How to "Survive" Pregnancy According to One Novice

I have decided to write a summary of answers to questions that a few friends and strangers have asked me about my pregnancy. Consider this the
Alex Steele Survival Guide to the weirdest thing I've ever done. This guide is what I would have loved to read on Day One of my pregnancy, so it's written to myself. If you don't like it, that's okay, because it's not written to you. It's written to me. (But I hope you like it because I think it's very good.)

First trimester:

- If you feel like you're starving every day for 6 weeks, that could be a sign you're pregnant, so the test is right. Believe the test.
- Prepare to barf or be nauseous. Most people are. If you're one of the lucky ones who evades the nausea, like my mother, enjoy a steak and rejoice in your blessed digestive system.
I tried all the remedies out there. You will try anything if you're desperate enough, trust me. There are zillions of things that people say miiiighht cure you, but most of them didn't cure me. The only things that helped me (and they didn't make me fell 100%, but they did help me be functional) were:
  • Ginger ale and saltines. the crappy cheapo kind of saltines made of bleached enriched flour and salt. Not the buttery kind or organic kind. The cheapo kind. And whatever ginger ale you like. I prefer strong stuff, like ginger beer, but Canada Dry usually did the trick for the most part. This was essentially the only food I ate for several weeks, and my baby now, some 30 weeks later, is giant, so don't worry that she's not getting nutrients. Somehow she is. Also, don't take your prenatals. They are making you sicker. Women had babies for thousands of years before prenatal vitamins existed, so don't worry too much about not taking them and don't let people guilt trip you about it. You know your own body best.
  • Lemonheads. A nurse at my practice mentioned this one while sucking a gallon of blood out of my arm and I was actually pretty surprised by it so I decided to try it out. I don't know what it is about them, but Lemonheads did help a little.
  • Wearing a Prima Bella bracelet. A friend lent hers to me and it was really helpful, especially along with the Diclegis (see below). I am the type of person who HATES taking medicine if there is anything I can do to avoid it, so I was thrilled she shared her band with me. I recommend it if you're going on a boat/plane/etc. Or if you like homeopathy/ not putting chemicals in your body.
  • Diclegis. Some people I love and trust recommended Zofran, which worked okay, but it kind of took a major toll on my body, and just felt too strong for me.  Lots of baby blog commenters recommended a B-12 and half a Unisom, which didn't do anything for me except make me grumpy. My doctor had some free samples of Diclegis and it worked like a charm. Took it for about 18 weeks.
  • Breathing exercises. I just googled some that told me how to count and my breaths and alternate between using my mouth and nose to inhale vs. exhale.
  • Laying on the couch.
- Bring a granola bar with you EVERYWHERE you go. You never know when you'll need to eat a bite, even if you've been feeling sick and have no appetite. You will be amazed at how your body 'talks' to you. You could be walking down the street and all of a sudden you will just KNOW you have to sit down immediately. You just have to. Or you will be driving and know you're going to throw up. So you just pull over and throw up. (Goodbye, dignity! I'll miss you!) Do not leave home without food or some plan to obtain food while you're out. Because when your body tells you to do something, you just do it.

Second trimester:
- If you haven't already, start a baby journal. I'm so glad I have been writing stuff down since day one. But the second trimester is when I really started gaining more weight and it's interesting to look back and see what I was feeling/ doing.
- You will feel and look bigger at nighttime, usually.
- Start eating whatever you want now that you can keep it down! Not that you weren't already planning on doing this. Do not be alarmed if you see yourself eating as much as or more than Nate. Growingababy.
- Buy bigger clothes.
- Expect to start forgetting things the second they enter your head. It's weird and I was sure it wouldn't happen to me but it did. And it's annoying. I try to write everything down now. Everything.
- Read a lot. It's interesting to read what other people have to say. Obviously there are some lunatics out there but reading people's personal stories/blogs/etc. helps you feel more normal sometimes. And yes, What to Expect When You're Expecting will be your trusty BFF. I also like reading articles on BabyCenter and checking baby's growth/progress on the iPhone app Sprout.
- COCONUT OIL. USE IT. Alright. I am a FIRM believer that coconut oil prevents stretch marks. I'll tell you why. Not only have I read lots about it and met women (witch doctors?) in Fiji who swear by it, but I have proven it via my own skin that it works. It WORKS. Here's how I know. As soon as my belly started to really show, like around Christmas when I couldn't wear ANY non-maternity shirts anymore, I started rubbing coconut oil on my belly. I did it about once a week. (Now I'm at week 35 and I do it every time I am getting in the shower, which I started doing in third trimester.) I would rub it on and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then swipe it all off really well with a towel and shower off the next morning. And guess what. No stretch marks. BUT one day around week 28, guess who discovered dozens and dozens of stretch marks--dark, grumpy, purple ones--covering her entire butt. This girl. SHOULDA PUT COCONUT OIL ON THERE, LADY. Lesson learned.
- Buy bigger clothes.
- Walk and exercise as much as possible. It gets harder. I didn't have the energy mentally or physically to be very active in my first trimester, and even though I was feeling pretty round in my second trimester, I am glad I gave my muscles a little extra use to help prep me for my third trimester when they essentially would become jelly.
- You will be hungry 15 minutes after eating a large meal. You will become one of those people who orders an appetizer, entree, and dessert and asks for a bite of whatever your husband is eating. Prepare accordingly.
- Buy bigger clothes.
- Take your time at ultrasounds. You won't get very many (I only got three from my doctor, and one from a place who told me the gender at week 18), and I wish I had spent a few more minutes at each one, because it's pretty cool to see your tiny baby in there. And bring your baby daddy with you!
- Read to your baby. It's fun. And studies say it makes them smarter. It certainly can't make them dumber.
- Don't do anything drastic to your hair. You'll miss your old hair and want it back, even if your old hair was stupid.
-Buy. bigger. clothes. If you are trying to fit into normal clothes, whether to save money or 'look cuter,' you will be miserable. It's a terrible idea. Just buy bigger clothes and be happy. You're going to get huge.
(I recommend a few staples: a belly band (Target), maternity leggings (Target), regular leggings, some basic t shirts (Gap, Target), bigger bra (I went from a 32A to a 34C, yikes), dresses from Asos, anything from Asos really, good finds at Topshop, and most of all, Hue jeans! They're the best thing in. the. world. Amazon $40. Totally worth it.)

Third trimester:
- Prepare to stop sleeping.
- You will now run into EVERYTHING. And you will be clumsy. And awkward. And you will have no balance. It will frustrate you. See below about surrendering abs.
- Expect to wake up approximately twice every night to pee.
- Prepare to surrender your ab muscles entirely. Learn to use legs, arms, and husband as replacement for abs.
- Your skin will get extremely itchy at night and you will be extremely uncomfortable because of it. The only way to relieve it is to strip down to bra and underwear and sleep on a super soft blanket.
- One of the coolest things ever is feeling the baby move around. One of the cutest things ever is seeing her dad light up when she "high fives" him.
- Heartburn really sucks. Buy heartburn medicine. Prevacid has seemed to be okay? But there's probably something better out there. Once I run out I'm going to try something else.
- If you don't like your doctor, switch. Best thing I ever did. My doctor was very knowledgeable, but I had a few problems with her. First, she made me feel like I was kind of an idiot. She didn't really answer my questions very well, and she would kind of brush off my concerns as if they were silly. And maybe they were, but for heaven's sake I'm 23 and doing this for the first time and my mom lives 2,000 miles away and please just tell me "Good question! Here's how you should feel about that." Second, she would consistently take an hour or more before I got to see her, not apologize for being late, and then spend about 6 minutes with me and make me flustered so that I couldn't remember the questions I had prepared (see pregnant brain, above). Third, she passive-aggressively told me I was gaining too much weight. Sorry, ma'am, I too wish I could stop eating so much, but I'm STARVING. Lay off.
- Mentally prepare for strangers to stare at you, really stare and talk about you at full volume as you walk past. Also prepare for people who don't know much about pregnancy (ie your little brothers, your doorman, the Elders at church, the bus driver, etc.) to feel confident in pointing out to you how large you are. These people may try to convince you that you must be farther along than you are (oh, wouldn't it be nice if they were right!), and they will seriously and intently question you about whether you are sure of the number of babies you are storing in your belly. (Just smile.)
- Buy some pretty lingerie. It's the only thing that helps.
- Make out a lot. That helps too.
- Write down all the things that happen. Your doctor will ask you about them, and it's good to know the answers as specifically as possible.
- Braxton Hicks are real and they hurt. If you feel the surface of your bump get really hard and tight and painful, that is a Braxton Hicks and it will be back.
- If you feel like something is wrong, you might be wrong, but it's better for the doctor to tell you for sure that you're wrong than to sit there freaking out that you might be right and something really is going wrong. So call your doctor and go in, even if you think "They're going to tell me everything's fine." Let them tell you. That's why you have a doctor.
- Weird things will happen to your body. All kinds of weird things. Just accept that they're happening and don't worry about them.
- Buy the stroller and car seat on Craigslist. (Instead of paying $1120 retail we paid $450.)
- Baby won't feel like she's floating and occasionally kicking/ punching you anymore. She will feel like she is taking up every square inch of room in there and every movement is like a bowling ball sliding on ice.
- Embrace the fact that you kind of waddle now.
- It's okay to not feel that pretty all the time. That's life. Don't let it bother you.
- Everyone else you see is going to look amazing and you'll feel like they only gained weight on their belly, and they'll talk about how they don't know why people bother buying maternity pants because they still fit into their jeans and you'll want to punch them. You'll see women who post about being 30 weeks along who look like they just swallowed a very large grape, and you'll think how sucky it is that you're so massive and how is it humanly possible for them to be so skinny still. Well. To that I say, go back and look at photos of yourself the last several months. You'll laugh when you look at them and remember thinking how giant you felt. Because you were smaller than you are now, back then. If only you had known that you would be hiding a basketball under your shirt very very soon! And you start to believe you actually don't look that big sometimes. (HAHA) And who cares if you get giant. You're going to be a mom. You're a woman and pregnancy 100% takes over your body and there's no fighting it, no matter how annoyingly cute Olivia Wilde looks on the red carpet at 31 weeks (jerk). Also remember that all those people who look so cute probably have a slightly bigger shopping budget than you because your shopping budget is zero. It's kind of amazing that your body is able to grow a human being, and it actually takes a lot of skill. Be proud of the scars and marks that your body is taking on. You've never had to be humbled by physical imperfection before and this is a good lesson in not being so vain.

I'm not going to have my birth photographed (except some by my mother), but I will write my birth story here sometime.

Hopefully some of my experiences will help somebody somewhere someday. I'll make Nate write the boy version in another post.

Can't wait to meet this little lady. She's worth all of it.

(This picture sneakily hides some of how big my belly is. But not really.)
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