So, it’s my due date. Yippee. I’ve had a lot of memorable lessons throughout this fantastic voyage. From the candid conversations with several of my girlfriends who haven’t had kids yet, it’s obvious that everyone is curious in their own way and has their own set of questions. So this if for you girls. Here’s my list of stuff. It’s stuff that nobody tells you, stuff that I couldn’t live without, stuff to avoid, secrets of pregnancy and randomness about my experience with pregnancy. I should be working, but I feel compelled to share this ongoing list that I’ve been working on. And so to commemorate these 40 weeks, here’s my list of lessons learned in no particular order.

40. Everyone is an expert. If I’ve learned anything during my glorious pregnancy, it’s that everyone seems to be an expert about my pregnancy. I’m not talking about the real experts like my mom, dr. or nurses, I’m talking about the peanut gallery. Most of the comments and advice are usually harmless, but most are pure comical and even obnoxious.

39. Weight gain is completely normal. Do not get hung up on the number. In fact, hide your scale and rely on the scale at the dr’s office. In most cases, your body will gain what it needs to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Moderation is key. If your weight gain (or loss) is an issue, your dr. will let you know.

38. CELEBRATE your curves. I haven’t been skinny since, well, probably the 90s. I had a fear that once I got pregnant, I’d become this giant blob carrying a baby. But thanks to this kid, I haven’t felt this comfortable in my own skin in a very, very long time. I love showing off my belly and whole new set of curves.

37. Ignore all the “you’re so big” comments. Um, you’re big because you’re blessed to be pregnant. Sadly, people aren’t always so articulate and appropriate when making conversation.

36. Everyone has something to say, especially the one-uppers. Whether their pregnancy was harder, easier or their kid is happier or crankier, everyone has their own take on things. Smile and carry on.

35. Swelling doesn’t happen to everyone. Do yourself a favor and walk a lot, drink a lot and put those feet up whenever you can!

34. There can never be too much of a good thing, and that includes ice cream.

33. Reading and research of your own is important. Don’t let others do all of your homework. To me, knowing for myself is so important. Sure, I could find anything out on the internet, but there’s a sense of accomplishment when you learn things from your own research. If you have time to google something, you have time to read it from an actual book.

32. Not all pregnancy books are must-reads. Some are total fluff, some are way outdated and some are just completely alarmist. My handsdown favorite and most read book was From the Hips. It was written in a tone that I appreciate and could absorb. Find a book that will be your go-to guide!

31. Embrace your relationship with your significant other. The equation started out with you two. With things constantly changing, it’s up to you to continue to cultivate your relationship. Above all the tension, mood swings and difficult transitions, at the end of the day, it’ll be you two against the world, and hopefully not each other.

30. Take naps. Everyone will tell you to sleep while you can. Heed that advice.

29. Stretch marks are genetic. And also, if you got them in puberty, you’re more likely to get them during pregnancy. Good genes are really the only way to avoid them. But by all means, if using a lot product makes you feel better, then go for it. Lotion and oils are proven to increase elasticity, so go for it. Mama mio belly oil and Mama’s bliss have been my favorites.

28. If you’re pregnant in the summertime, enjoy it! Wear tank tops, capris, shorts, gauchos– whatever makes YOU comfortable. But hands down, my most favorite summertime element were my JCrew flip flops. I love my Reefs and always will, but the JCrew flip flops cradle your feet. I think I wore my flip flops every single day, whether they matched or not.

27. Seriously, hydrate yourself. Your body will thank you. Cold water is your best friend.

26. Fiber, fruit and veggies are important. I’m not saying this because the books drill it into you. I’m saying it from personal experience. If you don’t get enough fiber and good stuff, your body will most likely tell you– and in an unpleasant way.

25. Be prepared to learn things about your body that you never learned in health class! Even before pregnancy, I had to learn that “it doesn’t just happen” because you want it to. With many of us being career minded and getting pregnant later in life, often times our fertility wanes. It’s up to you to know these things. You’ll thank yourself later.

24. Speaking of your body, if there’s an ailment you’ve never had before pregnancy, don’t be surprised if you get it within those 9 months. It’s embarrassing but it happens to many of us. TMI, but I’ve had many conversations with my mom and experienced friends over the past few weeks about the dreaded H word. Ice packs and Target’s medicated wipes have been my friend!

23. If you have questions, ask your doctor, nurse or midwife. There have been many times when I didn’t want to be that annoying inquisitive pregnant girl constantly calling the dr’s office. And because I didn’t call, I punished myself (and my husband) for worrying if this or that was normal. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

22. There’s going to be a lot of paperwork and red tape. Even if your significant other handles issues like insurance and benefits, you should educate yourself on your plan. Learn the terms of your insurance coverage. Find out what is covered and what isn’t covered. Are all ultrasounds covered? What maternity benefits are covered? And here’s a biggie– IS YOUR HOSPITAL COVERED? Not too long ago, I learned the hard way that our chosen hospital is not covered in network by our insurance. I assumed it was because our dr. is affiliated with the hospital. We lucked out because we have out of network coverage. A lot of tears could’ve been avoided, had we looked further into our hospital/insurance coverage.

21. Maternity leave, FMLA, short term disability etc. are important facets when it comes to determining your leave. It’s a well known fact that the U.S. is only one of five countries that is not mandated to offer paid maternity leave. It would behoove you to know your rights and your employer’s policies even before getting pregnant.

20. Beginning with the pregnancy test (or maybe even before this) there’s going to be lots of routine tests. Get used to peeing in cups, giving blood and having exams. It’s different with every dr. and midwife, but more than likely, you’ll be getting tested a lot.

19. Getting pregnant and having morning sickness was the easiest way to quit smoking and drinking. This 9-month detox has been a wonderful thing 😉 This is more of a personal lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. Since Jeff and I worked in restaurants when we were younger and have since been social creatures, the drinking and smoking aspect sort of went hand in hand with our lifestyle. I never thought I’d be able to quit smoking, but morning sickness and thoughts of a healthy baby and lifestyle made it an easy transition. The hardest transition has been the toll on our social lives, but it’s a change worth making!

18. The world doesn’t end because you’re pregnant. To touch base on the above, I had this irrational fear that my non-parent friends would stop calling us or coming around because we’d be deemed boring breeders. This was so not the case! If anything, our wonderful friends have embraced these changes and can’t wait for dude themselves. Sure we can’t do What the Buck every Friday anymore, but that doesn’t mean we won’t ever again.

17. What works for one family, may not work for another. This is just one example, but I wrote about this earlier on in the pregnancy and it may have been misinterpreted: just because everyone has a big house to start their family doesn’t mean we need one too. We’ve completely embraced being an urban family for now. We’re surrounded by lots of young families, tons of parks, incredible museums, awesome shopping… stuff that works for us!

16. Don’t get caught up in the competitions and the Joneses. Oh, how I hate those Joneses. Sometimes it’s hard to not compare yourself and your life to others, but when it becomes a part of how you act and think, to me, it’s a problem. Do yourself a favor and celebrate your nuances and appreciate your differences from others. Who wants a cookie cutter life anyway?

15. Just because they make it, doesn’t mean you need it! Our culture seems to thrive on overconsumption these days. With Jeff’s job, I see this firsthand even moreso. There’s just so much STUFF out there on the baby/kid/pregnancy market. With our urban lifestyle, we were forced to be more minimalistic in terms of acquiring baby essentials. We don’t even have our kid yet, but I know for a fact that we don’t need that much stuff to get started.

14. Find time for yourself. By default, I got a lot of ‘me’ time because of my commute. But besides from that, I enjoyed regularly getting manicures and pedicures (and going shopping) to relax and get away. I know my ‘me’ time will be scarce once the baby arrives, so I truly enjoyed getting pampered and having the time to myself.

13. Don’t do too much. I’m one of those people who prefers taking care of people, rather than being taken care of. However, towards the end, I had to learn to relax and let Jeff help me. I still have a problem with it and try to stand on step stools when he’s not looking. But for my body and the baby’s sake, I know I should stop being so stubborn and accept the help. Yeah, I’m not broken, but at this point, my body and balance are very limited.

12. Document everything as much as possible. Whether you do it with pictures, videos or words, documenting your pregnancy is as fulfilling as it is functional.

11. There will always be a new report, article or recall. It’s your call on what to do with the excess of information. Our moms didn’t have half the reports or warnings when they were pregnant with us. And for the most part, we all came out ok. Surely, once the baby actually arrives, you’ll have a million more things to worry about.

10. Trust your dr./nurses/midwife. Before I got pregnant, I went to this swanky all-female practice in the city. It was great, but it was so sterile and I was definitely a number at that place. I’d heard my dr. was a local legend, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m so glad I did. I think I can speak on mine and Jeff’s behalf by saying that we love our dr. and couldn’t imagine enduring this pregnancy without his expertise. It’s made such a big difference!

9. Be organized. I’m not the most organized person in the world, but when it comes to planning events, I try to be meticulous about everything. For the duration of my pregnancy, I kept a physical calendar in this wonderful organizer, as well as an online calendar that Jeff can reference whenever he needs it. Both forms have been an huge help in my quest to stay on top of my appointments, work assignments, trips home, social engagements, etc. I highly recommend always having a back up!

8. Be able to say you’re wrong or that you’re sorry. I can be as irrational as they come, but one thing I’ve learned is that the hormones often do the talking. And more times than not, I’m wrong and totally off my rocker. It’s been humbling to be able to admit that I’m wrong and to actually verbalize an apology.

7. Have patience. It’s a virtue for a reason.

6. Grin and bear it. At times, you might feel like the most unglamorous and bloated person on the face of the earth. But really, you’re not. Try walking down the street with your giant belly and a sincere smile and see how many strangers smile back. Even at my most miserable state, in the middle of summer, I tried to squeeze out a smile or two. I got a few of those sweet “you’re glowing” comments which made me smile even more. While they could’ve been saying it to be polite, their sentiments made me feel great.

5. Slow down. 9 months can be a very long time, but don’t let it completely whiz by!

4. Trust your instincts. If you love a name, go with it. If you like a certain product, buy it. If you don’t feel up for something, skip it. YOU know what’s best for you.

3. Find what makes you happy. I love reading, writing and being creative. Finding time to do all of the above has kept me sane and content throughout these 9 months. But most especially being able to reach out to all of my friends and family via this blog has meant so much more!

2. Tap your lifelines. So, maybe not everyone can be obsessed about email and myspace like me. But that’s not to say, you can’t keep in touch in other ways. I guess it’s different strokes for different folks, but me personally, I love being able to rely on my childhood friends for laughs and support. I love that I can text my brother at 3am when I have total insomnia. Having all these lifelines in the form of good friends and family has made this pregnancy so much more special.

1. Enjoy every minute of it! I left the most obvious for last because I think it’s probably the most important. Sure, the morning sickness and constant bouts of nausea sucked. Sure, standing on the train when I’d rather be sitting on the couch was pretty painful. Sure, being so far from family during this special time has been hard. But, being able to bond even more with my husband with the laughs and memories over the past 9 months has been a journey I won’t forget! Being able to stare at my big ol’ belly in the mirror, enjoy his kicks and martial arts moves at night have been truly surreal.

But being able to say honestly that I’ve loved being pregnant and have enjoyed the experience of carrying this child has been the real blessing.

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