Thursday, January 14, 2010

4 Things Early Pregnancy Taught Me about Early Pregnancy

It feels much, much longer than the 3 1/2 weeks that have passed since I posted last. During that time, I went from west coast to east, and back, for the holidays, let the cat out of the bag to 15 people about the pregnancy, experienced a stint of morning sickness more hellish than anything I could have imagined, and (the one thing that made all the crappy stuff worth it) saw my baby's heartbeat. Throughout all this, I have gathered some wisdom I hope other women benefit from hearing. So here they are, my list of 4 things early pregnancy taught me about early pregnancy:
  1. Even if you're nervous about telling people too early, run (don't walk!) to tell one or two girlfriends who are moms. Early pregnancy can be lonely--in my case, I have been too sick or lethargic for my standard social calendar. Beyond opting out of the normal routine, the pregnancy routine itself has been a major adjustment. Suffering in silence is not a good strategy--what you lose in support is not worth what you gain by discretion. Doctors and books are good for answers and husbands/partners are good for hugs, but, during what is arguably the hardest phase of pregnancy, you need someone who has been through it before.
  2. Your partner has absolutely no idea what you're going through, and it's up to you to make sure he/she gets it. My husband was thoroughly surprised to witness that pregnancy symptoms weren't limited to the morning sickness and mood swings he'd seen in the movies. Though prepared (if not eager) to make midnight taco runs and sprinkle pickles on my ice cream, he's been caught unawares by a laundry list of complaints. The most confusing symptom, for him, has been my schizophrenic appetite. One moment I'm wailing with severe nausea, the next I'm demanding that he feed me food he knows I usually hate. If it seems like partners are frustrated, it might be because they don't get it, and since your pregnancy is unique it's your job to make sure they do.
  3. Once you start announcing your pregnancy, you will become the inevitable recipient of unwanted attention and unsolicited advice. And, yes, I mean you--not your partner. I liken it to getting engaged: when we announced that, everyone wanted to ogle my ring and grill me for hours about details of our wedding while my husband got away with brief congratulations and a pat or two on the back. With the pregnancy announcement, other women will immediately want to tell you about their pregnancies (warning: they may launch into horror stories). You will be hard-pressed to figure out how some of the things people tell you could possibly be considered helpful, and if your early pregnancy hormones are anything like mine, you may not be inclined to take it with grace. Advice: enlist your partner to listen for excessive pregnancy talk and to rescue you when this gets out of hand.
  4. Be prepared to slow people down. As soon as we announced, the people we told started doing/saying crazy things. Buying clothes, speculating on our housing needs and post-baby lifestyle...my mother is currently scouring Amish country for a certain handmade bunting. "Is it a boy or a girl?" people want to know. "Have you considered the name Clyde?" Um, no. BECAUSE MY BABY IS THE SIZE OF A KIDNEY BEAN!! You would be surprised by how many people will ignore the simple fact that your pregnancy has just begun and that there are, literally months to make crucial decisions. In our case, we are planning to write an e-mail asking people to slow down, letting them know we will keep them in the loop, and describing ways they can truly be helpful.
So, those are my insights--what is your best advice for getting through early pregnancy?

37 comments:

  1. "Once you start announcing your pregnancy, you will become the inevitable recipient of unwanted attention and unsolicited advice. And, yes, I mean you--not your partner"

    It doesn't get any better in the later stages of pregnancy. The closer you get to delivery, the MORE "helpful" advice you're going to get. You'll get people telling you you're too big, or too small. You will have people talking your damn ear off about when they had a baby back in the 1970s, and what the style of maternity clothes was like back then, and why they don't like the style today. People will be blathering on and on about their experiences with breastfeeding, with co-sleeping, with bottle feeding, etc... And NONE of this will be information you've asked about. People will just... Tell you whether you care about it, or not.

    Pregnancy is the most amazing thing that's happened to me, but everyone else in the universe has gotten so on my nerves it makes me wanna scream. There is something about another person's pregnancy that turns normal people into raving psychos.

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  2. Thanks for the warnings! I can completely understand point 1 -- I think it would be really hard to go through that without anyone experienced to talk to.

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