Pregnancy Survival Kit

This past year, I navigated my first pregnancy with our daughter, Della. There were a handful of items that were absolutely essential to surviving pregnancy for me, and I’m sharing them here for any women thinking about conceiving, first time mamas, or seasoned pros.

Mamas, what would be in your pregnancy survival kit?

Blanqi Maternity Leggings

BLANQI Maternity Leggings. The best maternity leggings ever. Period. Incredibly soft and comfortable, able to dress up or down, viable for working out, and don’t make you feel like a beached whale. I stumbled upon these through an Instagram feed of another mama and purchased them during their Black Friday 50% off sale, but they are currently on sale for 30% off. Trust me: the quality is worth the price tag. I wore these almost daily throughout the second and third trimester and they are still in good enough shape I could pull them out if I was pregnant again.

Calm Calcium Magnesium Supplement. Two recommended nutrients while pregnant (or any time!); and effective for one of the most frustrating side effects of pregnancy: constipation. Gross, I know, but very real. This is a fizzy drink. It doesn’t taste great, but I found it much more effective than any over-the-counter stool softeners. If you’re pregnant, just buy it now on Amazon or at Target and thank me later. You’re welcome.

Tums Chewy Bites. Heartburn during pregnancy is a beast. Increased progesterone production during pregnancy relaxes the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, hence leading to heartburn and acid reflux. Crazy, right? THE MORE YOU KNOW. Not to mention the baby shifting your organs around. No big deal. Y’all, I am all for natural remedies for this sort of thing. I googled natural remedies for heartburn and tried a handful: apple cider vinegar, pineapple, peppermint tea, ginger, honey, sleeping on my left side, elevating my head, eliminating problematic foods and beverages…no go. Chewy Tums are the best and don’t taste like chalk. They even have a limited edition peppermint flavor if you are pregnant over the holidays. So festive.

Pick a heating pad, any heating pad. Weight gain concentrated in the front of your body leads to back pain. I experienced back pain that intensified throughout my third trimester, and by the last month or so, was almost constant within an hour or two of waking up until I went to bed. Make friends with your heating pad as it will help ease the pain when painkillers aren’t working. If you don’t have one, get one.

A good pregnancy pillow. “Why aren’t you sleeping?” was a question I was asked often during pregnancy. Hmm, I don’t know, I would think. Could it be the severe heartburn? The growing belly and limited sleep positions? The tiny human kickboxing my pelvic floor?

I bought a pregnancy pillow when sleep became uncomfortable as my belly grew during the second trimester, and it was absolutely invaluable. It also helped with postpartum sleep as maneuvering, even in bed, is difficult post-cesarean. Cost around 60 bucks at Bed Bath & Beyond and worth every penny.

Baby Building is Sacred Work

“I promise to love you in every form you take.”

I spoke the words aloud as I touched my smooth, muscular torso. I was 3 weeks pregnant.

My body slowly expanded. When I stood in the shower months later and couldn’t see my toes, I touched that swelling torso again. “I promise to love you in every form you take.”

Months passed. Internal organs rearranged themselves to make space for the life taking up more and more room inside of me. Heartburn kept me up for sleepless nights in a recliner, running to the bathroom with acid bubbling up my throat.

Pain crept in and intensified as Braxton Hicks and lower back pain were present almost daily throughout the third trimester. These bodily sensations were an unfamiliar and unwelcome guest.

I had promised to love the form of my body, not the function.

As the end of pregnancy drew near, my body became foreign to me in both form and function. It had journeyed miles away from the powerful, pain-free athletic vessel I was accustomed to living in. Pain and weakness had rarely been present in my physical body, so this body felt like someone else’s, as though a body swap had happened without my consent.

A light switched on one day as I thought,“You are doing sacred work.” I stepped mentally outside of my body and recognized it as being on a special mission, a not-so-secret assignment. I was simply a passenger along for the ride, and the changes in form and function, although extreme, were only temporary; needed for this assignment.

In the end, I kept that promise to my body, pledged days after seeing those two pink lines. Okay, I mostly kept it. I also learned a valuable truth:

My body is not who I am.

My body is not who I am. It is both part of me and separate from me. Through that truth, I could accept (not love or embrace wholeheartedly, but accept) the changes it was experiencing on its special mission of baby building.

Because baby building is weird, painful, lonely, beautiful, sacred work. And I am grateful to have been along for the ride.

The Golden Hour

Ah, the golden hour.

That magical hour after childbirth when your brand-new infant is placed on your naked chest for skin-to-skin bonding, the first breast feeding of liquid gold, and contented bliss for mama and child. Or at least according to hundreds of mommy blogs on Pinterest, which CAN’T BE WRONG.

Enter reality, stage left. Waking up hot, suffocatingly hot, and asking my partner if the baby was still inside of me. (Spoiler alert: she was not.) Cussing at the sweet nurse, Jessica, when she massaged my just-had-a-tiny-human-cut-out-of-it uterus, which felt rather like my uterus was bread dough and she was the baker. Blinking my eyes to see three of everything but my baby. BABY WAS NOT PRESENT.

What? No magical golden hour? No bonding immediately after she was pulled from my depleted, aching body? No breast feeding colustrum, the perfect first food? No precious child in sight? Nope, nada, no.

Eight hours later, I was wheeled into the newborn nursery to see that darling baby. She was absolutely perfect. She was also on oxygen, hooked up to an IV, and covered with sensors. I painfully pushed myself to standing, and gazed at her with tears running down my cheeks as I blabbered on about her nursery and her dogs and everyone who couldn’t wait to meet her. Mama cried. Daddy cried. Our hearts filled up with that overwhelming, instantaneous love you can’t explain until you experience it yourself.

These post birth hours and minutes looked nothing like what I imagined, read about or planned for. My experience was not like the pregnancy books or mommy blogs said it would be. But in the end, even with the unplanned surgery, the baby in the nursery, and the long wait: it could not have been a more golden hour.