Pregnancy and Childbirth

August 5, 2011

A friend of mine recently told me she is pregnant. (Don’t worry, I won’t name names). It brought back memories of my pregnancy and all the things I wished I would have been told about pregnancy before becoming pregnant. So here it is; my list of things “they” don’t tell you. Fair warning, I was not one of those people who “just loves to be pregnant.” It is a necessary evil.

  1. As soon as you make it publicly known that you are pregnant, people will unconsciously look at your stomach every time they talk to you. It is very uncomfortable. But to be fair, you have probably done it to other pregnant women.
  2. If you are a stomach sleeper, try to train yourself early in your pregnancy to sleep on your side. Though, if I remember correctly only on the right side. I think it is the left side that you are supposed to avoid because it could cut off your blood supply. (I know you are thinking now, “Oh, she was one of THOSE pregnant women…” Yes, I am a mild hypochondriac.)
  3. The sacrifices you make in pregnancy (caffeine, deli meat, wine, your body) merely foreshadow the sacrifices you make as a parent. (And I’ve only been going at it a year and a half… I know there are many more to come.)
  4. You will feel like you have an alien life-form growing inside you. Feeling the baby move (when it is big enough) is amazing, but when it gets to the point that you have a full grown baby inside of you and you can feel his/her elbow ready to pop through your belly, you will be shocked and horrified all at the same time.
  5. When you get into the last stages of pregnancy and you start having Braxton Hicks contractions and are wondering to yourself, should I be timing these? Don’t. Don’t start timing them until they start to become so uncomfortable you can’t time them. (That is what your spouse is for. If you are going at this alone, God be with you!) I had false labor pains for about a week and a half before I went into active labor. I obsessed over timing them, which only made them worse. Learn from my mistake. Don’t do it.
  6. So-called “pregnancy brain” doesn’t go away after you give birth. It takes a while to feel like your brain is fully functioning. I am now 18-months-post-partum and still have pregnancy brain from time to time. (Okay, I’m just absent minded.)
  7. You can read and prepare for childbirth all you want, but NOTHING will prepare you for how you will feel after giving birth. For some reason, I thought I’d be perfectly fine after delivery and I would be able to go back to normal movement. Several WEEKS passed before that happened. I remember going to my first doctor appointment after giving birth and she asked how I was feeling. I told her very sore and she said, “Like you just gave birth?” Well, yeah… now that statement makes sense.

Suggested Resources: 

I’ll keep this short. I have read countless books about pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing. I tried to read a wide variety of them so I could be well-versed in the subject and could make an educated decision as to how I want to raise my own children. There are a lot of crazy theories out there. These are my recommendations on reading material:

  1. Dr. Sears Baby Book was by far the best pregnancy and newborn resource I owned. If I only had one, this is the one I would want. He is an attachment parenting advocate, so if that’s not your thing, he won’t be either.
  2. Mayo Clinic’s guide to a Healthy Pregnancy was very helpful, but beware, it was written by a hospital, so they include all the scary things that could happen, too.
  3. As far as childrearing goes (remember, I only have a toddler) my favorite “expert” is John Rosemond. His expertise is in child discipline. His books The Well-Behaved Child and Making the Terrible Twos Terrific have been “eye opening” for me (though The Well-Behaved Child is far superior). Even though he is a child psychologist, his whole stance is that (for the most part) child psychology is a bunch of bull and we should be “disciplining” our children with boundaries and common sense instead of trying to negotiate with rewards and punishments on charts. Everything in his books are based on common sense, not how are you going to screw up your child if you don’t do the right thing at the right time. He insists all parents should maintain the proper authority over their children and be comfortable in a leadership role. (Just to make it clear, having authority over your children doesn’t mean beating your child until they submit to your every wish.) In other words, he says the one phrase every parent should become comfortable saying is, “Because I said so” and meaning it. I really like him.
I know I am not remembering all the things I thought “I wish I would have known this before.” I need your help remembering (It must be that silly 18-month-post-partum pregnancy brain thing). What are some things you wish you would have known about pregnancy or childbirth?
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The Many Hats

August 4, 2011

My son is very much into hats right now. Hats, shoes and gloves to be exact. Who wears hats, shoes, and gloves? Baseball players. That is why his favorite word right now is Baseball!

I am the last person on the face of the planet who should be teaching my son, or anyone for that matter, how to catch a ball. Not that I don’t enjoy it, I’m just not qualified for the position. As someone who was always picked last for teams in gym class, I have a real insecurity when it comes to anything athletic. Regardless of my insecurities though, the kid wants to play baseball. It doesn’t matter how I feel about it, he loves it. So I put on my “Mommy Hat” and I do it.

It got me thinking about the many hats we wear as human beings and how interesting it is that on social networking sites, like Facebook, we must integrate all those hats into one collective identity. My friend, Anna, reminded me of Erving Goffman in her blog. In his excruciatingly boring book, “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life“……. zzz… Oh, sorry, I fell asleep just remembering the book. *Slap myself in the face and shake it off* Goffman, a sociologist, claimed all the world’s a stage and all the men and women, merely players. No, that was Shakespeare. But, Goffman had a similar theory in that defining our “self” was dependent on what we are doing and who we are talking to, therefore everything in life is a performance. (Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the theory sounds interesting and read the book. I guarantee you will fall asleep reading it.)

I agree whole heartedly with Goffman on that. I am a very different person depending on the situation, context, and how much sleep I’ve gotten recently. Imagine for a moment you meet me, by chance, at the playground. You are meeting Mommy Emily. Now, Mommy Emily is very different from Wife Emily who is nothing like Daughter Emily or Sister Emily. And, if Sleepy Emily is around, run the other way! But when you combine them all into one collective Emily, who is she?

Some people are really good at picking one persona and sticking with it in most parts of their lives, then only letting a few who they are close to see other aspects of their identity. I’m not one of those people. I’ve never been one of those people. I can have a good time with lots of different groups of people and to limit my Self to only one group or one identity isn’t for me.

It became evident to me while I was organizing my music library yesterday. I have such a wide variety of music. Some days I feel like listening to classical music, somedays I feel like listening to punkrock. Would I ever label myself as a punk rocker? No. Would I call myself a snooty intellectual who only listens to classical music? No. I enjoy most generes of music and the thought of limiting myself to only one seems ridiculous. But people do it.

Our identities are really no different. Sometimes we are happy. Sometimes we are pissed. Sometimes we are sad. Sometimes we want to go out and have a good time. Sometimes we just want to stay in and watch a movie. Yet, there is a common misconception that if you only act a certain way in front of a certain group of people, you must be “fake.” People act as though the only way to be “real” is to constantly be portraying the same persona. I can tell you this, when I see people (online) posting only overly happy and upbeat statuses, all of the time, I can’t help but think they are only trying to convince themselves that they are happy and upbeat or that they just LOVE their boyfriend so dang much. It seems to me that those are the same people, given a couple weeks, who will be posting about how much they hate their lives and about their broken hearts (or in fewer words, “fml”).

When we mix our different personas into the world of social networking, how can we manage our many different identities? I’ve been playing around with Google+ and it seems to me that Google has come up with that answer by allowing you to form “circles.” When you create a post, you can choose which of your circles get to see it. So then you could have a Mommy Circle, a Friend Circle, a Professional Circle, etc. and be able to effectively manage your many hats.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to answer the question of who Emily is, with no hat. I personally don’t think there is an answer to that question. The dess-up box inside me is full of many wonderful, colorful, fun hats. I don’t plan on getting rid of them anytime soon.

I’ve been complaining a lot lately about how my son refuses to call me Mommy, Ma, Mama, or anything like that. After thinking it through, I’ve decided it probably isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Life with Louie: Let's Not Rush It

Life with Louie: Let's Not Rush It!

He’ll say it when he’s ready. Until then, maybe I should enjoy the “silence.” :)

(On a side note, I tried making the cartoon bigger, but it wouldn’t fit in the frame. Sorry, you’ll have to click on it to read it. Unless you have amazing eyesight, in which case, Bravo!)

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