Every mom and book will tell you that no two pregnancies are alike. Even though we all experience pregnancy and childbirth differently, there are many things we actually all go through, but maybe to varying degrees of intensity. As a researcher at heart, I spent countless hours reading books, talking to moms, and surfing the internet to soak up as much as I can to prepare for childbirth. But surprisingly there were some significant things that happened I wasn’t expecting. Here is my list of unexpecteds:
- Difficulty sleeping. I was always a light sleeper, but around my 6 month of pregnancy it took me longer and longer to fall asleep. I had a million thoughts running through my mind and as my body got bigger it was impossible to find a comfortable position to sleep in. And of course after giving birth you have a baby that wakes up every 2-3 hours which meant you were awake too. But even when it was time to fall asleep again it took me 1-2 hours to do so. What did help was listening to hypnotherapy recordings such as those offered by Glenn Harold as a smartphone app. Deep Sleep Every Night can be purchased on Amazon.com. These helped me speed up the falling asleep process. Many times I never finish the recording by the time I drift off.
- Forgetfulness. My husband makes fun of me when I tell him something twice in the same week as if it was the first time. I also had a hard time remembering what I was going to do when I arrive at the destination (going to the living room to get something, opening the fridge to get a drink). When it comes to raising a baby, this was not a good thing. I often forgot when the last feeding was or if the diaper was changed yet (since these motions happen at least 8 times a day). You could keep track of these things for the baby with the What to Expect Baby Tracker app on your smart phone.
- The need to pee. This was new…I didn’t know pregnant women pee all the time until I became pregnant. And it wasn’t even when the baby got big in my tummy. Just in the first few months of pregnancy when he was the size of a pea I had the need to visit the ladies’ room at least once an hour! After delivering the baby it did not change. It wasn’t as frequent, but maybe because my kegel muscles are weaker now, I have to go more often than usual.
- Lack of time. Because I became a full time mom without the demanding work schedule, I thought, “I’m going to have so much time on my hands when the baby comes.” I now had an extra 40 plus hours a week to myself to do whatever I wanted to do. Boy was I wrong. I barely find time to shower, use the restroom, and eat. On top of that, I have 200 more responsibilities to keep up with.
- Clumsiness. I am not a clumsy person. I am the most careful person I know because I hate getting hurt and can’t stand pain. As a skier, rock-climber, ballroom dancer, and competitive badminton player, I have a high level of hand-eye coordination. But for some reason during and after pregnancy, I am always running into things. My arms and legs always show at least one bruise, and I can never recall where the bruise came from. Although difficult to hear, my husband brings my attention to my clumsiness more than once a week.
- Guilt. Once you become a mom, you inherit this “guilt” gene. You’ll feel guilty about everything to do with life. If you take a shower, you’ll feel guilty for leaving your baby alone for 10 minutes. If you stay home all day, you’ll feel guilty for not taking your baby out for fresh air. You’ll feel guilty about your baby not eating enough/eating too much, staying at home/going to work, letting him cry/not sleep training him…and the list goes on. For some reason, men don’t have this same guilt gene. If the baby fell on their watch, it happens…if the baby fell on our watch, it’s our fault.
- Pushing the baby out. Movies do not accurately represent what it takes to push a baby out of you. They show the last 3+ pushes. But in reality, I had to try pushing like 100 times in 2 hours to get the baby out! For some reason I assumed he just came out like a slippery fish with no effort from me.
- Contractions after the baby is born. I thought I was done with all the pain after the baby was born. Now that the epidural is gone and my body was on it’s way through recovery, I wasn’t expecting more contractions. They were quite strong and happened when I started breastfeeding. I learned they happen as your uterus shrinks back to normal size. These happened most strongly in the first 2 days after birth and were gone by the end of the week.
- Hair loss. Starting when my baby was 3 months old I began to lose hair. A TON of hair. He’s 10 months old now and I’m still losing hair. It’s ridiculous. I’m surprised that I’m not bald yet. I do have new baby hairs growing so that’s a good sign (though difficult to style).
- Marital challenges. My husband and I had a lot of conflict after the baby was born. I feel ashamed to confess this, as it is well-known some people are struggling to have a baby (find out more on the subject at http://www.advancedfertility.com/icsi.htm). It was probably due to the combination of sleep deprivation, depression, emotional instability, and lack of activities that nurtures the relationship. After seeing a couples counselor and reading books on life after having a baby, I learned that more than 50% of marriages struggle after the birth of the first baby. I thought it was just us and our situation, but it’s more common than I thought. One of the best gifts you can give your child is a happy marriage. So if you are struggling too, you must take action to improve it. Some good books are: Babyproofing Your Marriage, And Baby Makes Three, and Boundaries in Marriage.
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