Or how did I get super offended when I wasn’t given an appointment to see the doctor the very next day after I found out I was pregnant.
Ok, let’s back up a bit. Finding out I was pregnant with our first daughter was one of the happiest moments of my life. Immediately after we found out though, I was like… ‘What do I do now?’.
My friend, who may or may not be pregnant, recently asked me:
Her – So, if I’m pregnant, what do I do? Me – Well, it depends. If you’re happy, then celebrate. If not, talk it through with your partner and see what you want to do. Her – I’m going to be happy, I meant practical stuff. Me – Oh, practical stuff.
So here I am.
For practical stuff, it turns out they don’t schedule an appointment until you’re 8 weeks pregnant. WTF. Really? How are you supposed to learn about all the things you shouldn’t be drinking and eating? And most importantly, why weeks and when do you start counting?
It’s not 9 months of pregnancy, it’s 40 weeks
I’m not even kidding. This is an important one, and in my opinion, not intuitive at all. All my life I’ve heard is nine months of pregnancy. It is not, it’s 40 weeks. But 40 weeks since… when?
I am going to tell you and it’s going to blow your mind: It’s the first day of your last period. I know, you’re not even pregnant then, you have your period. But hey, it is what it is.
Scheduling your first appointment… at 8 weeks
As I was saying, I got really offended that they wouldn’t see me earlier. I was pregnant! It was my special moment. But no, apparently it wasn’t. They did schedule an appointment over the phone and congratulated me for my pregnancy. They also sent me an email with practical information about what to eat and not, and those things that I already knew because of family and friends being pregnant around me but I really wanted someone to tell me the truth about. It turns out that the truth is different in different countries (in Spain it’s ok to eat salads, in the US don’t you dare eating salads when you’re pregnant), and also different generations (for my mom’s generation: ok to drink bubbles, but not red wine; for my generation, not ok to drink bubbles or wine, darn!).
Once I got over the fact that a doctor wouldn’t see me in another four weeks or so, I started looking up things online. I found out soon enough that there are hundreds of apps that tell you which vegetable or fruit size your baby is each week. What for, that it didn’t say. My husband and I had lots of questions, specially because I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it or not, but the doctor wouldn’t see us in another whole four weeks. After literally 30 seconds of online searches – ok, maybe it was 60 seconds- we were overwhelmed. It was too much.
So we made a decision we’d never regret: we’ll face parenting problems one at a time and only when we actually have those problems. And in that precise moment, we stopped looking up online information about being pregnant or having a baby. Months later, when our baby arrived, there was this one night when she got hiccups. OMG hiccups. We gave in and googled “baby breastfeeding hiccups”. Baby could die (I’m not making it up, there were many possibilities, and this was one of them). We were so worried. We called the hospital in the middle of the night:
Me: Our baby has hiccups, what should we do? She’s only a few weeks old. Nurse: What were you doing when the baby got hiccups? Me: Feeding her. Nurse: Has she finished eating yet? Me: Yes. Nurse: Ok, then put her back to sleep. Me: Sleep? With the hiccups? But why did she get hiccups? Did I do something wrong? Nurse: It’s completely normal. Babies get hiccups all the time. They can eat and sleep when having hiccups, not a problem.
Really? That was it? We put her back in her crib and, wait for it, she did fall asleep.
Pregnancies and delivered babies
When I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter I was equally pumped, but this time I already felt less special. I called the hospital even though I knew the drill. I even knew how to count in weeks and everything.
On that first call, after informing that I was pregnant, they asked me some questions:
Nurse: Is this your first baby? Me: No, my second. Nurse: How many pregnancies have you had?
And that one caught me out of guard. What did she mean how many pregnancies did I have, I had just told her it was my second child. And then it hit me. I felt so stupid.
Shit is real. Many people I know or have acquaintance with have gone through a lot to have their babies. Some happy endings some not so happy. No matter if they’re in their twenties, thirties, or forties, miscarriages and IVF treatments are very common. I personally wasn’t aware that it was so common before I started trying to get pregnant myself, but it is.
Ultrasounds and check ups
This varies depending on the country, your insurance, and a few other things. But another misconception I had before ever being pregnant was how often the doctor checks on the baby. If I remember correctly, they only scheduled a couple of ultrasounds with our first (this was with Kaiser, in San Francisco). The first one was at 8 weeks (vaginal) and the second one at 20 weeks. At the time, that felt like definitely not enough. Truth is, if everything is looking good and the baby is ok, why do you need more?
However, I ended up getting more ultrasounds. First, because we had to repeat the 20 weeks one (baby would not collaborate so we could get all the pictures needed). Secondly, because the baby was pretty big and we had to do a growth ultrasound in the third trimester. And third, because I got cholestasis of pregnancy and they ended up monitoring her every three days during the last couple of weeks before she was born.
With the second baby the perception was completely different. Meaning it felt like we did more than enough visits to the doctor. We probably did way less ultrasounds, but it didn’t feel like we were not getting enough attention like it happened with our first.
I’m probably missing things, but these are some of the most relevant realizations that I had in the days and weeks after I got pregnant. What are some of the things that you didn’t know? Feel free to share in the comments! (And if you do so, thank you for contributing to this blog post).