Pregnancy essentials.

I tried not to talk incessantly about being pregnant while I was pregnant. Mostly because I didn’t especially enjoy being pregnant, and I hated to say that because there are so many people who are not able to be pregnant who really want to. But the truth is that I did not really like being pregnant. It is not in my personality to be able to enjoy the Mother Earth type aspects of having a baby (and that extends, now, to the breastfeeding, which I am doing, but which does not make me feel like some kind of Earth Goddess or whatever it is that people like about it. It’s nice that it’s working like it’s supposed to. But it is tiring to have him sucking on me all the time). Now that we know that Atticus was 21 inches long (that’s 95th percentile, you guys), I can understand why my ribs were in such pain for so long. That is a long baby to have come from two short people such as ourselves.

atticus: newborn photos

(Obligatory cute baby photo.)

I didn’t read any books about being pregnant or about labor and delivery. I didn’t take any childbirthing classes. I did take a class on breastfeeding, but that was it. I didn’t buy Atticus any clothes (it wasn’t necessary! He had amazing hand-me-downs!) or go crazy at any baby stores. In order to get through, I had to avoid doing those things. Mike had an app that told us what size the baby was every week and what some of my symptoms might be. He was also in charge of Googling anything scary. For everything else, I just depended on my friends. Lots of them have babies, you see. That’s the benefit of waiting until you are in your 30s. More people to ask. More people who are through having babies and who will give you their stuff.

There were a few things that helped me survive those nine months, things that I would happily endorse if asked (though of course no one is going to ask), things I would write love poetry to, as a matter of fact. And before I forget what they were, I thought I would tell you about them. If you are a friend of mine and you get pregnant for the first time, these are some things you can expect me to recommend or send your way.

1. Body pillow. I bought a body pillow at Target at the end of July. I got it on sale. It was maybe the best six dollars I spent during pregnancy, no joke. I loved it so much that I named it Phillow the Body Pillow. Mike was understandably jealous of my relationship with Phillow. Hugging Phillow helped calm Atticus down when he was kicking a lot. Without Phillow, I would have much much more uncomfortable (and I was plenty uncomfortable). He helped my back pain and made it possible for me to prop myself up a little bit more so that my hands didn’t get as swollen in the night (I called them my “paws” rather than hands when I would wake up). At the end, my midwives told me to sleep in certain positions to help make sure Atticus had his head in the right direction. Without Phillow to help me achieve that, I might have had to have a C-section.

And how have we rewarded Phillow now that Atticus is here? Phillow has been banished to the floor. But I still use him when I nap. I will never forsake you, Phillow! At least not completely!

2. Maternity jeans from the Gap. I don’t quite fit into my regular jeans yet, so I am still wearing my wonderful maternity jeans. (My real jeans will button. Ish. But it’s not super comfortable. I’d rather wait a little bit longer.) I bought this kind with a coupon (also it looks like the price has gone up since I bought them) and they were worth every single penny. I wore them at every possible opportunity. I might keep wearing them after I can fit in my regular pants. I might keep wearing them forever. I cannot recommend these jeans highly enough. I wear Gap Long and Lean anyway, so this was the one article of clothing that made me feel the most normal. God bless the Gap. (Or is it just Gap now? It’s very confusing.)

3. Coca-Cola and goldfish crackers. I have been drinking the diet stuff for years, because I felt like I should not drink the calories. But I indulged in regular Coke during pregnancy. It tasted amazing and fantastic every. single. time. There were a few days when it was the best thing that happened to me all day long. I was particularly green in the second trimester, and Coke helped me get through. And I ate so many goldfish that I might not eat them any more ever again. I ate them at the pool by the handful when I could not stomach much of anything else. I ate the Costco sized boxes. Which is, obviously, why the pre-pregnancy jeans don’t really fit yet.

4. The Happy Massager. Okay, the lady in this picture is creeping me out, but click on the picture below her to see The Happy Massager. I got him for Christmas several years ago, and on some of the days when my feet were incredibly sore, he was a godsend. Mike willingly rubbed my feet a few times, but I am actually not a huge fan of asking him to rub my smelly feet at the end of a long day. Happy Massager made it possible for me to take care of my own feet. Near the end, I also soaked my feet in warm water, but since it was winter, it was hard to keep the water warm enough for very long. Added bonus: Happy Massager is just so happy!

5. Fre Wine. Sadly, I only found out about Fre Wine when I was 39 weeks pregnant. Fre Wine is wine that has had the alcohol removed. How is that even possible!? I don’t know, either! It is better than drinking grape juice because it smells like wine and tastes more like wine than juice does. Even better: it has fewer calories than wine! I had it the week after Christmas. I made Mike drive to the store and get it as soon as I read about it on the internet. He brought back two bottles. In fact, I carried my own bottle to the two parties we went to on New Year’s Eve (while I was in labor, haha). It was nice to feel like I was participating in the festivities.

6. A vacation. Okay, I can’t send a vacation to a pregnant friend, but I can recommend that she take one. Our trip to PEI was really important, both as a “last vacation” and as time to get away. I cannot stress this enough: TAKE A VACATION. I know we will have lovely family vacations and all that, but it was nice to have one last vacation with just Mike.

7. Flats. Though the ones I have from Target do make my feet kind of smelly, I never actually had to have Mike put my shoes on. And those small shreds of dignity were important to me there at the end.

8. Yoga pants from Target. You guys. Target has these workout pants that you can buy in short lengths! Which is pretty much unheard of when it comes to workout pants. I either have to buy capri length or I have to get them in the boys’ section, which was obviously not happening due to my enormous size. But I was able to go a size up and wear the ones from Target. Old Navy, for example, doesn’t even carry most of its khakis in short lengths in its stores. I couldn’t get maternity pants in short/petite at Old Navy. But Target had short length YOGA PANTS. Suck it, Old Navy. I am still wearing the yoga pants now. There is no yoga, but there are pants.

Those are the essentials that I could think of, the things I needed to survive. The thing you need the most is, of course, a supportive husband. The aforementioned Googling, picking things off the floor so I didn’t have to, buying the crib because it was stressing me out, suffering in silence as I snuggled with Phillow rather than him . . . Mike was a champ throughout the entire nine months, and he has been a champ the past few weeks as well. You can’t have him, but I hope you have someone like him if you are going to do this whole “bringing a person into the world” thing. I also had amazingly supportive friends who answered intense questions, sent things, passed down clothes, threw awesome showers, and let me cry.

What did I forget that you think is awesome for pregnancy? Massages? A particularly great book? Leggings? I am not planning on being pregnant again, but I would be interested to hear what helped other people survive or what has been recommended to you.

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  1. First, have I mentioned Atticus is so stinking cute? I can’t stand it.

    My list, off the top of my head, from what I can remember.

    I wish I would have had a massage while I was pregnant. I also wish I would have gone to a chiropractor while I was pregnant. I wonder if it would have lessened my hellish back labor. I wish I would have attended La Leche League meetings while pregnant. (Is this cheating?) Ok, things I actually had and loved during pg…. a doula…for the childbirthing…., I very well may have cut my feet off at the ankles had I not have had these for the last two months of pregnancy. I wore them everywhere. Even church. Indeed. , a couple of books I’m glad I had were The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and The Birth Book. Oh, and the book, Baby Bargains. By nature, I am a researcher, and it helped me make a lot of decisions. I loved my cropped yoga pants from Old Navy. Smores. I ate a TON OF SMORES while pregnant.

    I’m sorry to hear the breastfeeding isn’t all roses for you. I guess its been that Earth Mother thing for me, overall (even despite lots of medical issues surrounding it for the first year), although I would never have thought to describe it as such. I pretty much love it, and all of the oxytocin and prolactin surges that go with it. But I am glad you’ve stuck with it and that all is going well, otherwise! I hope it gets more enjoyable for you soon. It is hard sometimes when you feel like you’re being leeched upon 24/7. That probably was a little hard for me, because I’m such a “need alone time” person. There are some good support sources like local La Leche League groups if you ever feel you could use it.

    Posted 1/20/2011 at | Permalink
  2. One really cute maternity dress. I had a knee length black one that was soft and cute and pretty much the one thing that made me feel more attractive than a whale. It was the best thing owned. If I wasn’t constantly yanking my shirt open to breastfeed, I’d still wear it!

    Posted 1/20/2011 at | Permalink
  3. Gosh, he’s adorable. And thanks, by the way, for being able to write about pregnancy without freaking out the single and childless among us. This is good “someday” advice, and it doesn’t scare me off of having kids. (A lot of my friends go into gruesome detail. I try to remind them not to do that when the single/childless gals are around, but they don’t tend to listen.)

    Posted 1/21/2011 at | Permalink
  4. Yes, I second CJ’s thanks. The husband wants kids sooner, rather than later, but I’m still getting used to the whole, body changing/being uncomfortable for 9 months thing, let alone being responsible for a human.

    Loved what you said about letting the man Google anything scary. I’m totally filing that away, because I can tend to be a smidge of a “I’m going to die” when I Google symptoms. And we don’t really want that when I’m growing said human.

    Plus, folks had babies for thousands of years before Google, and managed to come out just fine. Seeing how calm and not so, I don’t know, “squeally” (I know that’s not probably a word, but I’m just trying to figure out how to say that), about having a baby makes me feel so much better.

    I’m girly to the max when it comes to loving high high heels, but I cannot make this biological mother thing kick in.

    Posted 1/21/2011 at | Permalink
  5. Hi, Kari. A friend recommended your blog to me when she found out my husband and I were writing letters to our little baby in a journal. It was back when you were writing to Atticus. I’m sorry pregnancy wasn’t very fun for you. I can’t say that I’ve “loved” being pregnant, but I’ve had a relatively easy one, thankfully. I’m very ready for him to be out of my body, though! :~)

    I definitely echo your appreciation for Fre Wine! I learned about it a few months ago and was so excited! I haven’t needed/wanted any of the other things on your list, but our chiropractor has been a lifesaver. I started going at around five months, and I haven’t had ANY lower back pain (I’m in my 38th week). My upper back pain is pretty much limited to the same aches I had before pregnancy. He also does stretches with me to prevent sciatica, and as far as I can tell, they’re working!

    Posted 1/21/2011 at | Permalink
  6. Susan

    Target ALSO has yoga pants in tall. I love them for it, because before that all I could find, anywhere, were uber-expensive ones online. Yay Target!

    Posted 1/21/2011 at | Permalink
  7. I’ve just got to say that I’m SO glad I’m not the only female on earth who hated pregnancy and couldn’t wait for breastfeeding to be over. I mean, I hated to complain with pregnancy b/c I was never sick and had zero complications, but I hated feeling like my body was forcefully taken by some alien being from within. And breastfeeding…well, it was kinda magical (in the sense that my body was actually making stuff to sustain life and I didn’t have to wash bottles), but I got SO tired of sitting still for such long periods of time. There were many days when I felt I could actually relate to milk cows better than actual human beings. Still, I know it was a very good thing (and I did actually have mixed feelings when I started to wean my babes).

    Okay, glad I got that out of my system. *Rant over* Keep calm and carry on…. 🙂

    Posted 1/24/2011 at | Permalink
  8. this post made me laugh out loud several times. i love phillow…why haven’t you told me about him before?!? except that you knew how hard you would make me laugh now, and you didn’t want to deny me.

    also, i think you should write a book (this is of course another one, besides the other ones i’m always telling you that you should write) about not really liking pregnancy and babyish stuff. i would have read that book, because i was absolutely one of those people. and there’s really not stuff like that out there? you know?! why isn’t there?!? (can you sense my voice getting louder).

    Posted 1/24/2011 at | Permalink
  9. Oh my gosh this post just made me so happy. I found you via Annie’s blog, and I can tell I already love yours. My hubby and I aren’t quite ready for kids, but I always worry that somethings wrong with me because my “maternity instincts” have yet to kick in. I don’t look forward to birth. Or pregnancy. Or any of it! haha I want kids, but I’m not super excited about the whole pregnancy thing. Thank you for making me feel more normal. : ) I can’t wait to read more!

    Posted 1/24/2011 at | Permalink
  10. Shannon

    Like many other commenters, I find it refreshing to hear your honest ambivalence about pregnancy and nursing. I feel similarly; I love my son, but haven’t loved all the processes that he requires. For me, sustaining another life has often been astounding and hilarious, but not necessarily enjoyable.

    Access to a pool was my saving grace during pregnancy. Floating in the water helped me feel normal when I felt enormous on land, and I credit my relatively quick labor to the vertical float that a physical therapist friend taught me.

    Posted 1/24/2011 at | Permalink
  11. Kristin

    You’re in your 30’s?!?!?! I thought you and Mike just graduated college! I just started reading your blog and it is great. You and Mike are so cute that I had no idea you were real, too. All of my life I’ve wondered what I was supposed to be when I grew up, and the night I had Emily, I knew: Emily’s mom. I was an engineer, a raving feminist and had no desire for a traditional female role. After Emily my priorities turned upside down. I’ve traded engineering for teaching, I’m still a feminist, but more open minded about traditional females, I still need to be by myself several hours a week and fortunately Brian and Emily know this. Your friends and family will help you to not get “lost in motherhood”.

    Posted 2/8/2011 at | Permalink

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