When I found out I was pregnant I researched like crazy: prenatal nutrition, body changes during pregnancy, fetal development, what exercises were safe to do, breastfeeding and especially labor. I knew that things wouldn’t go according to “plan” or according to the books, but I had no idea just how MUCH I was unprepared for. Needless to say I have learned so very much during this season of life!
1. Eating the right foods makes all the difference. I was already gluten free when I got pregnant, but due to my allergies acting up like crazy during pregnancy I ended up going completely grain free by the third trimester. It’s amazing how good I felt once I stopped eating things my body didn’t like! When I stopped trying to “cheat” and eat things I knew I was sensitive to, my nausea got so much better. More than that, I just felt incredibly healthy and well (probably more than I ever have before). I’ve continued my grain free diet after birth because I love how happy it makes my body.
2. Pregnancy changes your body permanently and that’s okay! By cultural beauty standards, my skin is “ruined” with tons of stretch marks and my post-baby stomach flab is unacceptable. But you know what? I don’t really care! I did care very much before Elanor came along, but pregnancy seemed to snap me out of my preoccupation with the world’s beauty standards and made me appreciate my body for what God made it to do (make a human being!) not just how it looks.
3. Breastfeeding is not guaranteed to be easy. Of all the things I researched before giving birth, I probably researched breastfeeding the least. I assumed that it would be instinctual and fairly simple. Oh boy, was I wrong. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (including natural birth). I know that it’s not super hard for many ladies, but for me it has been incredibly painful, problematic and stressful. I’ve had a lactation consultant come out to help me twice and it was worth every. Single. Penny. It’s very slowly improving now, thank the Lord.
4. It is perfectly okay to ask for help. I like to be self sufficient, but I’ve learned to be humble and accept help from my family a LOT lately, whether that’s cleaning around the house or holding Elanor while I sleep.
5. Labor is extremely difficult and hurts like crazy. I was determined to have a medication free, natural, husband-coached, positive childbirth. To that end, I tried to only read encouraging birth stories as Elanor’s due date grew closer. I’m glad that I did, but I think I got a false sense of what labor would be like. It didn’t feel empowering, elating or joyful in the moment, like in many of those stories. it hurt like heck. In the end though, with the constant support of my amazing husband I made it all the way through naturally and med-free. So even though it wasn’t this beautiful, peaceful experience that some other ladies might have, I still did it!
6. Never say, “When I have kids, I’m never going to…”. Because you’ll probably do it. 🙂
7. Your time is no longer your own. I never thought of myself as a very selfish person, but I’ve found selfishness popping up all over inside me since Elanor arrived. When another human being is literally relying on you for their life, you don’t get to just throw in the towel when you’re tired or frustrated. Motherhood is a truly refining experience.
8. I’m not as strong as I thought. I have cried more in these past three months than I ever have before! I’ve learned to lean oh-so-heavily on my husband when I just can’t do it anymore. He always points me back to Christ and reminds me that I don’t have to be strong enough – I just need to lean on Christ and His strength.
9. I’m also a lot stronger than I thought. I never knew that I was capable of going through all of the physical and emotional hardships that I’ve been though. But I can already see that I’m so much better for it. The other day I had a mildly painful experience that I knew was coming up and I was dreading it. Then I realized, “I’ve been through so much worse and been fine.” And suddenly the fear and dread was gone!
10. Mother love is a powerful thing. It’s unlike any love I’ve ever felt for another human being. It is incredibly strong and instinctual, like I’ve always known and loved her. When she’s upset it cuts me to the soul, and when she smiles…no words can describe the happiness that just rushes over me! I love it when she actually makes eye contact and we stare at each other. It usually doesn’t last long, but it’s so amazing to look into the eyes of a little eternal soul that only exists because it was formed inside of you. Pregnancy and motherhood is amazing! I wouldn’t trade it for anything.