Lesson 3: Morning sickness (there’s no real lesson here—it sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it)

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was already 6 weeks along and thrilled that I had yet to experience any morning sickness whatsoever. I mean, 6 whole weeks and no nausea! That probably meant I’d never get it. I had this morning sickness thing beat.

Until I didn’t.

And by about 5 days after I found out I was pregnant, I most certainly didn’t. And I don’t know what asshole coined it morning sickness, because that crap lasts all. day. long.

But before Morning Sickness ever introduced its lovely self to me, Extreme Hunger did. The first time I felt the urge to eat the entire contents of the refrigerator came the morning after I found out I was pregnant. But I sat there refusing to eat, because I had already eaten breakfast. And I wasn’t going to eat again. I was convinced that this was just my brain making me think I was hungry because now I knew I was pregnant. After all, I didn’t feel this hunger yesterday morning, before I knew about Baby. And how much could really change over night? It was a trick designed to make me fat, and I wasn’t falling for it.

Until I did.

And I did so much that I gained 4 pounds by the time I had my first OB appointment. My doctor told me I should gain 25-30 pounds throughout my pregnancy, which left me wondering: Do those first 4 pounds count? She doesn’t even know about those. I could gain 34 pounds and she’d only think I gained 30, and then I’d get an ‘A’ as a patient! Yes! But I’d be cheating—so yes, I counted those first 4 pounds.

Now back to the morning sickness, which, like I said, reared its ugly little head around the time I was 7 weeks pregnant. And it lingered all day long. For me, it wasn’t that I threw up all that much (I think I could have handled that, and probably wouldn’t have gained those sneaky 4 pounds); instead, I experienced dizziness all day, like being carsick. My doctor prescribed Zofran, but it didn’t help much and I remember being miserable for the entire beginning of my pregnancy. Which makes me wonder, why do I look back and think, “Oh my God! I loved being pregnant?!” and I’m not lying to myself when I think that. How does that work? I don’t know, but I simultaneously was miserable and loved being pregnant.

I spent my first trimester trying all the tricks that people told me would help: eat first thing in the morning, before your feet even touch the floor; eat ginger; drink ginger ale. So I kept ginger cookies in my nightstand drawer, and every morning when the alarm went off my fantastic husband walked sleepily down the hall to the kitchen, made me a glass of cold ginger ale, and brought it to me in bed. I followed the instructions of my helpful friends very carefully, and I ate my cookies and drank my ginger ale before my feet ever touched the floor. Then I got up, ran to the bathroom, and puked.

I nibbled on saltine crackers (“make sure your stomach is never empty!”) all day long, and not one time did it curve my motion sickness. I chewed sugar-free gum, sucked on lemons, took my prenatal vitamin at night instead of in the morning. And still, I was dizzy. There was never a time that I wasn’t dizzy, but there were times when I was able to ignore it more than at other times.

I told myself all day long, “This is good! You feel like crap, but this is good because it means your body is producing enough hormones to keep Baby healthy. This. Is. Good.” And then I threw up.

I spent my first trimester counting down to my second. The second trimester would be awesome! I would look pregnant rather than bloated! I could tell the world we were expecting a baby! And I wouldn’t be sick anymore!

Wrong. Week one of my 2nd trimester passed and I was still sick. Week 2 passed and I was yelling to anybody who would listen, “What the hell?! Didn’t my body get the memo that we’re now in the 2nd trimester?!”

And then one day I woke up and, just like that, I felt amazing! I could eat and drink whenever I wanted, I could brush my teeth without puking in the sink, I could read a book without feeling dizzy. What the hell was everybody complaining about? Pregnancy rocked!

And that lasted for all of 3 weeks. On to the 3rd trimester, and I was back to puking all the time (and now every time I puked, I was pissing my pants! Awesome!), but it didn’t even bother me. I wasn’t feeling dizzy, so I could handle it. Throwing up just became a normal part of my day. Whatever.

So the only advice I have for you is that morning sickness will last no longer than 9 months. It will pass, and you’ll adjust until it does. Every time you feel that familiar urge to puke up your guts, just remind yourself that those evil hormones that are making you feel so awful, are the same ones that are making your baby healthy. At least you might smile to yourself while you vomit. I know I did.

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Lesson 2: Join a community

I may have gotten just a bit ahead of myself in my last post, because registering for your baby is probably not the first thing you’re going to do right after you piss on a stick and get that big positive sign. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I did was laugh, scream a few curse words, laugh again, and finally sit on the floor of my bathroom and cry (tears of joy!). We hadn’t been trying long (just 4 months), but I was beyond thrilled to find out I was pregnant. Maybe you were too, or maybe you weren’t.

I had it all planned out in my head how I would tell my husband, but that went straight to the pooper in all of my excitement. I gave him a few lies to get him to come home from work early, but when that didn’t work I just burst out with the news. As soon as he came home, we made the phone calls and told the family and a few very close friends, but we wanted to keep it mostly to ourselves at least until after the first trimester. I got a recommendation for an OB-GYN, made an appointment, and was disappointed to find out she wouldn’t be able to see me for several more weeks. What if the test was wrong? What if I got all excited only to discover that I wasn’t really pregnant? All of those fears were, of course, unfounded because it’s virtually impossible to get a positive on an at-home pregnancy test if you’re not actually pregnant. But still, I took another just to be sure. Still pregnant!

So after telling the few people we knew we’d tell right from the start and making the obligatory OB-GYN appointment I was still bursting with excitement and couldn’t tell anybody, couldn’t share this most wonderful news. I was dying to spill it!

I soon discovered what would be my support-group all through pregnancy, the ladies I would share my excitement, fears, frustrations, joy and obsession with. I joined a Due Date Club on Babyzone. At first I just lurked a bit, reading their posts, not imagining I could ever really connect with people I hadn’t actually met. After all, they weren’t “real people,” right? They were imaginary beings in my computer box. I was definitely skeptical.

But eventually I started replying to posts and, finally, making posts of my own. I already had wonderful mom friends in my everyday life who were ready and willing to let me gush about my excitement, offer great advice, and answer my questions. But it was so nice to find a group of women who were going through the same thing as me at the exact same time. We were pregnant together, gave birth together, and struggled together through those first few weeks of learning to care for a newborn. We talked each other through breastfeeding problems at 2am, assured those who were unable to breastfeed their babies that formula would, in fact, not poison them, helped each other through the inevitable arguments you’re absolutely going to have with your spouse during this time, encouraged one another that, yes, you are going to survive during these sleep-deprived nights and yes, you are being the best mom you can possibly be. We rejoiced in each babies’ “firsts” together; we cried together when our maternity leaves ended and we had to send our babies to daycare and go back to work; we celebrated our babies’ first birthdays together. We became close friends, even though most of us had never met face-to-face. We called each other, texted each other, and moved our group of girlfriends to a private group on Facebook, for easier access to one another. Some of us are even lucky enough to visit each other from time to time, to have a play date during the day, then drink wine and have girl time late into the night.

Maybe an online community isn’t for you, and that’s ok. But I encourage you to find somebody you can lean on during this time when your entire life is changing. Join a mommy group in your home town, join one online, do whatever you have to do to ensure yourself the support you’re going to need. Because I can promise you, you’re going to have some (mostly) irrational fears and there is nothing more reassuring than a group of women who can talk you off the ledge and reassure you that you’re not the first new mom to worry that the baby is going to fall out if you strain too hard to poop.

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Your first lesson in parenthood: Baby registries

It’s interesting that one of the things I struggled with the most when it came to making my baby registry is still one of my biggest parenting struggles: I knew people (other parents) were going to judge. Some people were going to take a look at my registry and think, “Really? You don’t need that. You just think you do. No, you need this instead” or “That’s silly” or “frivolous.” In my head, there would be much eye-rolling and head-shaking at the items my husband and I had so carefully selected for our baby.

Did any of that happen? Maybe. I don’t know. Nobody ever said a word to us about our selections. Instead they purchased our selected items and celebrated with us at our baby showers. All that worry for nothing…

I still worry about that with many parenting choices. What will [insert name here] think of this decision? Will they think it’s over-the-top? Will they think I’m a crazy-crunchy mom? What if they misunderstand one of my parenting methods and think I’m being too harsh? Not strict enough? Do they think I worry too much? Do they think I should pay more attention?

Or worse, what if they think I’m judging them? When I’ve made a parenting choice that is different from other parents I know, I’m often concerned that they’ll feel I think their methods are inferior. Sometimes different is just different. Just because I choose to do something differently from another parent doesn’t mean I don’t approve of their parenting skills. It just means that my family has selected a path we believe in more, or that works better for us at that time.

There are lots of choices in parenting: some are clearly wrong, but most are just as good as the others. Just different.

What you have to come to accept is the fact that nobody’s opinion matters more than your own when it comes to your child. So, you know, frankly, your opinion about another person’s parenting doesn’t matter either. It’s a trade-off.

And I hope you can get on board with that idea right from the beginning, because it will make your whole pregnancy (and parenthood!) much more pleasant. All through pregnancy you’re going to deal with your belly being public property; rude, and sometimes downright offensive, questions; and unsolicited advice. You can choose to let all of this bother you, or you can choose to get over it. It’s part of being pregnant, right along with the morning sickness, stretch marks, and pissing yourself. At the end of the day, none of it matters. The morning sickness will go away; the stretch marks will fade; you’ll stop pissing yourself (ha! I lie…you will never stop pissing yourself); and people’s opinions still won’t matter. You just look at them, smile and say, “I really appreciate your input. We’re comfortable with our decision,” then you go ahead and scan the crap out of that wipe warmer.

All that said, we did register for a few things that it turned out we didn’t need:

-Way too many nipples. Oh, the nipples. There were nipples of all shapes and sizes splattered all over our registry. They were everywhere. We only used up to a size 2 on nipples. Size 3’s are pointless.

-Diaper bag. You have to make sure you love that thing, because you will be carrying it for the rest of your life (ok, not really, but for a very long time). We registered for one I thought I was in love with. Turns out I wasn’t. I went through four bags before I found the one I loved (this one).

-Large and Extra-Large swaddle blankets. Why? How long are you really planning on swaddling Junior?

-Bumbo. Everyone I knew had one so they must be necessary, right? Not so much. I think we used it twice.

-Boppy. Same as the Bumbo. Everyone had them, so they had to be good. When I finally stopped using that thing, I was able to hold my baby comfortably to nurse. I did use it to prop him up sometimes, but that’s about it.

I can see how both the Bumbo and the Boppy would be useful and I did pack them away to use with the next baby. So I’m not totally writing them off. We just didn’t get as much use out of them as I thought we would.

That’s it. As it turns out, we did a pretty good job on our registry, so all my fears were for nothing.  If we had to do it all over again, there are things we may have added, but not a lot we would have taken off.

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What’s this blog all about?

Throughout our first year of parenting my husband, Bo, and I discovered some truths, lots of perspective, and some pretty cool tricks. We don’t plan to have another baby for a few more years, and while I hope the perspective sticks with me, I realize that I’ll probably forget about those tricks by the next time we’re doing the whole newborn-toddler thing. I’d rather not have to re-learn everything. I thought I might keep a notebook with some of these things written down, but if you know me, you know I don’t like clutter. If it can be electronic, that’s the way it will be! And if I’m going to take the time to write it all down, I might as well share it, right?

I will say that these are not all my ideas, but some are! What you will find throughout this entire blog is a collection of ideas, some from frantic Google searches, but most from clever mom friends. I’ll try to give credit where credit is due.

And the lessons? They’re mine. They’re the lessons I learned. They’re not meant to be lessons for you. Maybe you’ll find some helpful, maybe you won’t. But hopefully you’ll at least be entertained!