January 16, 2007


"The time has come," my mother said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And how you need to get pregnant this year while your husband is in a non-deployable state instead of waiting until this arbitrary date in the future that you picked out years ago which you know darn well coincides with when he will start galavanting all over creation."

I'm scared to death of raising a child. I know it's something I want to do, but I wanted to keep it in the vague future. Someday I would be a mother. But someday is upon us, and my mother is right: I need to start thinking about specifics if we're really going to have a family.

I called a friend of mine from Germany, the least-likely mommy I know. This is the couple who hated being around children and always said there's no way they were up for parenthood. So when they decided to get pregnant, I wasn't sure how they'd fare. They PCSed, so I never saw her pregnant or anything. I knew that she was the one to ask the tough questions about babies, instead of constantly talking to Angie (pbuh), who would come raise my babies for me if I'd let her. I called her to ask her how motherhood is treating her and to get the Real Scoop on things.

She loves it.

I was shocked that this girl has taken to motherhood, and she said that knowing what she knows now, she wouldn't have waited so long; she would've done it years ago. I was just floored. So I figure if they can love it -- the least gung-ho parents I know -- then I can love it too.

Nothing's happening today, dear readers, but inshallah we'll be on the road to parenthood by the end of the year.

My friend called me back today and gave me some tips on things she wished someone had told her. She mentioned back-strengthening exercises, something I never would've thought of on my own. And it made me think that others might have some good advice for me as we start this journey.

So what advice do you have for someone who is thinking of getting pregnant?

Posted by Sarah at January 16, 2007 10:36 AM | TrackBack

I don't have kids, but from what all of my friends have said and from what I've observed. The younger you do it the better. You have more energy, you're less uptight. And I would echo the back strengthening, kids in my family run about 26 lbs by 6 months and it can really wear out your back.

You're going to be fantastic parents.

Oh and don't let them eat rocks. :)

Posted by: Mare at January 16, 2007 11:33 AM

Start right now making sure you're getting enough folate. Think about starting a prenatal vitamin rather than just a regular one a day. Pre-conception and the early days of your pregnancy, i.e. before you know you're pregnant, are when it's most developmentally important to the baby to have the right nutrients.

Other than that, just make sure you're eating healthy and not going overboard on alcohol/cigarettes/drugs, etc. (not that you do, just general healthy living guidelines.)

Good luck to you. We might be starting our own parenting journey here (I'm waiting for a Dr. to confirm it before I let myself talk about it in more definite terms), and while I'm excited, I am absolutely panicking about how much of a change this is going to be. So I'm hoping to learn from any advice you might get too.

Posted by: karishma at January 16, 2007 12:07 PM

You'll be a great mother! What matters is that you know that this is the toughest, roughest, most rewarding job/experience you'll ever have.

Above all always remember, you can only plan for the estimated arrival, after that it's up to the child and parents just go along for the ride. :)

Posted by: Vonn at January 16, 2007 02:06 PM

Sarah - I don't know you, but enjoy reading your blog. So I will put in my advice... Take prenatal vitamins - if not prenatals, then make sure you take a daily vitamin. And don't stress too much about it. It will happen. There is ALOT you can read online. Assuming you dont smoke, drink only moderately, eat relatively well, then you should be fine, but never hurts to get an appt w/your OB too.

I actually was 11w 0d pregnant w/my 2nd & didnt even know it - odd you ask since I'd been pregnant before, how did I not know? Long story (which I'd be happy to share via email b/c I am sure all your readers frankly don't care).

Posted by: Keri at January 16, 2007 04:15 PM

Kegels, kegels, kegels. (& I second the folic acid)

Posted by: Infantry Wife at January 16, 2007 06:13 PM

I could write a full page comment on this, but think I will just write a post on this...or not.

I am one of those least likey Mothers.

We were married 10 years, before starting the babu game. I was 32 when giving birth for the first time.

I NEVER baby sat, changes maybe 5 diapers, thought most children were brats.

However, am LOVING it, and it is the HARDEST job I have had. Not one to be taken lightly.

When someone is not scared, or frightened, or gives it no thought...I worry.

I am the middle daughter of a Mother who was not the most "nurturing" of Mothers.

My Mother was the oldest daughter out of 12 on a ranch/farm, of German immigrants. She was tired of raising children by the time she had us. Honestly. So my parenting example, was an excellent lesson. She was a great Mom, but not very nurturing.

I find my biggest problem, is a terrible over protective and nurturing streak.

So welcome to the journey of Motherhood.

So far I have learned more than I ever did in college, and any job....

You will love it.

Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at January 16, 2007 07:23 PM

oh, and you never SLEEP again, it seems that one ear, and one eyeball are always on. So there is that.

Motherhood is not for the faint hearted, or wussies...

Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at January 16, 2007 07:25 PM

Second armywifetoddlermom! Also, get comfortable with nudity - labor is a relatively short experience in the grand scheme of things, but there's enough exposure going on to cause horror cringes for years afterwords.

Plus, your kids will take their own clothes off whenever you aren't looking and there's someone around you're trying to impress.

Get rid of all light colored furniture, rugs, and invest in the Magic Eraser company. And whatever color scheme you choose, the child will puke the opposite color.

Posted by: airforcewife at January 16, 2007 08:02 PM

I should also probably add that even if my description sounds horrific, I still went through it four times.

It definately has it's up side.

Posted by: airforcewife at January 16, 2007 08:04 PM

Oh yeah! Prepare to seal all containers of buttons. The military should study 3 yr. olds, there is no being on earth more silent, sneaky or dangerous. (or as cute!)

Posted by: Vonn at January 16, 2007 11:53 PM

First of all - keep 'practicing' until you get it right. Secondly, the reason your friend made a 360 is once you feel that baby inside you, then hold that baby - your life changes and suddenly has meaning.

Posted by: Kathleen A at January 17, 2007 06:58 AM

The DH and I are both 35 and this is our first kid. We've been married for 8 years and the best advice I can give is that the longer you wait for the perfect time the more you notice there isn't one.

I'm due in August the DH finishes school Mid June and we have no idea where he will be going. Unfortunately he is trying his hardest not to miss the birth but the surge and early rotations into the sandbox may make it impossible.

If you have the desire for a family and you have the chance then yes try for a child when you know he will be there for the birth, for the first few months of being a new daddy for the fun of midnight feedings and puke on ACUs.

Most of all HAVE FUN!

Posted by: Household6 at January 17, 2007 02:26 PM

Damn I wrote an entire comment and the spam thing ate it!!! Let me try again...

I am the last person who should ever have been a mother. I was in no way (let me repeat that NO WAY) ready to be a mother. My husband and I were both way too young. But there it was - baby on the way. We should all have ended up as statistics. Early divorce... kids on drugs... everything messed up. 28 years later we're still married, the kids are grown and on their own. My daughter is in Chicago and holds a good job, she just bought a condo. My son is a Sgt and CE on a Chinook... they've done very well.

So, although parenting is never ever done (ask your mom *grin*) here are a few things I picked up along the way...

- learn the "cat stretch" now, before you need it. It will save your back! I know this for a fact - it works very very well. Incorporate the kegals with the cat stretch - do one each time you arch your back up... 2 exercises for the price of one.

- on the vitamin thing - regular daily vitamins are fine for right now. Unless your diet is really very bad don't stress over it. Most women with folic acid deficiency have very bad diets among other bad practices. Remember that the news people always need a "cause of the moment" to keep you scared.

- the end of pregnancy prepares you for the beginning of having an infant at home. You won't sleep much at all in the last couple of months. You'll either be in the bathroom every 2 hours, or your have baby feet and elbows jamming you in the side or under the ribs - LOL.

- No matter how deeply you sleep now - you will never be able to sleep through your baby crying. Even if the baby is in an other room and you have several doors closed between you. This I know for a fact as I used to sleep through anything and everything before kids.

- You and your baby will "grow up" together. They don't spring out as instant toddlers. They gradually increase their activity and you will be able to adjust. You may not always be as quick as you should - but you won't have to instantly scrutinize everything for being childproof - you'll have months as the baby gets older - first crawls, then walks... gradual is good - you can anticipate most things (but they'll always fool you with the unexpected - one of the joys of parenting)

- this is your baby. You won't believe me, but it's hugely different than anyone else's baby. You don't have to worry if you'll offend the mom if you discipline, you won't have to worry about someone else's rules... it's amazing what a difference it makes!

- once you take on the job - it will always be there.

- take some time off when ever possible - let your husband take care of the baby while you go shopping or just get out. He won't do everything the same as you and that's okay. The flip side of this is don't forget to spend some time with your husband... always remember you two are the foundation. Keep that strong and you will have a wonderful family.

I think you will be a terrific mother. Just take a deep breath and relax. Many things are easier if you don't over think them. There is never a "right" time to have a baby - just "the" time to have one.

You'll be fine. *grin*

Posted by: Teresa at January 17, 2007 07:40 PM

Well, here's my two cents worth (and my "baby" just got married and left me with an empty nest).

1. Don't worry about it. Whether you take vitamins or not, if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen.

2. God makes babies so darn cute while they are young and innocent so that you fall in love with them and are less likely to kill them when they get TTR-Temporary Teenage Retardation.

3. My first ob-gyn doctor was old and about to retire (he had delivered me and my nine siblings). When I voiced my concern about the baby being healthy he said "ahhhh, don't worry about it. You can't stomp 'em out"

4. If you do get pregnant, stay as far away from the Internet and baby books as you can. Your best source of information will come from the people who successfully raised you to adulthood.

5. Relax

Posted by: stoicmom at January 17, 2007 10:26 PM

Remember when Chsrlie was fine for hours in
the crate on your drive and then suddenly
freaked out for no reason whatsoever and
you had to hold him for the rest of the trip?

Yeah. It's like that. Calm and then chaos for 18

Posted by: MaryIndiana at January 17, 2007 10:46 PM

Based on your blog, I would say you have (1)a strong sense of responsibility, (2)a sense of humor, and (3)a sense of perspective. With all that, you should do great!

Posted by: david foster at January 17, 2007 10:47 PM

Don't listen to your mother about when you have to be a mother. That's my advice. Get pregnant when you want to, and make sure you're done living your own, INDIVIDUAL life before that.

Posted by: Will at January 17, 2007 11:39 PM

I came here by way of AWTM. You don't know me, but I'm so good at giving unsolicited advice I figured I would come over here since you were actually asking for some!

I'm a mother of a 4 year old and a 2 month old. The one thing that I know for sure, is that no one is ever truly ready to have a child. You give up more than you imagine, and you gain more than you could desire.

Here's a few thoughts:

Having children makes you incredibly vulnerable. Your heart, your soul, is divided and part of it is literally walking around in another person. Your entire life becomes about protecting and nurturing that person, and many times there are things that are out of your control. This can be extremely maddening.

Motherhood introduces you to a level of worry that you didn't know existed. Everything becomes a hazard, from a bedsheet to a string to a nice slice of Brie (during pregnancy). You go from worrying about all the things that can go wrong with pregnancy (and there are a lot), to all the things that can go wrong with a newborn... and with each stage of growth a new layer of worry is added to the last.

Enjoy your sleep right now. Even at the point your kids sleep through the night, you still don't sleep fully and deeply. Your mind is bent on them and their safety. Sounds wake you up. Sometimes no sounds wake you up. Sleep is a thing of the past.

Pregnancy isn't so much fun. There are parts that are ok, but for the most part, it hurts, you're fat, and it feels like you've been invaded by an alien.

Birth hurts. Especially if you go natural.

If you breastfeed, you have a leech that is seriously sucking you dry.

But you know what? All of that is so totally worth it. I look at my childless friends and I wonder how they do it... how they get up in the morning, why do they do what they do? One smile from your child can melt away a day's worth of frustration. Seeing them learn and grow and become little people... it's absolutely freaking amazing. And the moment when you first hold them, and they're wrinkly and slimy and so alien... and you're completely terrified... that's when you start to understand. Over the next week or two the love affair grows and you start to realize that you know nothing and yet you know everything you need to know at that time.

The reason for the vulnerability, for the worry, for the sleeplessness, is this incredible, overwhelming, protective, beautiful, indescribable love that consumes you for this new life. You only thought you knew what love was before you had kids.

Motherhood teaches you more about yourself than you ever knew... it spotlights your weaknesses, but brings out reserves of strength to overcome them. You won't be ready for motherhood until you're there. Then you'll have the tools that you need.

The best advice I have is to stop and enjoy every single moment. Enjoy the moments you have now, that you won't have again. Enjoy snuggling in with your husband and sleeping late on a Saturday. Go on dates. Court one another, and if you decide to make a baby, make it an exciting, loving time. When you're pregnant, stop and enjoy it, even if it sucks a lot of the time. Enjoy those first flutters and wondering whether its the baby or if it's gas bubbles. As weird as it sounds, enjoy birth. Don't waste this moment worrying about the next.

You'll be fine. :)

Btw, if you do get pregnant, I suggest only two books. Burn "What to expect" right now. "Birthing from Within", and "The Baby Book" will tell you everything you need to know. The big part is, relax and enjoy it.

Posted by: Sis B at January 18, 2007 12:26 AM

Oops! I think my comment was longer than your post. Sorry! :D

Posted by: Sis B at January 18, 2007 12:27 AM

go for it!!!
I was married six months when we found out. We were doing all the things to NOT get pregnant. It was a GOD thing. needless to say, I did not enjoy being pregnant. Mommiehood is great, even with all the good and bad things- like projectile vomiting (in the car no less), asthma attacks,etc.
I would say to get a physical done before hand and if there is any bad family history stuff- diabetes, heart, get it checked preferably before so if there are problems you can be aware. we found out when my child was 18months old, I had a pretty serious heart condition and probably shouldn't have ever gotten pregnant. (hence the bad pregnancy.) so my little one is a giant miracle!
And its fun to see her grow up and do so many of the things i did as a child. Like when she crawls in my bed at 0400 and puts her cold feet between my legs to get them warm, use the vacuum as a microphone.(i did the feet thing to my mom too! I think i was re-incarnated!)

happy babies!

Posted by: catwin at January 18, 2007 01:07 AM

I read you at SB and came over from AWTM's link. I too wanted to wait. My big plan was to get married at 23 and have a baby at 25. Well I got married at 18 and divorced at 24...luckily no children involved. After about 8 years and being in another relationship I had my first at 32 and the 2nd at 34. I still ended up being a single mom, but everything has worked out fine. My girls are now 9 and 11 and they just know when I need a hug without asking why. Sometimes they just want to cuddle and its usually on a day that isnt going so well. I say go for it. I wish things had worked out and I had kids when I was younger because there are alot of days that they want to go to the park, beach, etc and I just want to laze around the house. We usually compromise by going to a park nearby instead of the one 10 miles away.
Just relax and it will happen!

Posted by: Cindy at January 18, 2007 07:17 AM

My comment is less advice, more observation. I never wanted kids. Then, I had my son. All that I've worked for, all that I have, all that I see in my future, has a bright and shining blonde boy in it. I can't recall a time when he wasn't with me (he is only 3) because those days were meaningless until he blessed me with his presence.

Posted by: oddybobo at January 18, 2007 09:15 AM

Motherhood is the very best thing that I've ever done in my life. I love it! It's a hard, tiring, stressful, dirty, thankless job being a mommy. But it's also one of the most rewarding. The first time your baby looks at you, I mean REALLY looks at you, and smiles...there's nothing like it. And having your toddler light up when she sees you and running towards you as fast as her little legs can carry her with arms outstretched... all the pain, stress, sleepless nights seem to just disappear.
My relationship with DH only got better with having children. Seeing him with them made me love him even more and I never even thought that was possible. It's like we bonded on a whole new level after our girls were born.
Life is different after children and there are things that you will have to give up. Sometimes it seems like you have to pack a suitcase just to go to the grocery and it takes you forever to even get out the door. You can't just decide to go to the movies or out to dinner alone with your DH at the spur of the moment. You have to find a sitter and I, for one, have a hard time trusting other people with my kids. But those are just minor inconveniences compared to the joy you have in your children. I had a life before my kids, but I swear I can't remember what it was. It's like my life really BEGAN when I became a mommy.
Go for it! You won't regret it. If you wait until you are "ready" to have children then you won't have any. Good luck!

Posted by: theabbottfamilyhome at January 18, 2007 09:21 AM

I loved being pregnant. The only discomfort I had was having to pee every five minutes! It does prepare you for getting up at night. I am a chunky girl, so maybe I had more room for my son, and that's why I wasn't uncomfortable, I don't know. I would say that all the stuff I read on breastfeeding was good, but it didn't prepare me for the little guy who didn't ever want to stop!!!!!!!! He was on the boob all night, and frankly it drove me nuts. I think it was being a first time mom, not knowing if he'd ever settle down, that kind of thing. I ended up stopping after three weeks because I had to get on antibiotics. I pumped a couple of days but when I got a little bit more of sleep and felt like a different person, I decided to go to the bottle. However if I had the chance to do it again I would and I wish a lot of times that I had felt strong enough to breast feed longer (although I REFUSE TO FEEL GUILTY). I hear if you go that route that an electric pump is the way to go. If you go the bottle route, get advice on how to prepare a bunch in advance. I was lost and definitely could have done that part better. You'll find your way, and that everyone is different. The advice from some people was golden and others just irritating! Lot's of good stuff you're getting here though.

I was terrified that I would screw everything up, because I had not been around babies much at all and felt silly holding them. It just felt right when I held my son. There's nothing like that little baby squirming in your arms making those awesome little baby sounds. Mine is two now and I'm so glad that I have him. The best surprise ever, and just when I had resolved myself to being childless. At 37, I can definitely say start younger if you are able. Good luck!

Posted by: Jackie at January 18, 2007 10:00 AM

As someone pointed out above, there's no right time to have a baby. Period. My first child was an "oops". I can tell you it was the best "oops" of my life. If I had to consciously decide I would have waited forever...until I was on my last egg, with an Advanced-maternal-age file. Now, I have two and am thinking of having another. My oldest is eight and youngest just turned five, and it just gets better and better.

Once you're a mother, you won't believe how shallow and empty your life was before motherhood. Seriously. It's the hardest, most rewarding thing available to us on this earth. But it isn't something that you can weigh analytically pros/cons, because there is no way to place any measure on the benefits. It's like choosing to fall in love.

Posted by: Liz at January 18, 2007 02:33 PM

I am another who was directed by AWTM to give our 2 cents worth of advice.

Having children is like riding a bicycle; the more you think about it the more difficult it is. If you can open the topic for debate you have already made the decision. Go for it and you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.


Posted by: vet66 at January 18, 2007 02:51 PM

I hope you get a good laugh and a huge grin from all of the posts. Everyone has great advice and suggestions.

Remember to have fun! (If it comes down to charting and measuring your spit, you know who to contact.)

Posted by: Jenniffer at January 18, 2007 05:08 PM

My original post wouldn't because of spam. It was long. Now seeing how much reading you've had to endure with this, I'll try and keep it short!

Most everyone's post are all flowers and sunshine, but I will rain on the parade and give you my honest opinion....

Pregnancy sucks. Of course it's exciting, HOWEVER, it's scary.
You freak out over all sorts of things -- and you could be the poster child for calm and collected, and one day, you'll be sitting there, crying because you have to plug in the iron. Why "plug in the iron?" Because that's how little it takes to cry like your dog was runover in front of you.
You get fat. If you are like me and every other woman on earth, your weight matters. Your rational mind tells you that you're pregnant and you're going to gain weight. Your pregnant mind tells you that you're fat. And then you get on the scale, an bwwwwaaaaammmm. Holy shit. It's awful and scary and sad and DIFFICULT.

I could go on and on. But I won't. Just remember that pregnancy is no joke and not a walk in the park. I completely disagree with the previous poster who said not to read books. The What to Expect series is a MUST. And a female OB/GYN. Sorry, boys, you don't have tickets to this play.

As far as motherhood? Don't stress it until the baby's born! You'll have plenty of time to ponder that!!

Posted by: allicadem at January 20, 2007 11:34 AM

As a man, I'll put in my perspective. Motherhood/parenthood and children are the natural progression of a married relationship. I know I'll be slammed by some, but married/no children is just a one dimensional parody of what a real marriage is. Children are your demonstable commentment to each other and the product of that love.
Having said that - having children is a life experience of contradictions. It is at once the hardest, easiest, most wonderful, frustrating, endearing, enraging mode of life that two people can take on. It is an overwhelming responsibility in a modern society that puts little value childbearing.
My last has graduated college and will be marrying in a few months. I'm terribly proud and happy for her. Yet, I'm saddened that (at least until grand children arrive) a major phase of our lives has passed. Scrapped knees and puppies, and wonderment at Easter eggs are long ago, yet I feel them like yesterday.

Life is a Journey, and parenthood is one of the most important parts of making the trip worth while. I really don't have the words to explain, but I can tell you that when you look into your own infant's eyes for the first time and that smile glows across their face at you - you'll understand.

Posted by: Clayton at January 25, 2007 10:40 AM