't care even now that I still have yet to decorate his room like, at all.
6.  Pregnancy will never be what you expect it to be.  This sort of rings back to number four, but again I expected my pregnancy to be a lot different than it was.  Half of which I was grateful for and half of which was surprising in both good and bad ways.  I'm still pretty disappointed that I didn't have freaky cravings like the desire to lick a tire (my friend had that, true story) or the sudden need to mix caramel and cucumbers or something.  Nope, just wanted cheeseburgers.  All.  The.  Time.
7.  Birth will never be entirely what you expect it to be (especially if it's your first time).  As I said before, I hardly made any plans as to how my birth would go.  I sort of new from the beginning that I'd be having a c-section, but there were other things that birth surprised me with.  For one, did you know that you swell for two to three days after giving birth?  Yeah, that's lovely.  Especially when it compounds with the millions of gallons of salt they're pumping into you through an IV.  Yeah, those go REALLY well together.  I was monstrous by Friday in the hospital--just so incredibly swollen.  The pictures are very sad.  It looks painful.  But I was drugged, so what did I know.  Also, you may still fit into your pre-pregnancy pants right before you give birth.  But some terrible black magic hits post-birth and suddenly your thighs don't even fit into them, let alone your hips.  Pretty sure all the belly weight dropped down there or something.  Like, it was previously sitting on top of George (which, thank you, baby boy) and so when he was out it was all like, "Oh, welp, better move south where we belong."  Slowly working that jank off.  Also, let's mention the breaking of the water.  So much blood.  And apparently baby poo, because that came out when George was in distress.  Birth is not clean, let's put it that way.
8.  The hospital can be a freaking wonderful experience.  I don't know about you, but I appreciated so much having those full four days to live in la-la-land.  Even still in my mind, my entire experience in the hospital is this beautiful, white, shiny picture.  Just me, Brad, and George.  Getting acquainted.  Having nurses there to help me with the stress that is breastfeeding at any time of the day or night.  And they were wonderful!  So sweet with George, so careful, and just so helpful.  I loved my experience.  And the food?  Loved it.  I loved ordering and eating my food.  Seriously.  But that drink machine?  Oh holy crap.  Amazing.  I miss it.  I miss endless amounts of grape juice in rabbit turd ice.  Just beautiful.  But the highlight is just that little break from reality we were able to have before getting back to real life, where we first became a family, first became parents.
9.  All methods of birth are awesome.  Lots of people sort of give me this, "Oh wow, you're so strong!" vibe when we talk about my c-section.  But dude, I have to say that I'm so grateful to have had a c-section.  My sister-in-law when through hours of pushing.  Pushing where the epidural wore off.  Pushing that I know is hard, even though I did only a couple tries of it.  Yes, a c-section requires your body to be cut open, organs pulled out, pushed around, your veins cut and cauterized, and it all sounds very terrible.  But my son didn't have to endure the birth canal, he came out so perfect and pristine.  He was so beautiful!  And I love that.  I love that I didn't have to push because it sucked.  So hard.  No matter how you have a baby, it's rough.  But Heavenly Father definitely knows what you can handle.  And for me, that was a c-section.  I'm grateful for it every day.  And I love that.  I hope that no woman regrets how her baby came into the world.  Every way is hard.  Epidural, no epidural, vaginally, c-section--all of it takes a tole on our bodies.  I love the way that George came into this world and I'm excited to go elective c-section next time!
10.  Opinions can be your worst enemy.  People don't mean to, but many of them will offer their opinion, and a lot of the time it's going to be done in such a way that'll make you feel bad.  About a range of topics, including something as mediocre as whether you're using a binky or not or whether or not you swaddle your kid.  And this is all pre-birth.  Seriously.  People are going to ask you weird questions and then offer their opinions.  They'll make you feel bad about things you haven't thought of and convince you that you need to think about them.  Best part?  It only gets worse after you have the baby.  At least, that's how it was for me.  In the end, you have to learn that there's no fail-safe to raising a kid.  There are so many books and articles and websites and whatever and none of them can tell you everything you want to know.  The best (and worst) part of parenting, which starts when you're pregnant, is that you learn as you go.
11.  The first look at your body post-birth will take your breath out of you for a while.  I had stretch marks everywhere.  Even finally shrinking down to not-five-months-pregnant size the marks were still so red, and being all bunched together after being stretched apart for so long was the worst.  The saggy belly is difficult to get used to, too.  Especially when it does that scary people-of-Walmart thing where it sags around your belly button.  It was hard to love that body for a while.  It's still hard even a year later!  But you learn so much from that body.  I learned that all those stupid "flat stomach" crap that I would pin or gaze over was stupid.  The thigh gap?  So dumb.  All just so worthless in the sight of this body.  What I learned was that my worth was so much more than that.  What this body and a husband who loved it for all that had become was that I was beautiful--then and now.  I had criticized my body so much pre-pregnancy and here I would be, missing it for it's "skinniness".  It was at that point that I realized that I'm always going to believe that I'm fat or lumpy or whatever if I don't change my outlook.  So, I've learned to love this body.  I've begun loving this body because I'm taking of care of it.  I'm aware of it, of what it can do, of what I want it to do again.  And that empowers me to look at it and feel proud.  To see all those scars and embrace them.  They're so light now.  I'm so grateful for what they mean, for what my body was able to do and for what it will hopefully be able to do again a few more times over.  I know what it really is to love my body now, and it has nothing to do with those stretch marks.

So, yeah.  Next time, I'm bringing a pillow to the dang hospital.  And possibly a brush, but that's up in the air.  But most of all, I'm just going to embrace everything pregnancy gives me.  Because really, no matter how hard it can be, for some reason you miss it.  For some crazy reason, you do want to do it again.  But for me, the thing I really want to do-over is that aftermath.  I don't want to be so hard on myself but I also don't want to live in denial for so long or pretend that my body will magically be normal again.  It took some time for it to get that way.  It took an incredibly traumatic experience for it to get that way.  I remember exercising for the first time and being unable to do super easy and basic yoga moves that I've being doing since I was sixteen.  That's when it really hit me--my body had gone through a lot.  It can take a lot to help it get back to normal.  And that's okay.  More than okay!  I've spent a lot of time being mad at myself that I haven't been able to return to a normal muscle mass and weight and pant size sooner.  But I shouldn't be.  And that's what I want to do different next time, that's really the biggest lesson I learned and that I don't want to forget for the next round of this.

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