Updated: Dec 12, 2017
The greatest lesson I learned during pregnancy and overall child rearing is you have to have thick skin and laser focus. Too many people get so caught up in what others think, feel, and say to them that they forget this is their time. When I was pregnant with my first child I would get mad if anyone even looked in my direction, if anyone tried to touch my belly, if any one tried to give me advice.
By the time I was pregnant with my 4th baby I focused only on myself and while I allowed people to give me their advice, well wishes, and belly rubs I didn't let any of it phase me. I had to walk my own path because at the end of the day, my husband and I were the only ones raising these babies.
My greatest fear: I had a super terrible fear with each birth of dying during child birth. Though it is a very uncommon thing, thankfully, I had two classmates that died during childbirth and it put a horrible fear in my head. Before going in to have the babies each time I sat down with my husband and mother and told them my wishes. With 3 of the 4 births every time I got close to the pushing part I had a major panic attack thinking I was going to die. I wold have to get oxygen, I would vomit, and I would cry uncontrollably.
My greatest triumph was my last completely unmedicated birth. My husband, who runs, told me to think of this as my tough mudder. Looking back I wish I would have done all 4 of my babies this way.
There was something so empowering of feeling every single pain, every single contraction that ran through my body. It was amazing to see how the body really does take over and you have no control. There was no need to tell me to push.
My body did it all on it's own. I remember everyone in the room telling me to wait because there was no doctor, but I couldn't wait. For thousands of years women have had babies unassisted, my body had the power of all my ancestors coursing through it guiding me autonomously, I didn't need anyone to tell me what to do, my body knew.
My greatest pleasure was always the first 48 hours in the hospital with my child. I always told my husband I wanted him to go home. My husband is 6'4 and I knew he would always be uncomfortable sleeping at the hospital, plus with each additional birth I wanted him there for my other babies. I selfishly used this time to soak in every inch of my newborn baby. I also used this time to have someone bring ME a drink, bring ME a meal, and cater to me. I also felt a little guilty knowing I was hoarding the newborn baby but will always cherish those first 48 hours where I got to be in my own world with the baby.
My greatest surprise was how much I truly loved and missed being pregnant. I loved every kick, every flip flop, every ultrasound, and every doctor appointment. I loved knowing I was growing a person. I even was surprised to realize I missed morning sickness. With my 4th baby I did not have morning sickness and did not feel her kick until I was 20+ weeks. Without the sickness and the kicking I always worried if she was still in there.
Greatest advice: Don't compare yourself to others. Whether it be belly size, how early you feel the baby, when the baby is born how fast they talk, walk, run and then sadly leave to live their own life. Cherish it all. Quit making it all a contest. I remember when my first daughter was born I wanted her to do everything so fast. Say mama, crawl, walk, run, know your ABC's, count to ten. Now with my fourth, I often joked that I was going to bind her feet so she couldn't walk. Life goes by so fast, pregnancy goes by so fast, and memories flee us before you really get to burn them into your brain or heart. Let life happen as it does and don't compare it to others. This is your life. YOUR PERFECT LIFE, so this is how it is made to be lived.
By Jen Carmichael