What I Wish I Would Have Known For My First Pregnancy. . .

It’s funny I feel this way because advice has been abundant. I was beginning to think I’d heard every possible suggestion when even my husband’s single friends joined in the fun. To my surprise one rambled on about folic acid and sincerely scolded my husband, Will, for not feeding me more bananas. The advice came from every direction—parents, friends, ward members, younger siblings, long-lost relatives—you name it. Now I can’t help but join them with some pregnancy advice of my own.

How to Handle Advice
Ironically, I wish I would have known what to do with all the advice! Although overwhelming at times, advice is wonderful. To me, it’s a sign of people’s genuine love and concern. Instead of disregarding it or letting it become a nuisance, feel flattered by it. Besides, more advice is always better than less.

However, advice can get tricky if you’re like me and want to please others by heeding their recommendations. Know in advance that this is an impossible feat. Of course, there are some pieces of advice such as, “Make sure to eat well and get your rest,” which everyone will agree with. However, other advice is going to be more controversial.

For example, during my last semester at BYU I was the special sections editor of the university’s paper, The Daily Universe. Part of my job required me to generate story ideas for the feature pages. Because I was pregnant at the time, I naturally thought it would be interesting to do a section about pregnancy. One of the stories I ran was titled, “The Natural vs. the Epidural Decision.” You wouldn’t believe the letters to the editor that followed! I realized then what a controversial topic it was. The letters were passionate and even condescending at times. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have one’s parents telling you to get an epidural and one’s in-laws telling you to have a natural delivery. Who would you listen to?

Listen to yourself. With contradicting advice coming from every direction, do some research and decide with your husband and Heavenly Father what is best for you—that’s the greatest advice I ever received.

Making the Announcement
I wish I would have known what would come with making the announcement that we were expecting.

One of the most fun things about early pregnancy was telling our families. Everyone was so genuinely happy and excited for us, but I honestly had no idea what I was in for. The first person I told was my mom. I could hardly wait. I said something like, “Guess what? We have good news!” To my surprise, my mom’s reply was, “Oh, I already know.” I was speechless. I was hoping for something more to the effect of shock and then ranting and raving. “You already know? What do you mean you already know?” I asked her, dumbfounded and disappointed. “Oh, I could just tell,” she said with a smile in her voice. Basically, my mom and I had a conversation about me being pregnant without my ever having to say the words, “I’m pregnant.” I quickly learned there’s no formula to how people will react to the good news.

My mother’s thrilled yet unsurprised reaction was not the only part of telling others that came as a surprise to me. I also didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to tell some of my best friends. Normally, I’d look forward to telling my girlfriends any good news, but two of them had been trying to have kids for years, and a third just recently had a miscarriage. I hadn’t been married a year yet and was already expecting. Although I knew they’d be genuinely happy for me, I didn’t know how to tell them. I felt so relieved when I finally worked up the courage.

So, my advice for sharing the news in difficult circumstances is: don’t put it off. Your friends would much rather hear the good news from you than from some acquaintance the two of you have. Also, don’t ignore the fact that this is probably hard for them to hear, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to celebrate with you.

Maybe these aren’t the exact situations you’ll encounter, but know ahead of time that making the announcement doesn’t always go as planned and isn’t always easy.

Shopping for Maternity Clothes
I wish I would have known how awkward shopping for maternity clothes can be. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m a shopper. There are few things I enjoy more than a new outfit, but the first time my husband Will and I went shopping for maternity clothes was short-lived. Maybe it was the first-time jitters that made me uncomfortable. All I know is I had no idea what to do. Everything looked so huge, including the price tags.

I’ve since learned that part of my problem was my choice in a shopping partner. As much as I enjoy being with Will, shopping for maternity clothes isn’t exactly his thing. My advice is to shop with someone who already has kids or is also expecting. When I went maternity shopping with my mom later on, I had a blast. It helps to have someone who knows what type of clothes you’ll want, or at least someone who can relate.

Another great way to avoid maternity shopping altogether is to borrow from someone who’s planning on having more kids but isn’t pregnant at the moment. I was so grateful when my cousin offered to let me look through her maternity clothes. What made me feel better about taking advantage of her wardrobe was to lend her some cute summer dresses that wouldn’t be fitting me for a while. It was a great bargain. I didn’t have to spend a fortune on maternity clothes and she had some new summer outfits to spice up her closet.

What’s in a Name?
A different cousin and I were pregnant at the same time and at a family gathering she asked me what baby names I had picked out. I listed off several and then reciprocated the question. “We’re not telling” was her reply. My initial thought was, “Rude!” But now I think, “Smart!” I wish I would have known to consider keeping potential baby names to myself. If you do decide to keep your baby name ideas secret, you avoid having your number one baby name ripped to shreds. I know it shouldn’t matter what others think, but it’s hard to avoid the influence of outside opinions.

When visiting my family during my pregnancy everyone wanted to know what names we’d picked out for our future baby girl. We told them we’d narrowed it down to Olivia and Isabella. So my little sister changed her MSN screen name to, “Isabella or Olivia, which do you like better?” From then on we got a report on which name all her friends preferred. It was a constant topic of debate. One evening, during one of our more passionate debates, half of my six siblings were rooting for Isabella and the other half wanted Olivia. To ease the rising tension, we decided to let the baby decide. Will would say both names and if the baby kicked we’d know. He said Olivia and she kicked! (We named her Isabella.)

Then again, those light-hearted debates were a lot of fun. Just know that not everyone will like your idea of the perfect baby name and most everyone will let you know.

The New Me
I wish I would have known that there are some things about a post-pregnant body that you can do nothing about. Consider me vain, but honestly, one of my first purchases after finding out I was pregnant was stretch mark lotion. It didn’t work for my best friend or anyone I knew, but I had to get it just in case. And no, it didn’t work! No matter how much you exercise, how much water you drink, how many desserts you forego, your body will probably never be quite the same. And that’s okay because you’re new little one will have been worth the sacrifice. However, although pregnancy may set back your figure, continue to do what you can to look your best. It will take some time to get back to what you were, but it’s worth it. You’ll be a better mother, wife, and person if you do.

What Do You Think, Honey?
While writing this article I began wondering what my husband thought about my being pregnant. Now I wish I would have asked him sooner. He had some good advice for soon-to-be fathers.

First, it was fun to sit down and hear what he thought some of the perks of having a pregnant wife are. “The perks are that family and friends try to extend a hand of service to your wife and you get some of the benefits,” he told me. “It’s also a perk to be able to talk and plan with your wife about your future and your expectations. I don’t know, some people might dread that, but I thought it was fun. It’s fun to spend time with your wife going to doctor’s appointments, and then it’s also a good opportunity to be able to serve your wife since she’s normally serving you. You gain a greater appreciation for what she does for you.” Before you decide I’ve married Mr. Perfect, he also mentioned some pregnancy disadvantages.

“Cons are unexpected mood swings—just deal with them,” he says. “Take them as given and remember that they’ll get over it. Other disadvantages are that your wife’s decreased bladder size creates inconvenience.”

He also advised soon-to-be dads to make sure they know the expectations and perceptions of your spouse before, during, and after pregnancy. For example, how to raise kids, how many kids you both want, how you will discipline your kids, etc.

My personal favorite was when I asked him what the most valuable advice he’s received is.

“I’ve been advised to treat your wife as a queen because you can never go wrong with that,” he says.

Of course, I think that last bit is terrific advice. (Wink.) I also think it’s smart to sit down with your spouse regularly to talk about how things are going. Pregnancy will go a lot smoother for both of you if you do.

Bonding During Pregnancy
Finally, I wish I would have known that bonding with your baby doesn’t begin in the delivery room. Bonding takes place throughout pregnancy, too, and the more the better.

There’s nothing like hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, or feeling her kick! I even felt greater attachment to our baby as I went shopping for all the things she’d need. But what made me feel closest to my baby girl before she was born was praying for her. It’s never too soon to pray for your kids. And that’s the single best thing that’s helped me throughout this new journey to motherhood, and I think it will come in handy down the road, too.

I’ve found that when my husband and I knelt down together in prayer at night a very special love for our baby developed as we prayed that she would grow properly and have everything she needed. This isn’t something anyone ever told us to do, it just kind of happened naturally—as I’m sure it does for most people. But in case you didn’t think of it, my advice is to pray for the baby inside of you. Heavenly Father sent you this precious little one and will help you get through pregnancy and the many rewarding years to come.

I know much of the advice I’ve given may be less important than knowing when you should first see a doctor, what type of exercising is okay during pregnancy, and how to get the best medical insurance. I figure those are things your doctor, friends, and family might think to tell you, as well as what you might think to ask about. Instead, I picked a few additional aspects of the pregnancy journey I thought you might enjoy reading about. It’s just some of my personal experiences to remind you that it’s a personal journey that can be humorous and fun if you have the right outlook. Happy (upcoming) birth day!
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