I want to begin this post by thanking you! So many of you followed my pregnancy journey and gave me the most genuine support and advice! I’m so humbled by the amount of kindness that I received, and it really helped get me through some of the harder times during my pregnancy.
I’m going to structure this post into three sections since it is a bit lengthy and folks may want to skip around. I hope the momma’s out there can relate to my journey and those that are pregnant (or planning to be) can learn a thing or two from my experience. Feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions or want more info! The internet is an amazing tool but sometimes there’s just such a plethora of information out there that it can be overwhelming, and you may not know where to start. I’m by no means an expert, but I am always here to offer my advice or lend a listening ear.
Section 1: 9 months of torture – I mean, bliss!
I’ll be completely honest and confess that this wasn’t a planned pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant after purchasing two wedding dresses (over $10K each!) and planning a romantic elopement in Santorini. Oops! I never once regretted it, I just crossed my fingers I would still be able to fit into my dresses and have a little sip of wine on my wedding day!
Pregnancy is truly amazing and beautiful, and I can look back on it now with fond memories of my little one growing inside of me – but at the time, it wasn’t all fun and rainbows. I miscarried during my previous marriage, so I was constantly on edge and terrified that something would go wrong again. And you’d never know it from my posts, but I had almost every single pregnancy symptom!
During my first trimester, I had nausea that lasted all day. I barely had an appetite and all I wanted to eat were oranges! When we got married in Santorini, we first went to Paris and Athens. I was sick on every single airplane ride and when we finally arrived in Santorini, my jaw hit the floor because I was not expecting there to be so many stairs! Luckily, I fit into my wedding dresses just fine and my wedding planners were so helpful and accommodating!
I enjoyed my second trimester the most. My bump was finally starting to show – yay! I didn’t look like I had a food baby anymore! We also found out we were having a girl and I was over the moon at each ultrasound when I saw Sophia’s heart beating and little legs kicking about. I enjoyed all the attention I got from strangers and my co-workers – it was a boost when people told me how great I looked or that I was glowing. It was also fun shopping for maternity clothes that showed off my growing bump! Towards the end of the second trimester, I caught a lot of colds since my immune system was getting weaker from the pregnancy. Despite that, everything was progressing well, and my husband and I had fun tracking the baby’s weekly progress – “She’s now the size of a pomegranate!”
The third trimester was the hardest on me. I developed a stuffy nose that made it impossible to function during the day or sleep at night. On top of that, I had the normal third-tri symptoms: peeing all the time, a huge belly that gets in the way of everything, and Sophia was growing so big that she would often kick and bruise my ribs. I also had a preeclampsia scare. I was gaining a pound a day, I would get out of breath so easily, my feet were so swollen that they wouldn’t fit in my shoes, the joints in my fingers hurt so badly I could barely drive – it all sounds glamorous, I know! I also waited too long to take my baby moon. We went to Florida for the warmer weather, but I was so tired and nauseous that we just stayed at the hotel most of the time. My advice is to take your trip towards the end of your second trimester while you’re still mobile enough to enjoy it! I found myself counting down the days until Sophia would arrive.
Section 2: The birth of Sophia and post-partum
Throughout my pregnancy, I didn’t have any Braxton-Hicks contractions. Because of this, I was worried that I wouldn’t even know when I was getting a labor contraction. That wasn’t the case! A week prior to the due date, I woke up at 3 am with contractions that were already 3 minutes apart. OMG! This was happening! It was time to go to the hospital! I arrived at the hospital and was already a few CM dilated. I was given an epidural that eased the pain of the contractions and everything seemed to be going great. I was reading magazines, texting my friends, and watching TV. The doctor checked up on me a couple of hours later and said with the way things were progressing, I would have the baby before noon. Well, noon came and went, and everything stalled. The epidural wore off and I could feel every single contraction. They gave me another epidural and even gave me pain meds that should have knocked out a horse – but none of it helped. I was balled over in pain and vomiting, sweating, and shaking uncontrollably. The baby wasn’t moving along any further, my water hadn’t broken, and I started to worry and pleaded with the doctor to do a c-section. The doctor told me to wait a bit longer, and then she would reassess. A few hours passed, and the doctor came back to check up on me. She told me I was finally dilated enough and could begin to push. My husband was standing next to me, feeding me ice chips and holding me as everyone in the room told me to push. They had a full-length mirror by my feet, so I could see all the progress that I was making with each push. My head was spinning – I would finally meet my daughter! After 18 hours of intense labor, Sophia finally arrived on 3/5/18 at 8:41 pm. She weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz. and was 19 and ¼ inches long. That first night I could barely sleep. I kept holding Sophia and looking at her in both awe and disbelief that I was able to create this beautiful being.
Over the next few days, reality started to kick in. I tore very badly from pushing and it was extremely painful to sit or stand. I gained over 50 lbs. during my pregnancy and was frustrated that I still looked like I was pregnant – your uterus takes time to shrink, and the fluids need to be flushed out of your body. No one ever warned me about me this! I also developed “mommy’s thumb” from picking up the baby and putting so much emphasis on my fingers and wrists. It became so bad that I couldn’t even pick up my baby or brush my hair. I ended up having to get cortisone shots from the doctor to relieve some of the pain and it eventually went away.
The last thing I want to share about this stage is to beware of all the mommy shaming. It’s often fun and tempting to join online forums for expecting mothers or seek out advice from friends and family. But remember that pregnancy is not a one size-fits-all. What works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. A very specific example for me is breast feeding. After a couple of weeks, I made the decision not to breastfeed for my own personal reasons. I was afraid to tell my friends and family because it is often looked down and frowned upon – for absolutely no reason at all! I did a lot of research beforehand, and the online community can get downright mean about this! Just because you make the decision not to breastfeed does NOT mean you are selfish. It does NOT make you a bad person. Formula milk will NOT negatively impact your baby. Always follow your mind and heart – you alone are in charge of your own body.
Section 3: Life now and how it has changed
Since Sophia has been born, I can definitely say that my life has been turned upside down, but in a good way. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to cope with all the changes, but after a short time you start to develop your own rhythm and figure out what works best for you. You often hear all the stories about how life changes once you have a baby, but it never really clicks until you actually have one!
- Free time is now a thing of the past. It literally does not exist anymore! When Sophia is napping or goes to bed at night, I dash to get the laundry done, clean up emails, etc. Time management is now your best friend!
- Don’t get discouraged when you can’t accomplish the list of things you planned to get done for the day. I’ve always been a big fan of lists and crossing things out when I finish them. I was often frustrated when I would only cross one or two items off. Realize that the day will never turn out the way you expect and pat yourself on the back for accomplishing whatever tasks you can – it’s a full-time job taking care of a baby, after all!
- Your fun, single friends are still there for you, but don’t really want to hang out with you as much! And this is totally ok! Nights out at the club every weekend till 3AM really aren’t my cup of tea anymore and I’m sure screaming babies and wet diapers at upscale restaurants aren’t their cup of tea now either! Your friends will always there for you, but the friendship evolves – brunches and mani/pedis are always a good idea! I’ve also developed closer friendships with those that have children because at this phase of my life it’s nice to talk to and get advice from different mom’s and to plan activities together since you’re now on the same bedtime schedule!
- Anything you used to do will now take you at least 3 times as long. For example, getting ready in the morning to go out: Get yourself dressed (it’s not the easiest to put on a little makeup and brush your hair amidst a screaming baby!), get your baby dressed, pack your diaper bag (milk, wipes, etc.), remember to put the stroller in the car, change the baby’s diaper and feed one last time before leaving the house. Whew!
- You now come second. And I don’t mean this in a bad way! When you don’t have kids, it’s easy to go shopping with friends or take 3 hours to get your hair done at the salon. Now, your baby’s nap and feeding schedule take priority. It’s very important to remember to take time to yourself (I know, easier said than done!) and get a massage or go to the spa. Your mind and body will thank you!
- It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to cry A LOT. It’s not easy taking care of a newborn! You’re dealing with a ton of changes and it can get overwhelming sometimes. Don’t be afraid to let it all out – it’s only temporary and shedding some tears will feel so good afterwards!
- You develop different interests. I still love girly things like makeup and shopping, but without trying to sound too cliché, the most important things to me are spending quality time with my daughter and getting in all the kisses I can! The joy I get from seeing her smile or making her laugh are priceless.
Fast forward to today! Sophia officially turned four months on July 5th and I marked that as my milestone to return to work. Going back to work was a difficult decision for me. I worried about being able to balance everything. I worried about spending less time with Sophia. I worried (and still worry) about missing some of Sophia’s firsts – first word, first step, etc.
But this entire journey has taught me that no matter how big or small the worry is, everything will eventually sort itself out and life will continue to go on just as it should. Life is truly a gift and its beautiful reminders like the birth of Sophia that make everything in this world completely worth it.