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Stories of Birth, Pregnancy, and Newborns

What I Learned From My First Pregnancy

By Jacinda Little

baby pictureConsidering that we’re living in this 'information age', I was surprisingly clueless during my first pregnancy.  Sure, I read the books, Googled, consulted with friends, and took part in birthing class.  But somehow, my hormones took me on a route that wasn’t outlined on my Map of Attractions.

The mistakes I made during my first pregnancy were in no way detrimental to the health of me or my baby, but I did take notes.  On my second go-around, I avoided these, my most memorable mistakes and um … misconceptions.  I was guilty of …

  • Underestimating the power of the combination of a hot tub, Peanut M&M’s and Michelob Light to induce conception.
  • Misunderstanding the significance of the feeling that a water balloon had taken refuge in my abdomen (especially notable over bumps in the freeway during my ride to work).
  • Assuming that pulling over to vomit on the way to work was nothing more than a symptom of my aversion to my boss.
  • Spending $92 on a variety of pregnancy tests (from generic to top-of-the-line), assuming that I could choose the one that displayed the result that I desired.  Little did I know that they would all reveal the same outcome … in glaring fashion, despite blowing and waving air over the test strip.
  • Assuming that the collective sigh, emitted from the men at Lamaze class when they learned that there would be no XOXOXO for weeks following delivery, was in sympathy for their poor wives.
  • Believing that “eating for two” meant that I could eat six egg rolls instead of three.
  • Denying that peanut butter cups had anything to do with my gaining fourteen pounds in two weeks. 
  • Supposing that my tree-trunk neck, as wide as my head – was simply filled with amniotic fluid.
  • Believing that the intense lower-abdominal pains that I was experiencing, two days before my due date, must be colitis, because I wasn’t due yet!
  • Assuming that when I told my husband, “Take off your work boots, put on your loafers, we’re going to the hospital,” he would act rationally.
  • Likewise, assuming that my husband would drop his laboring wife off at the hospital entrance, even though there might be a perfectly good parking space, only 153 spots away from the front door.
  • Hoping that my baby was going to weigh 45 pounds, and that the pre-pregnancy jeans I’d packed would fit like a glove, at worst, after the birth.
  • Believing that Lamaze breathing would deliver me to a Zen state.  That women only scream like Banshees and pant like dogs in the movies.
  • Never thinking that my husband’s teeth would become my chosen focal point (and how he would look without them).
  • Thinking that I was tough – that epidurals really are optional.
  • Assuming that my husband would refrain from numerous trips to the cafeteria, returning with cookies in his pocket and Coca-Cola on his breath, while I’m starving on ice chips.
  • Hoping that my hair would stay in place for the birth video.
  • Not expecting that nine interns would be invited into my room to witness the birth of my child.  Or, that I would warmly welcome them, peering over my knees to greet each one, from a veil of narcotic-induced immodesty.
  • Rejecting the possibility that my husband, or any human, would think that a woman in labor would see a Beanie Baby, bouncing on her stomach, announcing the onset of every contraction, as cute.
  • Misunderstanding the ability of my own eyeballs to protrude like golfballs as I push a Thanksgiving turkey from a place that just yesterday couldn’t even maintain a healthy stream of urine.
  • Underestimating my own ability to act under pressure when I was told that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my baby’s neck – that it was now or never – I had one last push.  This was it ... golfballs and all.
  • Not realizing that my tough-as-nails husband … a real man’s man … was capable of jumping like a giddy little girl at the sight of his child’s head … or that he could leap even higher at the moment when he heard he was the father of a new son.
  • Not anticipating my own flood of emotion when I was presented with a perfect purple package … my own child.  The reason for my life to turn upside down.  Or, really, right side up. Birth Butterfly
  • And finally, not stopping to think about how difficult birth is for the baby.  Just look at that grumpy picture … he wants to know who took him out and where they live.

I can recall dozens of funny, annoying, character-shaping happenings during my pregnancies, and the births of my children.  But none are as significant as the exact moment when I added “mother” to my resume. 

As with anything that is worthwhile, the trial comes before the reward.  The memories of the pain fade, your husband falls back into favor, and you could swear that the new little face in your house makes the world spin.  Not long after your child is born, your pregnancy and labor story converts from a harrowing remembrance to an interesting tale told at a card party, advice given at a baby shower, or a really great way to guilt your husband into doing the dishes.

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