I loved being pregnant. Yeah, it was uncomfortable and awkward and weird when random strangers wanted to touch my belly, but for the most part, it was really cool knowing that God was forming a tiny little person inside my own body! And I learned a whole lot about life in the process.
For those of you who are pregnant, or have been pregnant, or ever will be pregnant…here are 10 things I learned along the way. Feel free to add things to this list in the comments section!
Don’t just pray for your baby to be healthy and your pregnancy to go off without a hitch – pray for wisdom as you and the hubs make financial decisions, as you choose a healthcare provider, as you deal with insurance…if you don’t think you have time to pray now, believe me, it doesn’t get easier! Don’t forget to pray for things like your son or daughter’s salvation and for their future spouse. It’s a precious thing to tell your little one, “I’ve been praying for you since before ou were born!”
2. Play music for your unborn baby.
I’m a music teacher. So, I was pretty deliberate about beginning my daughter’s musical education earlier than most would think possible. I strapped headphones to my belly and started pumping in the Mozart and Beethoven as soon as her tiny ears started processing sounds. But she also was listening to me playing the piano and my choirs rehearsing at school for many hours each day. I had heard that babies, once born, can recognize music that they had heard in the womb, and about 5 weeks into Julia’s life on earth, I put this theory to the test. She was being fussy, so I decided to try playing a recording my choir had made before she was born of a song that we’d rehearsed every day for months. I could not BELIEVE what happened to her countenance and demeanor!!!! She totally remembered it. Fortunately, I had videoed her reaction the first time I played this “Ride the Chariot” song, and it’s pretty amazing:
3. Don’t freak out about baby gear – people will really give you everything you need. Besides, you don’t even need most things right away. And for any remaining necessities, there’s always Craig’s List! I love Craig’s List. I got a roommate on Craig’s List once – no joke.
Anyway, we got a crib and changing table for only $125 total because we bought them used and they’re exactly what we needed! Some things I’m not sure how I feel about getting secondhand, like car seats and cloth diapers, but can I tell you how excited and grateful I was for the CLOSET full of hand-me-down clothes Julia got?
And you really can trust the Lord to provide. For example, a nursing glider was one of the things on my list that I soon realized wasn’t really affordable. But then, one Sunday morning, one of the little church choir ladies leaned over in the middle of rehearsal and said, “I want to buy you a rocking chair. Do you have one yet? Pick out a real nice one, and I’ll give you the money.” I couldn’t believe it – I’d been lamenting my glider-less state just the day before! It was God’s way of reminding me that He really does care about the details. And He must have known how much I’d love that chair – I spent 8 hours a day in it for many weeks, and I still use it more than any other piece of furniture in my house! (Well, maybe besides my bed. Although on some particularly fussy nights, I feel like I spend equal time in both.)
4. Read everything you can…but don’t believe everything you read.
I borrowed, bought, and was given a ton of books about pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing, and I read pretty much all of them. And they all said different things. So, I probably ended up just as clueless as when I started about some things (parent-directed feeding? hypnobirthing? attachment parenting?). But at least I had all the possible tools I needed to make decisions when the time came.
5. Live it up – enjoy your hobbies, go on dates, and sleep in while you can!
For me, this meant that I crafted up a storm, right up until the day before Julia was born. And good thing, too – I wouldn’t end up attempting another sewing project for months!
As far as going on dates is concerned, I can’t tell you how important it is to spend quality time with the handsome guy that started this whole thing. I have to say, birthing a child and caring for a newborn doesn’t really leave a girl physically or emotionally inclined towards romance, so those extra candlelight dinners during the months before the world flips upside-down will have to tide the two of you over until things settle down a little.
6. If you’re a teacher, have a “name suggestion box.”
Meet some of my wonderful, mature, well-behaved students.
Hey, we all know that there are a few questions that pregnant ladies hear multiple times a day. “How are you feeling?” “When’s your due date?” “Is it a boy or girl?” “Have you picked a name yet?” The last one was the hardest for me to answer. We really didn’t want to tell people the names we were considering, in case we changed our mind, and in case any well-meaning friends or relatives wanted to tell us how much they disliked our name choice. But my students were very, very, interested in knowing after which of them we would name our child, so in order to stop all 117 of them from asking me every day, I made a little “name suggestion box” for my classroom. Any student was welcome to suggest names for our baby. I even had little pink forms for them to fill out, complete with the parameters for our name selection process (no names beginning with P, no weird spellings, no one-syllable names, etc…)
Not only did this slow down the daily barrage of questions, but it got the students excited about participating in our lives, which is a great way to build relationships and trust. (This is important to me – you can read why on my “about me” page.) It was hilarious to look through the forms at the creative and sometimes VERY unorthodox names which were suggested by the middle schoolers in particular (Chocolate? really?). One 7th grader must have thought it was some sort of vote, because he filled out 23 forms, all filled out with the name “Alena.” And then there was the occasional gem I would slip into my purse for Mr. Poole and I to actually consider. All in all… it was really fun. And the three different students who actually suggested “Julia” were ecstatic when they found out what we named our girl!
7. Drink tons of water.
I’m serious, I drank close to one gallon of water every day for the last 2 months of my pregnancy. My faithful pink water bottle followed me through thick and thin during those hot summer weeks, because believe me, I was NOT going to be the girl in the hospital with false labor because she was not drinking her daily 92-120 ounces. Hydrating also made me feel a lot better, and it’s a habit that became even more important to keep once the baby came and I was breastfeeding.
8. Leg cramps? Chest pain? Insomnia? Multiple nighttime trips to the bathroom? Welcome to your new sleeping regimen.
Who knew that someone this tiny would have such bizarre side effects on one’s sleeping patterns? I had heard that I’d be “uncomfortable” as my stomach got huge, but I definitely wasn’t expecting the leg cramps. Or the pain near my sternum when I tried to roll over. Or the fact that sometimes I’d wake up at 3:30 and just be wide awake. Julia was just getting me ready for life with her outside of the womb. How considerate.
9. Go on a Babymoon.
Since we’d honeymooned in the Smoky Mountains, Mr. Poole and I decided to take one last trip to that area of the country – just the two of us. We went at about my 32nd week of pregnancy, which was perfect timing because I had finished the school year, but I wasn’t so huge that my midwife was afraid I’d go into labor. I brought my sewing machine, and we rented some pretty cool places and stayed with some awesome people in Georgia, Asheville, Chattanooga, and Pensacola. We did a lot of hiking, since that’s the sort of thing you do in the mountains, pregnant or not. I guess it wasn’t a bad idea to try to get into shape if I was going to push that baby out the next month, but I was still preeetttyyy sssslllooowwww climbing up some of those hills. Mr. Poole was totally patient with me, and we both had a really special time as just the two of us. I am so so so glad we did it.
10. Accept help from others, and accept the fact that life is going to have to slow down.
Look at this beautiful photo from the sophomore mission trip of all these great students hauling logs to help needy families:
Notice anything about this photo? Ummm… how about the fact that I’M NOT IN IT?
Do you want to know how frustrating it was for me when I went on this mission trip with these amazing kids all fired up to bless the less fortunate, and I was told that because I was pregnant, I was not allowed to even touch a single log? (These are the same students I chaperoned on their freshman trip, as I wrote about here.) Instead of helping, I had to be the photographer. And watch everyone work together making great progress, knowing that I didn’t even get to help. This was difficult for a fast-paced person like me who LOVES to help and do and take care of business herself. The worst feeling is when I have to sit by and watch someone else doing something for me. UGH!
Newsflash: having a bowling ball inside your stomach will indeed cause you to be slower at doing some things you used to do pretty fast. Before being pregnant, I had a reputation for literally running around campus. Hey – having as many responsibilities as I had kind of required me to be in two places at once sometimes, and if I could get there faster by speeding up the tempo of my heels on the tile, why waste time? And for SURE the world was going to collapse if I couldn’t make it from the chapel stage to the sound booth in 3.56 seconds.
Needless to say, I eventually had to stop running, lifting, and carrying, and there were some afternoons when – guess what? – the papers didn’t get graded because I collapsed on the couch without even taking off my teacher badge as soon as I got home. Slowing down my life was important, not just for the health of my baby, but for my own soul. It’s important to learn how to accept a gift. After all, I can’t earn my way into heaven by sheer will, effort, and diligence. Salvation is a free gift, and any attempts to earn it by doing good deeds and trying really hard to be righteous only cheapen the priceless gift that Jesus bought us with His blood. Being pregnant and having to accept the fact that people were going to start doing things for me purely out of the goodness of their hearts was a good reminder of God’s grace towards me.
Hmmm, you think this blog post is long enough yet? I’m sure there are plenty of Lessons from Pregnancy that I left out, so feel free to chime in your two cents. And please don’t get scared away by my ginormous post. I promise that most of them won’t be this long.