By: Anika Repole Wilson (Published in B3 Magazine)
As long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a mother. In fact, my greatest fear was that I may not be able to have children of my own. On November 14, 2013, our wedding anniversary, we welcomed our son into our lives, and over the past few months, this beautiful soul has become my heartbeat.
Being a new mom has been a roller-coaster of emotions but an amazing and wonderful new period in my life. Lots of transitions have happened and lots more are yet to come, but I welcome them happily but with a hint of apprehension, for the sheer immensity and responsibility of being this child’s mother and making sure I do a good job, without potentially screwing up the poor kid.
However this journey does not begin at birth (which I was asleep for – that’s another article – look out for; ‘Birth Plans and Oh Crap Plans’). Over a 40 week period, give or take a few weeks, pregnancy is a beautiful experience, amazing, lovely….how many positive adjectives can I fit into this sentence?! In reality, pregnancy was both wonderful and also a very difficult experience which all serves to prepare you for the hardest and most awesome job on the planet; being a mother.
All major symptoms of pregnancy can of course be related to a physiological occurrence within the mother or baby, but also important to mention are the psychological effects and preparations occurring as a direct result of these aspects. Your body is not only adapting, but so is your psyche, to accommodate your new role in life.
So here is my honest take on the major symptoms of pregnancy, with a few tips and maybe a couple laughs for you to enjoy - at my expense of course.
Morning sickness can be ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, 24/7 Sickness. I heard it best from someone recently, explaining how she felt during her first trimester; “If there was an eject button I would so have pushed it”. Unless you have been in this situation you may not be able to appreciate, but as much as this explains her discomfort, it also shows something very significant.
General discomfort, whether in the form of nausea or back pain, appears to be mental training; to put your wants, desires and comfort aside for that of your baby on the way. Soon you will realise that your child will come first in all your decisions, rather than what you wanted for yourself. (Note though, that I did not say ‘Need’ – as women our needs must also be met to nourish and nurture ourselves so that we can also grow and further develop as individuals, not just as mothers, significant others or worker bees in the office – but that’s another article)
Survival Tips - Remedies:
Ginger Ale or Tea can help. Almonds and bananas can aid in reducing stomach acids. Of course also keeping a bottle of calcium based antacid tablets handy helps also. However, most importantly, never let your stomach go empty. Always keep a light snack close by. I would keep a protein or energy shake at my bedside in a cooler and a container full of almonds. In the night when I woke to make a run for the bathroom I would eat a handful of almonds and drink my shake. I found I was never nauseous when I did this. Some women however have a hard time and may need to seek medication to help relieve the nausea.
Whoa Mama! This is serious and unreal. I passed out at my desk at work a few times, even drooled a bit on my keyboard. Oh yea drooling is a lovely side effect of pregnancy also – excess saliva. Try chewing gum or ice to help combat the drools which can also happen while being AWAKE! Yes I said awake…don’t ask.
The exhaustion during the first and last trimesters is heralding the sensation one will soon feel after baby is born, for the initial few weeks to months of their life while trying to develop a rhythm. No one can prepare you for this time, but your body is trying to; to show you that you can function while being exhausted. The sleep deprivation you will experience the first few weeks baby is home is incomparable to any sense of tiredness you felt before. I have some wonderful guardian angels, as I left the stove on all night once, because of how tired and just plain out of it I was. You are able to focus on baby but there is no mental space for anything else – just remember to shower and eat when you can. Who said sleep when the baby sleeps, didn’t shower or eat or have laundry to do.
Survival Tips – Remedies:
If one can, rest whenever able to, after all you are making another human being, that’s hard work. However if you have other obligations and rest is not an option, try to ensure you are getting the minimum 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night, or exercise for a natural boost of energy. Make sure your exercise is something that you have been doing prior to pregnancy or something mellow like prenatal yoga or aquatics. Get the clear from your doctor on any form of exercise during pregnancy. You will want to avoid stimulants, as much as possible, like caffeine (which is safe in small doses ie one cup of coffee a day).
Confusion / Forgetfulness
Typical example: you get up from your chair to do something, as you get up, you forgot why you did in the first place. Or how about this? Locking your keys in your car, twice in one week, thankfully in your own driveway. Simple things elude you, like the moment you placed a full jar of peanut butter in the sink thinking it was a dirty glass to be washed.
You will soon have another person in your life, demanding your time and attention and it can be overwhelming. I like to think of this sense of confusion as a brain reboot – a sort of reprogramming of your priorities and to teach you not to take things so seriously. The need to take a step back once in a while and put things into perspective – that peanut butter jar does not belong in the sink, neither does that new pair of shoes in your closet – DAMN!
Survival Tips – Remedies:
List List List! Write a list of your to dos the night before – add to the list the next morning , but try to do this the night before to prevent the night time sleep wipe from preventing you from remembering anything you needed to do the next day. Most importantly, laugh at yourself. As much as I recognised the danger of me locking my keys in the car, the gratitude I felt that it happened in my driveway – twice in one week I have to say again, lead to a crazy fit of laughter.
I have never peed so much in my life – first and last trimesters I was waking to run to the bathroom at least 4 times for the night. In the days I had to plan my outings based on when I last went to the potty. NO you don’t go to the supermarket unless you are driving passed your aunt’s house so that you can relieve yourself first and then ensure you get home in the next 2 hours to do so again.
What does frequent urination have to do with Breastfeeding? Everything! When you work it out, you will be peeing every 2-3hrs, sometimes less, which is about the same as how often your little one will be feeding. The fact that you have little to no control over a typical bodily function, will be a hint of the lack of control you will feel over your life with your new baby, until you and baby find your rhythm and feeding baby becomes more of a joy than a chore or obligation.
Survival Tips – Remedies:
Go when you gotta go. Do not hold it in! This can lead to UTIs which are especially not good when pregnant, or worse an accidental leak during a sneeze, cough or spontaneous laughter. TRUST ME!
For someone who never liked cheesecake or olives, I gotta tell you they became a staple in my diet. The movies like to depict very odd combinations of food for pregnant women, but most times cravings are for regular and typical meals or desserts that we have access to all the time but just feel the need to have ALL the time during pregnancy.
I like to think cravings are the body’s way of telling Mom to remember herself and to take the time to indulge in her wants also. As new moms we can quickly forget our own desires and wants. Remembering every now and again to hide and have a scoop of ice-cream or find time for yourself to enjoy a glass of wine is just as important to your psyche as an individual, as it is allowing you to continue to treat yourself well, as you learn to care for your new addition.
Survival Tips – Remedies:
Girl…enjoy yourself! This is the one time you can get away with indulging on that extra piece of cake. Just be mindful and do so in moderation. Try to also snack on healthy sweet treats like raisins or carrot sticks. Yes that’s no comparison for pecan pie, but maybe limit your pie intake to a couple days a week rather than every day.
Hormones – Mood Swings
I remember bawling my eyes out after I came home from work to find that my husband had eaten my 2 day old left over pizza. After receiving an earful, he (God bless his soul) listened to me crying like a 4 year old who lost their favourite toy, and then calmed me down. Needless to say, he never touched my left overs again.
With the flip of a switch, you can shift from hysterical laughter to anger to crying your eyes out to a car commercial – Don’t judge, there were many emotional car commercials produced during my pregnancy ok!
Now if no one has said this to you before, take heed now. You will be MEGA hormonal after you have your baby. Your hormones will be out of whack as your body tries to rebalance itself. Warn your significant others – they deserve the heads up. Additionally, welcoming a new soul into the world is an emotional feat to say the least. It can be very taxing and very overwhelming also. Your mood swings during pregnancy are a great pressure gauge for you to assess yourself during the first few weeks with your baby and can help to ground and refocus you, as your deal with the reality of being a new mom.
Survival Tips – Remedies:
Be gentle on yourself, laugh at yourself, laugh with your spouse at yourself. When you flair try to check your emotional reference and see if it is founded, if not go someplace quiet and cry it out – it may be best rather than losing your job. Most importantly take it all in stride and remember to enjoy each moment. Your baby picks up on your emotions also – did you know that your baby’s heart rate syncs with your brain waves. So keep them positive. Surround yourself with positive people. Ground yourself with prayer or meditation and once again learn to laugh!
Making Womb for Baby is a natural process. We find strengths we didn’t know we had during this time. Ancient civilizations and some New Age practices and faiths look on the woman as a Divine being that most go through three critical stages in her life, each with varying obstacles and lessons to be learned. We mature from Maiden to Mother and then we learn and develop into the wise old Crone. Being Mother, is a beautiful stage in life, one to be revered and celebrated. Your body is already preparing you for the moments to come, but it cannot prepare you for the immense love that you will soon feel.
Get ready for it….here it comes….
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