a letter from pregnancy past

Before I found out I was pregnant, I never knew there were so many theories and unwritten rules to follow as an expecting mom. Did our parents do this much research before having babies? Maybe it wasn’t as popular to research, manage, and customize every aspect of our lives. Maybe they just had children, then called the real grown-ups (their parents) when they had questions. I quickly found out when I got pregnant that parenting in today’s world, much like eating, exercising, and managing money, is no longer governed by tradition and common sense, but rather by camps of sparring scientists, gurus, and research which one must read to truly know how to parent (eat, exercise, manage money) the right way. 

Then there was the required reading (and you thought you were done with homework when you graduated college). There is no shortage of resources available to expecting parents. Books about pregnancy, books about giving birth, books about sleep schedules and behavior and eating schedules. Blogs, articles, brochures and pamphlets raise myriad questions, all the while advising that stress is bad for the baby. What can I eat? What can’t I eat? Can I play volleyball? Am I allowed to jump or do sit ups? Is coffee ok? What if the only thing that sounds good first trimester is McDonalds french fries? Why does every food burn my esophagus an hour after eating? Is anything safe? Should I just live in a bubble? The conflicting opinions and research is enough to paralyze any new parent from making any decisions at all, just to avoid the judgment of other parents. 

For someone who hates details as much as me, this could be looked at as a form of torture. I personally couldn’t deal with all the worry and stress on top of the physical ailments that come with early pregnancy, so my approach was simply “it’s fine unless the doctor said no.” I figured, if babies have been surviving and thriving for centuries without all this research and these online mommy-to-be forums, then why should I worry about it? I trust my doctor and my common sense enough to tell me when something is not safe. 

Oddly enough, now that the whole thing is over with, I sometimes look back on those times fondly. I find myself browsing maternity clothes online. I recall the feeling of those little kicks from baby Pip. Well, Past Emily knew this day would come, so she took it upon herself to write a letter to Future Emily. **(Obligatory side note: I do know that the ability to have children is a blessing from God, and am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to go through it. This is just a lighthearted look back at some of the physical and mental challenges of pregnancy).**  (Also, I am not pregnant again. Just reminiscing). 

Dear non-pregnant me,

Now that you are thin again,without a precious little one growing inside you, you may be fondly reminiscing about that magical time in your life. You may even be considering beginning that journey again. Well, friend, I am here to remind you of exactly what pregnancy was like.

Remember throwing up every morning for 2 months straight? You would wake up, stomach lurching like a wicked hangover without the party. “Try keeping some crackers on their nightstand!” they said. “It’ll help!” Nay. It will not. Post-vomit, you would spend the next 3 hours in a woozy stupor, head on your desk with the occasional trip to the restroom to dry-heave. Your students were concerned, but didn’t even know you were pregnant. So you didn’t even get special treatment.

Remember those blinding headaches? They really complemented the nausea. 

Remember when nothing sounded appetizing except cereal, toast, and fast food?

16 weeks

Remember first trimester exhaustion? 2 p.m. would hit and standing up felt like a chore. Passing out papers was your Everest. If only you could summon up the strength to take a lap of the room before collapsing back into your rolling chair, you considered it a victory.  

Remember when you thought you couldn’t bear it any longer? It was then that second trimester dawned like the first spring day after a Minnesota winter. Angels sang and a feast was prepared to celebrate your first day sans morning sickness. 

Remember when the word of your joyous news was finally out? People beamed when they saw you. Sure, they didn’t make eye contact with you until they scanned your midsection for any sign of a baby bump, but they were so happy for you! That miniature baby bump and ever-so-slight face bloat that made you look like you were indulging in one too many holiday dessert spreads.  You soaked it up, reveling in the attention and the fact that you could still fit in your regular clothes. 

Remember around 20 weeks when you found out the gender of your baby? That first ultrasound was probably one of the most awe-inspiring moments of your life. You got your first glimpse of that beautiful human being growing inside you. You didn’t even mind how uncomfortable your somehow constantly full bladder was making you. 

Also, remember how you thought your bump was HUGE at that time? Ha. 

24 weeks

Remember the moment you realized those once-flowing tops and dresses that you thought would last your entire pregnancy just didn’t hang quite right on a growing baby bump? You didn’t count on the awkward pulling and the accidental midriff, did you? It was then that you broke down and ordered your first round of maternity clothes online. 

Remember the day third trimester hit, and you realized you were reprising semester one? Only this time you were much bigger and your wardrobe options had shrunk significantly. Nausea? Not nearly as bad, sure. But if you didn’t eat first thing upon awakening, it would not be a pleasant morning. Exhaustion? Welcome back, old friend. 

Remember the day you broke down and cried in your classroom? (Don’t worry, it was during your free period). You were already feeling self-conscious of your ever-changing and expanding waistline, and no one would let you forget it. “You’re going to get bigger?” “You have how many weeks left?” “You’re never going to make it to your due date!” Up until that week you were proud of your little baby bump. You felt cute-pregnant. No more. 

Oh, and remember that day you cried in the store because it was the fifth clothing shop you went into that didn’t carry maternity clothes. Seriously, what did women do before the internet? How did people find affordable and cute maternity clothes? I mean, you lived in a suburb of a huge metro, yet you could only find 2 stores that carried maternity clothes. And you were outraged at the thought of paying $24 for a plain v-neck t-shirt that sold for $12 in non-maternity. Oh the humanity! What griefs and trials we bear!

39 weeks

But then, remember the simple joys of relaxing on the couch at night, feeling a symphony of baby kicks, hiccups, and rolls? How you laughed when she would bob her head up against your right ribcage, almost as if she were pushing off with her little toes to let you know she was there! Remember how the dog would snuggle up against your big old belly? If only he knew he was in for a rude awakening when he would no longer be the center of attention. 

Remember how wonderfully people treated you? They rolled out the red carpet, allowing you to skip the line to the bathroom, demanding that you sit and relax even though you knew you were perfectly capable of completing whatever task you were doing. 

Remember how totally worth it all of that was when you finally got to meet little Pip? Definitely worth it. 


Past Emily

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