A few things I have learned about pregnancy this time around…

1. It doesn’t always matter what happened the last time you were pregnant, that doesn’t mean the next one will be anything like what you have already experienced. The more pregnancy and birth stories I hear, the more it rings true. Just like no two people are the same, no two pregnancies are the same. There is always something different, and sometimes those differences are HUGE.

2. Guessing right while pregnant isn’t a super power.  The idea that pregnancy gives a woman a magical ability that grants some kind of sixth sense sounds great, and it probably makes pregnancy seem more magical and miraculous than it feels when you have what has to be a little jackhammer in there pounding on your innards, but highly emotional doesn’t equal highly insightful. Guessing the gender of your baby before you find out what it is doesn’t count as super pregnant spidey sense. There are only two possible options. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to guess right when you have a 50% chance.

3. Peeing will become an olympic sport. There are times you will have to bend, twist, distort, and balance your body in ways you never thought you could with a bowling ball attached to your abdomen. THIS is a real pregnancy super power, and it becomes necessary at some point in almost every pregnancy just to get the pee to come out. Even if you have to pee REALLY REALLY BAD.

4. Never fool yourself into thinking you are in charge and making the decisions. Until that kid is old enough to understand exactly what you are saying to it, all control belongs exclusively to them. Any decision that you make regarding your birth plan, labor and delivery, and the first few months of that babies life that actually DO go according to your plan only go that way because the BABY decided that it was a suitable plan. If you accept that now, you will feel like less of a failure when things crumble, and at some point they WILL crumble.

5. Any parent that tells you that they had zero trouble getting pregnant, a perfect pregnancy, and the exact pain-free perfect delivery that they always imagined is a liar. There is no need to call them a liar, however. Just know that this fantasy of perfection they have created in their head is most likely a facade to mask the disappointment they feel over the loss of control that their precious bundles of joy cause them to feel when they ruin all of their meticulous plans.

6. Pregnancy HURTS. As magical as making a new life is, and it is indeed a profoundly incredible experience, it fucking hurts. It is not supposed to be a day at the spa. It is SUPPOSED to hurt. Especially at the end. It is also important to note that it is normal to feel an increase in the aches, pains, pressure, and overall ickiness the further along you get. The life inside of you is doing unspeakable things to your insides. If you didn’t feel all of that you wouldn’t be a human being. This does not mean that your baby is done cooking, ready to come out, or needs to evacuate early. It means they are growing like they should which is a GOOD thing. This leads me to the most important thing I have learned…

7. Never take any precious day of gestation for granted. No matter how easily you got pregnant, how symptom free or symptom laden pregnancy is, how early you or someone else in your family was born/gave birth, how uncomfortable you are, how anxious you are to see your baby, or how well someone else’s baby did even though they were born early… Every day closer to your due date that you get with that baby still in your belly is a BLESSING. Through all of the morning sickness, aches, pains, breathing problems, heartburn, pressure, back problems, shooting vag pain, sleepless nights, joint spreading issues, contractions, or any other uncomfortable or downright painful symptom you have, if you can make it to 40 weeks then you are one of the lucky ones. Setting your sights on a 37 week delivery date for your baby when your due date is 40 weeks will not only set yourself up for disappointment if it doesn’t happen, but if you actively TRY to evict that baby before you reach your due date and they aren’t ready, it could rob your child of those last few important weeks when a lot of the essential organ development happens. Even if the baby has a 99% chance of survival outside the womb at 37 weeks gestation, even a 1% chance that your baby could die is worth keeping them in a little longer. I guarantee, it isn’t suddenly easier to deal with a baby when they can’t control their body temperature, have issues eating, or have digestive issues that cause them extremely painful reflux (things that a few more weeks in the womb could have greatly effected) than it is to deal with a few more weeks of pregnancy.

So far this pregnancy I have known three women who have given birth to their babies prematurely. Two of them died shortly after birth. The third is in the NICU and struggles with issues daily that would break any mother’s heart to watch their child go through. That mother will not be able to bring her baby home with her for MONTHS. All three of these women would have endured every single bit of pain that other women complain about just to have a few more days of gestation and give their babies a better chance than they had. The pain of 40 weeks of pregnancy is NOTHING compared to the pain of losing your child, and because of that, anyone who is lucky enough to make it to the end should never take that for granted.

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