Expect the unexpected and other advice for Moms-to-be

New Hampshire moms talk about their pregnancy journeys

You were a day or two late, and you’re always regular as can be, every 28 days. You did not do just one or two, but three pregnancy tests and yes, it’s true — there’s a baby on the way.

Whether you’re freakishly organized and already planning out the next eight months or so, or simply still in shock, chances are you are reading all that you can to prepare yourself for what comes next. And as soon as the news becomes public, every single person you encounter, particularly women, will have their own bit of sage wisdom to impart. You think you know what’s going to happen, and what your own experience will be, but as these new moms say, your experience is going to be uniquely your own.

Sister-in-laws Kayla Rorick and Kaitlin Berry gave birth just weeks apart earlier this year. While they could certainly celebrate and commiserate as they went through their pregnancies, each had a totally different experience.

Louis Berry

Berry, whose son Louis was born in early March, never realized that morning sickness isn’t necessarily just a first-semester malady.

“The fact you can have morning sickness throughout your entire pregnancy was a real surprise,” she said. Hers didn’t end until the day she gave birth. With a 4 a.m. start time at her job at Target, Berry found that decaf iced coffee with a bit of chocolate actually calmed her stomach a bit. However, there were many days in which the Henniker mom found herself in the bathroom at work, vomiting every 15 minutes. Fortunately, her employer understood and was accommodating throughout her pregnancy.

“My pregnancy was very hard,” said Berry, who dealt with swollen hands and feet for duration of her pregnancy, as well. Berry also had an issue with her hips not spreading in order to meet her growing girth, which necessitated the use of a maternity belt for a couple of weeks to lend additional support. This was something she had never heard of, yet it seemed to do the trick and help her body on its way.

Kayla Rorick learned just how unique everyone’s pregnancy really is. “There is no set in stone timeline for how each month will play out,” said the Nashua mom. “Some women show at three months, while others show at six. Some women never have morning sickness, while others are never far from a bathroom or trash can.”

She said she feels that pregnancy, like childbirth and child-rearing, can become a competition among the women experiencing it.

“I spent so much time and energy being concerned about what veteran moms and websites like BabyCenter.com had to say that pregnancy felt more like a race. When I didn’t meet some average, I felt like I was doing something wrong.” 

She said she felt it was hard not to get caught up in the rush because all of the pregnancy milestones began to make it feel like a countdown prior to the birth of her daughter, Scarlett in late March.

Reese, Talia and Stella

Tali Young is the mom of two daughters, Reese who is almost 2 ½ and Stella, who was born in mid-January. The Dover mom said that even with everything she had heard that nothing can really prepare a woman for a pregnancy.

“Every little weird thing freaked me out the first time I was pregnant, no matter what all of my friends with children had told me,” said Young. One thing she had always heard was that pregnant women had to pee a lot, but nothing quite prepared her for how much “a lot” really was until her third trimester.

“I just remember wishing I would give anything to sleep through the night without having to get up to go to the bathroom.”

And there’s the feeling itself of having this little person inside of you. “I had no idea it would be so weird for me to feel the baby inside my belly. I had always heard about how wonderful and beautiful of an experience this was, but as I got into the end of third trimester I couldn’t help but feel freaked out about it,” said Young. “No one ever told me how I wouldn’t be able to sleep even before I gave birth because the baby inside me would be on the opposite sleep schedule as me. I never knew how much they could move around in there – it was freaky!”

Heather McDonald and family

Don’t think too much about what you read in the pregnancy books, says Heather McDonald, the Windham mom of two young sons, Connor and Griffin. Like many moms-to-be who don’t know what to expect, McDonald spent her entire first pregnancy with her nose in books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” 

“The horrific stories! If I take a bath that is too hot, I’m going to melt my baby! That glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant is going to deform my unborn baby!” said McDonald. “I wish I had listened to the people who told me to relax. I know I did with my second pregnancy – a little common sense goes a long way.”

Flexibility was important when it came to her birth plan. “I was never on the fence about the drugs. I was adamant about going through a natural childbirth free of any drugs,” she said. While she was in labor, doctors kept asking if she wanted the anesthesiologist to come and McDonald kept telling them, “Absolutely not!”

However after the 20th hour of labor and still no baby, once she was told that she was still in the epidural “safe zone,” she acquiesced and deviated from her birth plan.

Regardless of these moms’ pregnancy experiences, one distinct parallel is this: you don’t need as much as you think. Rorick said, “I’ve learned that there is a lot of excess on people’s baby registries. New parents can get along just fine with one less car seat accessory or 10-piece baby outfit that their kid will only fit into for a month. Less is more wins out in the parenting arena. Less steps to think about and less laundry to do mean more bonding time with the baby!”

Charlene Maniotis and family

Charlene Maniotis, a Hudson mom of three, Luke, 5, Olivia, 3, and Joshua, 8 months, realized that women need far less in the way of maternity clothes than they might imagine.

“For warmer months, you can often get away with maxi dresses you already have in your non-pregnant wardrobe. Most of them have high waists, so you belly has plenty of growing room.”  She said that with products like the Tummy Sleeve, moms-to-be can wear their usual shirts for almost their entire pregnancy, and it simply looks like they’re wearing layers and have a light shirt on underneath.

Maniotis learned that parents need fewer things for the baby than they might have thought, too.

“As long as you have a car seat, diapers, wipes, several 0-3 month-size play-and-sleep footie outfits, several onesies, a few blankets and a bassinet of some sort, you are pretty much good to go for at least the first few months,” she said. “Everything else – toys, swings, fancy crib, diaper pail, Baby Einstein CDs – is nice to have, but it’s just extra. Hold off on buying a lot of stuff just because your nesting instinct has kicked in!”

McDonald also learned that she didn’t need a lot of stuff and tells moms-to-be to register for necessities, including diapers. “I lived in baby fantasyland. Once I found out I was having a boy, I went straight to Janie and Jack and little boutiques buying extravagant outfits. I bought a budget-breaking stroller and all sorts of little boys’ toys,” she said.

In retrospect, McDonald wishes she had registered for diapers, wipes and a good breast pump. The designer diaper bag got tossed for a more practical bag that fit diapers, wipes, extra clothes and bottles, and most of the expensive outfits were ruined the first time they were worn. Some never made it out of the closet.

“All we really needed was plenty of interchangeable clothes and the aforementioned diaper bag accessories.”

While these experiences may mirror some of the things you’re going through, or possibly never will, it’s important to note that this reflects the individual experiences of these women. Your pregnancy will be uniquely your own, but yet there’s some real value in what each of these moms learned along the way and the practical advice they are able to impart as a result.

Pamme Boutselis is a N.H.-based freelance writer, a content director at Southern New Hampshire University and a serial volunteer. She blogs regularly at Along the Way. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb.

Categories: Planning for baby