Our first pregnancy is so magical, draped in mystery and the unknown…and if we pay close attention it can teach us so much about ourselves and even about life. I was a childbirth educator and doula before I ever became pregnant for the first time and I was surprised at how much I learned with my first pregnancy….

1. TICK TOCK TICK TOCK – that’s the sound of time moving forward. It’s constant, unrelenting. Time is always moving forward. Never again will I be 5 years old, never again will I taste chocolate for the first time, never again will I experience the thrill of meeting the man of my dreams, never again will I experience the overwhelming feeling of finding out I am pregnant….and never again will I be pregnant with this baby once it is born. It is a temporary gift that passes so briefly it’s like a whisper in our lives. Tick tock…whether we want it to or not, time is passing. When I was 40 weeks pregnant I didn’t notice the passage of time, I only dreamed of when the pregnancy would be over and I would be holding my baby. But time passes whether we are looking or not…tick tock, tick tock….and I got so focused on having the baby born that I didn’t give thought to the fact that the time of pregnancy is precious and I was abusing the gift I had been given by looking forward to the next one. This time with your baby is limited…it’s rented time….and one day you will look back and wonder why you rushed yourself and your baby.  When you are at the end of your days and looking back on your life…this is as good as it gets!!!  Prime of your life, waiting for your baby to be born…why are you rushing it?   My baby is now 11 years old and a “woman” in most definitions of the word…..tick tock, time passed too quickly. I learned with subsequent pregnancies to enjoy being PREGNANT as much as I knew I would enjoy the baby!

2. DON’T WORRY/BE HAPPY – we can worry ourselves senseless…and where does that get us? I worried if I had morning sickness that I wasn’t keeping enough nutrition down for the baby, then worried if I didn’t that something was wrong with the pregnancy. I worried if I gained too much and I worried if I gained too little. I worried if the baby moved too much and I worried if I didn’t feel the baby for a short period of time. The fact of the matter is that worry doesn’t improve outcomes. Worrying about something doesn’t make it not happen….it only robs you of the ability to enjoy the fact that you aren’t having problems. I distinctly remember when I realized that if something bad happens I have all of my life to deal with it….so until it does, I will not worry about it and instead dedicated myself to celebrating that things were going well!! So much energy can be wasted by second guessing our bodies….I learned to be joyous rather than worry about what isn’t happening.

3. IT’S ABOUT ME – This is about me and my family! I needed to have a care provider I was comfortable with, invite only those people I knew would benefit me in some way to my birth, and made decisions that I felt was right for me regardless of what other family members or friends thought. I had to live with the memory of my birth forever, I had to assume responsibility for my choices, and I shouldn’t – and couldn’t – do this for someone else. It wasn’t about them, this time it is all about me. I dedicate my life to helping others…but when I’m pregnant, it’s about ME and MY baby!! I learned that others will forgive you for making choices they don’t agree with…a lot easier than I will forgive for listening to them and having an unhappy outcome.

4. SLEEP IS PRECIOUS – I didn’t realize what a deal-breaker lack of sleep could be…but boy did I learn! I can handle many challenges – until it comes to lack of sleep. At the end of pregnancy I learned to do anything I needed to in order to get sleep. I also learned what a difference that can make to the birth outcome as well as the immediate postpartum period. And sleep doesn’t have to come when the sun is down – God gave us 24 hours for a reason, and naps can be our friend. Sleep…sleep….sleep…..

5. IT IS WHAT IT IS – I learned that the story that was was about to unfold was completely out of my control. My labor was going to begin whenever my baby and my body deemed the correct time and no amount of guessing and hoping would change that. I learned that my labor would be exactly as long as it took for my body to birth my baby and placenta and not a single moment less or more. I learned that all of my questions would be answered in time – how would labor begin, how would it feel, how long would it take, how would I birth – and rather than focusing on trying to learn that which is impossible to learn beforehand, I should focus on enjoying the blissful anticipation that can come with the unknown. I learned that I had little to no control over the events of my birth – other than how I treated myself and my baby! Pampering myself, taking moments through the day to rub my belly and tell my baby I love them, creating a beautiful beginning to my baby’s birth story through what I chose to do in the days/hours preceding labor. Controlling what I could…and releasing control over things that had nothing to do with me. I learned to stop asking the question, “how much longer would I be pregnant” and learned to enjoy the fact that very little in life can give us the excitement of the unknown as that can. “How much longer” when in labor – when the only answer is “as long as it needs to be to get the baby out”. I learned that sometimes we need to stop looking for answers and start respecting the fact that we don’t NEED to know in order for it to be perfect.

A lot of what I learned in my first pregnancy was to undo a lot of what society programs into us – to fear the unknown, to question our body, to fear childbirth, to control. I found that the lessons my first baby taught me helped to create magical experiences for her siblings’ pregnancies and for that I thank her.