Becoming a first-time expectant mom—of twins, no less—has certainly been an eye-opener for me. The realities of pregnancy have regularly caught me by surprise as my amount of responsibility skyrockets and level of energy plummets. The life I had lived and loved for 37 years has begun to change drastically. If you’re finding yourself in the same boat, perhaps you’ll benefit from (and nod your head in agreement with) my observations. And if you’re looking for a little advice, I’d recommend an open mind and lots of laughter (it’s the best medicine after all—and one of the few that’s pregnancy-safe!) as you embrace the changes the next nine months will bring. From one pregnant mom to another, best wishes as you prepare yourself for the transformations ahead!
1. Priority rearrangement.
The minute you find out you’re pregnant, your entire life gets reordered. The ways you work, live and play are all affected by this tiny person you haven’t even met—yet already would do anything for. Addicted to coffee? Love sushi? Own more shoes than closet space to store them? Suddenly, things you once couldn’t live without seem superfluous when they’re a risk to your baby (or when you begin pinching pennies to pay for a car seat, formula and child care). Bid your favorite foods and shopping habits farewell as you prepare to greet motherhood at the door.
2. Morning (and afternoon, and evening) sickness.
For a few lucky folks, morning sickness is just that: a little queasiness in the morning cured by nibbling a few crackers. But for some of us, it happens at other times of day—or even all day, every day. (Science guys have coined a more accurate term, “nausea and vomiting of pregnancy,” but I don’t foresee it catching on anytime soon.) Whatever you call it, the affliction warrants continuous mental notation of the nearest trash bin.
3. Week-by-week obsession.
Modern medicine has documented every little development going on in our bellies, and baby books and the internet help us see them. It’s easy to become preoccupied with the weekly play-by-play, but before you insist on having What to Expect When You’re Expecting surgically attached to your hip, remember that everyone’s pregnancy is different. Use the progress summaries to tune into your body and focus on what’s happening with you, but keep in mind that your doctor is the best person to answer most questions.
4. Hormone invasion (or why the car commercial makes you cry).
OK, so every commercial makes you cry—well, it’s the hormones that really turn on the tears. Tell your husband to stop laughing at you. I don’t know whether our emotions will return to normal once we give birth, but I do hope so since we’ll all have to get rid of cable otherwise.
5. Lackluster lovin’.
Your libido will be a force of nature during your second trimester—or so your friends will tell you. After surviving six weeks of morning sickness, you’ll emerge triumphant and wait for your sex life to return to normal. And wait. And wait. Again, every woman is treated to her own unique prenatal experience, but by the third trimester with a multiple pregnancy, all I really wanted to do was sleep.
6. Physical transformation.
My feet have dimples like a baby’s feet. (At least that’s what I hear … I can’t actually see them anymore.) My belly button has all but disappeared. I can’t roll over. Burping, heartburn, constipation? Welcome to pregnancy.
7. Newfound parental admiration.
My mom was 38 when I was born, with four teenagers already at home. Prior to becoming an expectant woman myself, I had never, ever imagined how being pregnant with me might have radically impacted her life. Mom, thanks—I love you more than I can ever say.
8. Intimate conversation … with strangers.
The co-worker with whom you’ve never exchanged more than a courtesy greeting at the water fountain, the waitress at the local pizza joint, and the person in line behind you at the supermarket will all want to discuss, at length, what used to be private, intimate parts of your body. Are you having a vaginal birth? Are you going to breastfeed? How will you manage nursing twins? How much weight have you gained? Sometimes they’ll also disclose details about themselves that you never, ever wanted to know (like how long it took their episiotomies to heal or when they finally rekindled their sex lives). I personally find these conversations fascinating, but it’s OK to politely decline to answer if you’re particularly modest.
9. Out-of-character cravings.
I hadn’t eaten ketchup in years, but now I can’t eat a fry without it. And I’ve eaten more chocolate in the last few weeks than in my entire life. Trying to eat healthily during pregnancy can be challenging, especially when haywire hankerings come around. Do your best, but allow yourself to indulge every now and then. You’ve earned it.
10. Public restroom reliance.
I offer many thanks to the shopkeepers who have allowed me to use their restrooms lately. Drinking lots of water is essential in pregnancy, but doing so inevitably results in endless treks to the loo. Do what you need to do and don’t be embarrassed to ask for a bathroom. If you don’t go when nature calls, you might embarrass yourself more than you expected!