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I worried so much while I was pregnant, I forgot to enjoy it

If I could travel back in time to talk to my pregnant self, I would first tell her to stop worrying, put her feet up, and enjoy the peace and quiet.

i wish i enjoyed pregnancy more

When I was pregnant with my first son, I worried. A lot. At first, I worried that I would never stop throwing up. I worried about miscarriage. I worried that I wasn't gaining enough weight, and then that I was gaining too much. As the months went by, and the fact that there was an actual human growing inside of me became a reality, my worries shifted. By the second trimester, they took two distinct fears: surviving labor and delivery and transitioning into this new role of mama.

The first set of concerns is pretty self-explanatory. How will I deliver? When? What will it feel like? Am I prepared? Having a baby for the first time is such a completely new experience. There is no precedent. For me, the best way to tackle the unknown was to over-research, overthink, over-analyze, and over-obsess. I tried to read all the materials and take all the classes.


My second set of pregnancy concerns went a little deeper. I found myself considering the philosophical implications of bringing a little person into our family. How will I retain my independence? Will I still feel like me? How will I balance work and motherhood? How will parenthood impact my marriage? Will I ever make it out to see my friends? It felt like a bomb was about to go off, destroying my old life and leaving me to emerge from the ashes as…what?

Looking back, all of these thoughts are, and were, incredibly valid. But the vast amount of time that I put into worrying about them didn't do me a whole lot of good.

Very little about labor and delivery is under your control. Yes, you can come in with a plan. Yes, you can and should advocate for your choices. But babies have a way of doing things according to their own agenda. Which isn't to say that you shouldn't prepare for the birthing process, but that it's important to be aware that it might not go according to plan.

Similarly, all of my "big picture" worries remain important to this day. But when that new baby got buckled into his car seat for the first time on the drive home, I wasn't worried about the trajectory of my career or how often I'd make it to yoga. Instead, my brain whirled with fragments of half-forgotten advice from the nurses and questions—is the house warm enough? why is that guy driving so fast?—and the dim realization that my boobs were leaking through my shirt.

Then we got home and hours turned into days which turned into weeks which turned into months, and there was so much to learn.

If I could travel back in time to talk to my pregnant self, I would first tell her to stop worrying, put her feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet. Then I would recommend channeling all of that worried energy into learning about the practicalities of raising a tiny human. It seems like most pregnant women, myself included, spend so much time thinking about how to bring the baby into this world that they forget to consider what will happen when it arrives.

I'm not talking about basics or broad strokes. Not how to choose the perfect stroller or whether to get that wipes warmer (the answer: no). I'm talking specifics. How often should I feed my baby? How much should he be eating? What's the best way to treat mastitis? How and when and where do you give the first bath? How many layers should a baby wear to bed? When can I start pumping and how on earth do you use this thing? What's the best way to heat up frozen breastmilk? If I'm sick, can the baby get it? Is nipple confusion a real thing? Should he be sleeping this much/this little/this loudly? This is the stuff that I wish my pregnant self had been thinking about.

The truest adage about parenthood is that the days are long but the years are short. Months are short, too, and before you know it, baby is 6 months old and crawling everywhere and trying to steal a bite of your pizza and suddenly you have to worry about solid foods and baby proofing and college. You think you will have endless time to research these far-away milestones and then suddenly they're at your door—and you're exhausted and overwhelmed and have no energy to read yet another article.

So, Pregnant Self, my advice is this: Prepare for the birth. Think about the bigger picture. But study up on the small things, too. Ask fellow moms for tips, tricks and recommendations, not just for the first days, but for the first years. Watch videos from trusted sources, like a lactation or sleep consultant, to see how to actually do this.. Take an online class you can refer back to when your brain is fried. Hang out with friends and family who have kids to learn how it's done. Don't be afraid of bringing up a gross topic; once you're a mom, everything is fair game.

It's hard to know what you don't know so try browsing websites for new moms instead of those for pregnant people. You'll come across a wealth of ideas and information that will open your mind to the reality of raising a little one. You won't absorb it all right now and that's okay, because you will feel more prepared, more knowledgeable and more confident about this whole motherhood thing.

You got this, Pregnant Self. Whether the birth goes according to plan or not, everything will work out. Try to worry less and learn more. Focus on what you can control and how you can prepare for the birth and beyond. You're going to be an awesome mom, I know it.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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