Now that my pregnancy is a few months in the rear-view mirror, it is a fantastic experience to think back and remember it fondly. There are even days now that I miss my big ol' belly (my belly now is of an entirely different, not so fabulous, kind). Yes, my pregnancy had its tribulations - the bleeding scare, pneumonia, a displaced rib, hip pain... you know, fun stuff. But overall it was a very happy time for me. I felt prepared, at peace, and calm. Like I was finally on the right track.
There were a couple of things I did (and one or two I didn't and wish I did) that I feel really worked well for us. And now we are blessed with a few friends that are expecting little people and I am simply GIDDY to be able to share my own mommy-wisdom with someone else. After all this time, it's a bit of a trip actually.
On with the list!
1. A mom friend. People, I am all for being an independent woman. I like to program my own damn electronics, thankyouverymuch. However, I think women in general have done themselves a real disservice, at least I did, by not spending more time building their village. The old adage that "It takes a village to raise a child" could not be more true. You need a confidant. A mommy who's been there and done that. No, your experience will NOT be like hers, good or bad, count on that now. Don't use her experience to establish expectations, but use her instead as a sympathetic ear, an expert on what baby gear is a must and whats overpriced garbage, and you'll certainly want a cheerleader in those last couple of hard weeks. Don't even get me started on how invaluable these people are after your wee-one arrives, that's an item for a whole different list. And for God sake, stop feeling like a burden! I love sharing my experiences when I can and to do that AND help a friend? I wouldn't think twice. Plus, if you're bugging me, I won't hesitate to tell you you're being a crazycakes.
2. A body pillow. Remember Tony Danza? Admittedly, J was not the biggest fan of sharing his bed with my new love. But Tony literally saved my ass. Well, technically my hips and back, but you get the idea. Things, they are a changin' and that especially applied to my joints. Having a plush, supportive pillow (I swear by my Snoogle.) was key. There are others out there that aren't as plush, so if that floats your boat, have at it. Also, washing the cover for my Snoogle was a royal pain in my previously-achy backside. It's worth it, but you've been warned. Also, they can be a bit pricey. Check for sales and coupons!
3. A photographer. There will be a day, sometime in your mid-30ish-weeks that you start to feel like a blimp. Pregnancy is beautiful and growing a child is a miracle topped by nothing else, but damn you won't feel as 'glowy' as everyone says you look. Take at least one day in the beginning of your third trimester, erase that mess from your mind, and have your picture taken. Can't afford it? Check Craigs.list or something similar for a student looking to build their portfolio, or have a friend that just got a new shiny DSLR for Christmas take pictures of you and your partner. The day before I had mine taken, I almost backed out. I cried, felt ginormous, and almost cancelled my pre-paid session. Can I tell you that I am SO happy I didn't? I will forever treasure these:
4. Maternity wardrobe staples. At least one cozy dress, yoga pants, and a bra to sleep in. I just passed my long cotton beautiful dress down to own of my best pals and my yoga pants? You bet your sweet ass I still wear those once a week. Ooooh yeah. Their the best. And there will more than likely be a point at which your boobs are tender and angry. That point for me was conception through sometime a couple months ago. A good sports bra or sleeping bra is a life saver.
5. A Doula. If you can afford this type of support, I highly recommend it. Our doula happens to be my very best pal. They are trained, educated, and handy as all hell. Mine did personal childbirth education classes in our home, answered my thousand questions a day, and was there during about 45 of my 53 hours of labor. If your husband is anything like mine (i.e. not a huge fan of discussing vaginas, and its various functions during labor, with an entire group of strangers, home childbirth education was awesome.) She helped us through all of the decisions we had to make. She didn't make them for us, or pressure us one way or the other, but she was an incredible source of knowledge as we talked through pros-cons, etc.This should be right up there with a good mom friend. It can change your life. (Doula Match)
6. A good chiropractor/masseuse. Speaking of life changing! Remember that displaced rib I was talking about? My chiropractor specializes in treating pregnant women and babies - he saved my damn life. Thankfully chiropractic treatments are covered by my insurance, so regular visits kept me much more comfortable. Especially toward the end. Your body is actually a professional contortionist, whether you knew it or not. You'd think your joints loosening and getting more flexible would feel good - but it doesn't. Nope! Not to mention, especially toward the end, you'll be carrying more weight than you're used to, your gait changes, etc, etc, etc. If your insurance covers this, take advantage!
7. A journal. Pregnancy is filled with highs and lows. For me, this outlet with priceless. Wax eloquent about your pregnancy, your relationships.. make lists, check off names, write down questions for your next doctor/midwife appointment. Get that stuff out of your head. This really helped me sleep at night. Mostly, it helped me keep the peace. When I got all of the STUFF out of my head, I could focus on quality time with my husband, and more communication with my baby. I would talk to her (out loud and in my mind), rub my belly, day dream... without all of my worries or to-do's floating around messing it up. A huge bonus is that it is really fun to look back at.
I am certain there are many more things out there that can help someone through pregnancy. These happen to be my MUSTs. What were yours? What was it that you couldn't have survived without? A steady diet of ice cream? That probably should have been my #8... Let's hear it!
Labor and Newborn lists to follow soon!