I've always been a type A person who likes to have everything planned out. I follow my calendar and can hardly even go to a dinner with friends without organizing it on my schedule.
Being pregnant was a huge lesson in letting go of the controlling part of my personality and realizing that I have no idea what's going to happen over the next nine months. As much as I would have liked to have a handbook to guide me through pregnancy, I knew deep down that my pregnancy experience would be much different than my friend's or neighbor's experience, especially because I was a high-risk pregnancy.
Years ago, when I dreamed about becoming a mother, I always thought I would be the kind of mom who had the stacks of baby books lined up in my living room. I imagined reading these books every night before bed while wearing the cutest maternity clothes that the industry had to offer. The reality was actually much different than this. I decided early on to not touch any baby books, even though I was brand new to pregnancy and I didn't really know what to expect.
I Decided Not To Read Any Baby Books
A good friend of mine suggested that I steer clear of baby books early on in my pregnancy. This sounded a bit crazy to me in the moment because I figured that the books would give me all kinds of information and details that I otherwise wouldn't have known. After all, I had never been pregnant before so I needed all the help I could get, right? Well, not exactly.
The more I perused through the few baby books that did land in my lap (What To Expect When You're Expecting, for one), I noticed that there was some conflicting information in all of them. Some of them told me to avoid coffee like the plague, while others said that coffee in normal amounts would be just fine. I flipped through a couple books and felt a weird spike in anxiety that I wasn't expecting.
I realized that most of these books collect their information and advice from mainstream medicine and healthcare.
Besides, I realized that most of these books collect their information and advice from mainstream medicine and healthcare (fueled by Big Pharma), which is known to treat pregnancy and birth as a medical emergency rather than the most natural thing our bodies were made to do. A lot of what I was seeing simply didn't sit right with me, and it felt like doomsday information that was meant to scare me. And as someone who was already nervous, and frankly a little freaked out by pregnancy in general, that's when I realized my friend was right – there's no point in stressing myself out with these books.
So I shoved them all aside and decided to enjoy my pregnancy, rather than constantly compare myself to the books or what I saw on social media.
I Turned to Mom Friends for Help and Advice If I Needed It
No woman is an island, so I knew that I would still need support coming from somewhere. Instead of the books, I turned to friends. I'm fortunate to know a number of devoted mothers who have given birth in various different settings, whether it was at home or in a hospital. These were the women I texted or called or had lunch with when I wanted to ask questions about pregnancy.
We talked about pregnancy symptoms and our hopes and fears, and the advice and guidance that they offered was exponentially more helpful than anything I could have gotten in a book. Besides, having a real conversation with a human being is much more comforting than the kind of one-size-fits-all advice that is handed out in books.
Instead of the books, I turned to friends.
I know plenty of women who watched documentaries like The Business of Being Born and viewed births online, but I also chose to opt out of all that as well. That was a personal choice; I knew I would feel a bit freaked out if I overwhelmed myself with videos about what birth looks like. I just wanted to focus on myself and my baby, and prepare myself mentally for whatever was to come.
The most important thing for me in preparing for birth was acknowledging that every single woman's experience is different than the next, and nobody's experience is better than another's. As long as we make the right decisions for our baby and that baby comes out healthy, that's all that really mattered. My motto was truly "let go and let God," and part of honoring that motto was pushing aside all the books and relying on friends and family to help me through the precious months of pregnancy.