your mileage may vary

When you’re pregnant, everyone who’s been there before you likes to pass on the “real” story of what pregnancy is like. While I think everybody’s experience is different, hearing the first-hand experiences of others did help me get over some of my fears. I think I also kept a lot of worries at bay by sticking to this philosophy:
Assume that everything will go well with your delivery. If you start worrying about things that can go wrong, you WILL be worried about the wrong things. Then you will have spent all that time being scared for no reason.
Thanks to genetics and luck, I had a relatively easy pregnancy and delivery, but there were a few things that surprised me along the way. Here’s how a few of the major issues played out in my case.
Morning Sickness: It’s way more real than I thought. I always thought pregnant ladies were making a big deal out of nothing, and should just toughen up. Stupid karma.
Delivery: Actually, it was kind of great. It hurt really a lot, especially at first when it was too early for drugs, but it was exciting and the end product makes you forget a lot of the bad parts. The whole thing was over pretty quickly. The actual pushing is the part I was most worried about, in terms of pain, damage to my body, and loss of dignity. The epidural and episiotomy I talk about below, and the loss of dignity was doable. I made them put the mirror away, and Blake and my mom were the only non-medical personnel in the room (and they stayed up by my head). The whole pooping on the delivery table thing isn’t worth worrying about. Seriously. As Andrea said, that’s how you know you’re doing it right.
Epidural: AWESOME. I didn’t have any bad side effects, and it was much more effective in terms of pain relief than the narcotics I got through my IV earlier on. I could still feel when the contractions were happening, and I could still push. The epidural mostly meant that I started having fun and getting into the excitement of the birth, rather than being so concerned about the pain.
Episiotomy: No big whoop. I found out later that Blake pushed my epidural button to give me some more drugs as soon as the doctor told me he was going to do it, and I’m sure that helped. Getting in and out of my hospital bed was sketchy, and later the healing was a little itchy, but it’s got to be better than a tear, right?
Recovery: Maybe I was overconfident, since I felt like I handled pregnancy so well. I came home from the hospital swollen all over, sore, and bleeding. I feel a lot better now, but it’s been four months and I still don’t feel back to my normal self. Maybe I never will. Carrying that weight around stuck awkwardly to the front of your body for nine months takes a toll on your bones and muscles. Also, there’s no getting around the fact that there’s a lot of healing that has to happen.
Postpartum depression: I don’t remember feeling depressed, but I did feel very overwhelmed at times. Everything would be fine, and then suddenly it would all be too much and I would burst into tears. I think the thing that really helped me through it was to have Blake by my side, constantly telling me what a great mom I am. (Thank you, sweetheart.)
Breastfeeding: It was really hard to get started, and I had to be really motivated to do it. The pump, nipple shields, and help from a lactation specialist were essential. Now it’s easy to do, but I’m always tied to the baby or to a breast pump.
So, there you have it–probably more than you wanted to know. Sometime before I forget too many details, I plan to post the whole story of Nora’s delivery.