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Candle in the Night

Monday, July 29, 2013

10 Things to do as SOON as You Find Out You're Pregnant

I've seen several lists like this and they're all very sweet.  Think of creative ways to tell people...think about names...aaw...  But I've never seen a really practical list, so I thought I'd make one.  I'm 14 weeks pregnant right now and there are several things I wish I'd done as soon as I found out I was pregnant that I didn't do.  So here you are.  The PRACTICAL top 10 list!

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1. Make Freezer Meals!  Some of you may think you should tell your husband you're pregnant before you begin filling the freezer, and if they're home when you find out, sure, go ahead!  But if they're at work when you find out, don't wait!  Go to the store, buy the ingredients, and start cooking and freezing!  Why?  Because as soon as the morning sickness hits, you won't want to be making meatloaf or washing chicken pans, or mixing a bunch of ingredients together.  With both my girls, morning sickness hit at six weeks, so I planned to use week five to prepare freezer meals.  This pregnancy, the morning sickness hit at four weeks.  So...I have nothing in the freezer and am having to cook...not fun.

My mixer!  Love, love, love!!

2.  Buy (or make...) Snacks!  While you're at the store, pick up lots and LOTS of snacks!  Healthy snacks that you'll be able to eat with little to no preparation.  Get a wide variety because what sounds good one day may make you throw up the next!  Here are some of my favorites.  Cheese, crackers (graham crackers, cheese-its, peanut butter filled crackers, saltines...), prunes, muffins, popcorn, tortilla chips, peaches, apples, and bread (for making toast).  This is pretty much what I've lived on in between meals for the past 10 weeks.  And eating in between meals is super important.  It really helps keep the morning sickness from taking total control.  (You could also buy stuff to make snacks if you're that kind of person.  I like to do some of both!)

One of my favorite snacks this time around is salty foods!  I LOVE pretzels right now!
These are some delicious ones I made last year.  Yum!

3.  Tell your family!  Obviously, you start with our spouse.  Then your extended family.  This is one of my favorite parts about being pregnant.  The surprised looks, the's all so wonderful!  (Now for some of you, your family may not be quite as supportive.  In this case, you probably want to wait on this one)  But I love telling the family.  Many people encourage you to wait to tell because if you miscarry, then you have to tell them about that as well.  Obviously, this is something to think about.  For me, I knew that if something happened to the baby, I would want my family (and even my friends!) there to support me.  I wouldn't want to mourn in secret.

Eeeeeeeeeee!!!  One of the best sights in the world!!!

4.  Talk about money.  This one isn't quite so fun, but is just as necessary!  When I got pregnant with H, we were well prepared.  We'd planned on getting pregnant and had good insurance.  Brian had a good job and we knew that I'd be quitting mine to stay home.  Everything was planned.  When I got pregnant with M, we'd raised our insurance deductible considerably and we were in panic mode a little bit thinking about saving up for this baby.  But in all reality, you have nine months to save up money.  (Well, probably less since you'll likely have to pay some of the fees about halfway in.)  Talk to someone whose been in a similar situation to find out how much you can expect to pay.  There are LOTS of expenses that might surprise you if you don't find them out ahead of time.  Find someone who had the same type of birth you're planning to have (hospital vs. home, OB vs. Midwife, natural vs. medicated...) and also has the same coverage as you have and ask them to share with you how much they paid.  Then, make a plan.  With M's birth, we did some budget adjusting and Brian worked some overtime and it all turned out fine.  The sooner you get the money issues sorted out, the sooner your pregnancy can become relaxing rather than stressed.

5.  Find a health care provider.  When looking for a birth team, the most important question you can ask is, "Are they on my way home from work?  Will visits be convenient?"  Right?  WRONG!!!  This is how I ended up with Dr. Jerkface with H's birth!  Ask yourself what type of birth you want.  Where you want to deliver.  Make a list and then go do some interviewing.  Ask mommy friends who they used for their deliveries and what kind of experience they had.  There is a huge, HUGE difference between OB's and Midwives and you'll want to check out both.  Midwives don't just provide home births.  I had M in the hospital with a Midwife (or I would have if she hadn't been out of town) and with this pregnancy, I'm seeing a group that has three Midwives and one OB.  Do LOTS of research before you choose your provider.  There's no need to get in to see someone as soon as you find out you're expecting.  Usually they like to see you in the first trimester sometime, but if you find out you're pregnant at 4-5 weeks along, that gives you 9 weeks or so to do your research and choose a provider.  If this is your first birth, you really want to figure out what type of birth you want before choosing someone.  That was one of my major errors with H.  In the beginning of pregnancy, I thought it'd be nice to have a natural birth, but if it didn't happen, I was okay with that.  By the end, I'd done TONS of research and knew I wanted a natural birth, but I had chosen a provider who wasn't on board with that.  I can't encourage you enough to start your research early on.

The irony of this picture is amazing.  This was not my chosen health care provider.
My chosen provider was on vacation when M. made her appearance, so this
amazing nurse delivered her instead.  She was great!  

6.  REST!  Okay, this one should really be interspersed throughout, but during your first trimester especially, you should rest, rest, rest!  If you have other children, nap when they're napping (I write as my two girls are napping...) or at least sit down and be off your feet!  Don't try to keep up with the house.  Laundry can wait, dishes can wait, dusting and vacuuming can wait.  You need your rest.  And don't feel bad about it!
Pregnant with H. and exhausted!  Napping with Ellie was just what I needed.  :)

7. Accept Help.  This is a tough one for me.  I know many women who have pregnancies that are much worse than mine, so for me to accept help is hard.  Several weeks ago, someone at church approached me and asked if I'd like to have meals brought in.  What a blessing that was!  I accepted and every three days, a fresh, hot meal was brought in the evening for my family (and me if I was feeling up to it) to eat.  During this time, my house was usually a mess, but it didn't matter.  All the women had children of their own and know what it's like to be too exhausted to clean up anything.  And that leads me to another blessing during this time.  My mom (who is wonderful!) came over and cleaned my house from top to bottom for me during a time when I was at my worst.  She brought along two of the wonderful ladies from my church and they were a huge help.  When I found out they'd seen my house (and refrigerator!) at its worst, I was pretty embarrassed, but as I thought about it, it realized my embarrassment was more an issue of pride than anything.  I was humbled by their willingness to help and to bless me in such a way.  Another day, I'd mentioned on Facebook how difficult breakfast was for me since I'm feeling the worst in the mornings and the girls always want to eat anyway and a friend offered to bake me muffins.  At first, I turned her down because I'd already received so much help, but in the end, I accepted.  Because I really did need it!  My point here is, accept help.  Don't be too proud to admit you need it.  And if people offer to help, but don't jump right in and do it, let them know what you need.  Ask for help with cleaning or baking or whatever it is.  You need it during this time.  And most people love to be a blessing to others!

8. Don't forget the fun stuff!  After all the previous things, I thought I should probably remind you to do the fun stuff.  It really, really helps with survival.  On a feel-good day, take a walk through Babies-R-Us.  Look at all the sweet baby things.  Take a picture of your pregnancy test and your baby bump once it starts to show.  Journal your thoughts and feelings.  Start a Pinterest board (even if it's just a secret one!) of things that you want for your baby's nursery.  Dream about holding and rocking your baby.  Pick out some names you like.  Enjoy this time as best as you can.  If you're like me, you'll be doing lots of laying around, so you might as well make the most of it and enjoy think about your baby.

Babies are so much fun!!  Start dreaming!!  

9.  Spend time with your spouse!  Wow!  You're still married!?!  After being sick, busy, and exhausted, you may forget!  The other night, Brian and I went bowling, just the two of us.  It was such a blast!  It's very important to stay connected during your pregnancy because if you're not close while you're pregnant, it's not like a screaming, pooping, eating newborn is going to bring you closer.  Work on your relationship.  Spend time together.  Talk.  Cuddle.  Just don't forget each other.

Brian and I the Christmas before H. was born.  Enjoying our last Christmas on our own.  

10.  Trust God.  Okay, so this should have been #1.  Being pregnant is scary.  You're growing a new person in your tummy.  You're fully responsible.  But God is still in control.  If you're having pregnancy troubles, or even if you're feeling fine, there are fears associated with pregnancy.  The only way to deal with those fears is to trust God.  He is in control.  He loves you and your baby and knows you both better than anyone else.  He cares for you.  And He is in control.  He knows the beginning from the end...of each of our lives.  Just trust Him.

Right after M's birth.  Things were crazy...her labor, delivery...everything.  But
God was in control.  He had everything taken care of.

So there you have it.  My top 10!  What would you add to this list?  I'd love to hear your ideas!  And I'm sure other mommies would too!

Make sure to check out my post about the 5 Newborn Necessities as well for another great, practical list!

I have received some good ideas from facebook readers of things to add to the list, so here they are!  
11.  Stop smoking and drinking and start eating healthy!  ABSOLUTELY!!  I guess I didn't include smoking and drinking because...I don't do either of those things.  :)  And eating isn't something I do much of in the first trimester anyway.  I eat what I can and try to keep it as healthy as possible, but sometimes a bowl of popcorn covered in salt is all I can stomach and I just tell myself that's okay because at least something is staying down.  

12.  Start drinking LOTS of water!  YES!!  I totally should have included this one!  I haven't been able to stand the taste of water this pregnancy.  Usually, I'm a big-time water drinker, but I was actually having dehydration headaches this time around until I bought some lemons to squeeze into every glass.  Made a world of difference!  

13.  Hire a doula.  This one I didn't think of for a couple reasons.  First, I kind of think of a doula as someone you hire later on in pregnancy.  It doesn't HAVE to be one of the first 10 things.  :)  Second, I don't use a doula for my births.  I have a fabulous support team in my family, lots of people to talk to and ask questions and get ideas from during labor, and a doula isn't the most important thing for me.  That said, if I had an infinite amount of money, I'd DEFINITELY hire a doula!!  And if I didn't have such an amazing support team, I'd DEFINITELY find the money to hire a doula!  So yes, look into a doula for sure.  They're amazing at supporting your birth choices and helping you have the most comfortable, relaxing, enjoyable birth possible.  (Just as a side note...I aspire to be a doula someday when my babies are all a little older!)  

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At July 29, 2013 at 9:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many things are different now than they were when I had my babies about 40 years ago. But many are the same, thankfully. Yes, I thought "tell your husband" would be #1 - I would call him at work!! lol And mourning a miscarriage in secret is how they did things in the bad old days -- you shouldn't have to do that alone if that is what happens. Food, rest, help, those are all wonderful things ... where did all that help come from? That's great if you have a church family who are so supportive! Thanks for a wonderful column. This Grandma enjoyed it. Oh, and BTW, you and your hubby are always "a couple" no matter how many kids you have :) God bless you and your new kidlet :)

At July 29, 2013 at 9:28 PM , Blogger Jessica said...

Elaine, Yes, my church family is amazing! They are so, so supportive. Many of them have more children than I do and they understand what a pregnant mama needs. :)

lol! I like to tell my husband in person. It's so fun to see his reaction, I wouldn't want to miss it.

And another lol! I guess I should have someone proofread! My husband just read through this and said, "Our last Christmas as a couple?? That sounds bad!!" I didn't even catch it!


At July 30, 2013 at 8:48 AM , Blogger Mary @ Better Than Eden said...

A friend posted this on Facebook and this is great! As a doula, I cannot endorse number 5 enough!! SO important to find someone who truly supports you in the birth that you want and doesn't just give lip service. I hate saying this but it really is true that choosing the provider is so critical in what kind of birth you have. Ask around a TON and don't be afraid to switch even at the end!! I also love your take on telling people. I agree that I want people to know about our little baby right away, especially if the unthinkable DOES happen. Great post, Jessica!

At July 30, 2013 at 8:56 AM , Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks Mary! Yes, with baby #1, I should have switched when I realized the dr's didn't support my birth plan, but I don't think I realized that you even COULD switch that late in pregnancy. That and I figured I'd just be fine during labor. Not the case... :)

At July 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM , Blogger Diane said...

LOL! "Last Christmas as a couple..."
I didn't catch it, either... because I know what a wonder couple you were, and STILL ARE!! And the photo gave me happy tears.

But I LOVE the "REST" photo!!! It cracks me up! And impresses me that Brian thought to grab the camera. :) Good job, Brian!!

In the fun stuff, I would add having fun with your other children, but I know you have... Going to the zoo when you weren't really feeling well, plus all the extra snuggling you get from them!!

I'm SOOO happy you love to tell your family, because yes, one way or another, we are ALWAYS here to support you. My girls are the very best!!!

p.s. I am the only one who was in the refrigerator. :)

At July 30, 2013 at 9:49 AM , Blogger Adrienne F said...

Fun list! I'm just shy of 8 weeks with my seventh, and after two miscarriages, telling everyone was hard. I didn't mourn in secret... but I didn't have to talk about it with the world before I was ready either. Cooking ahead sounds like a great idea! Unfortunately, the dreaded nausea has already hit, and with six young children, supper is just about all I can handle these days. Live and learn!

At July 30, 2013 at 10:06 AM , Blogger GracefullyCreated said...

Wow, I found my soul mate! :) I never thought of #1, it would have been SOOOO helpful this time. I've had pretty much the same experience with sickness/tiredness this time around, and have with most of my kids. Thanks for your post! With all the snacking I do I feel like a junkie! And my kids want to know why they don't get a snack every time that I do, mostly because they wouldn't eat their meals if they did. OH well, it wont last forever, right?

At July 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM , Blogger GracefullyCreated said...

Wow, thanks for the post. I feel like a junk food junkie with all the snacking I do. Mostly what It seems like I can eat are salty (chips and garlic toast), and sweet (Toast with jam or honey or bear claws). Often what my body tells me I can eat is something we don't have in the house. Maybe I should find a little more variety to stock up on.

I love your #1, it would have been great this time, I haven't even thought of freezer meals for morning sickness! I never use them for after baby because I have no problem cooking then. My biggest difficulty is the 'Slug Stage' of morning sickness/tired. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who get's that way! :D Thanks for your post.


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