I read all of the typical pregnancy books for our first pregnancy and yet some how when it came down to the real life experience there was a lot left unmentioned. I know A LOT of people who are currently expecting their first and I know that every pregnancy, labor, and delivery are vastly different, but if you are interested on some of the things the books leave out here is my take.
Big and beautiful: You're 9 months, your belly is round and full of baby. You are ready to meet this baby wonder and thinking about how you'll get your pre-pregnancy shape back. You won't get it back. I'm sorry, but your hips will widen with each baby and in some cases your feet too. And as far as your mid section if you were able to avoid stretch marks consider yourself blessed. If you are like the women in my family your belly grows only forward and looks like you're smuggling a beach ball, it will not matter how many crunches I do or how many sessions of Zumba classes, I will for the rest of my life have extra skin, not fat, actual skin. This is NOT the case for everyone but for some women it's just a fact of carrying babies. So don't drive your self mad after the baby comes trying to bounce back like a celebrity, enjoy your baby and your squishy tummy for a while... you earned it!
The Milk Factory: I knew I wanted to breastfeed, it is what's best after all. But not a single soul told me that the night I came home from the hospital I should have slept on a mound of towels because my milk would come in and completely soak through the mattress. No one bothered to mention lanolin either. If you're going to breastfeed do yourself a favor and buy a case of it, your nipples will thank you. Also, if your baby cries your milk will let down, you'll unhook your nursing bra and before baby can make contact you will shoot milk across the room or in your baby's eye etc. The longer you breastfeed the less likely it is that your let down will be so strong but at least I gave you a heads up. (Side note: After the baby is born, the hospital will send many different lactation consultants. I found that the advice I received completely varied from consultant to consultant. A vast age difference made for the passing along of old wives tales about how to breastfeed. I attribute my nursing success to Mother's Milk tea, pumping which ever side the baby didn't nurse from in the beginning, and 2 visits to the local La Leche League.)
Third Trimester Dreams: I woke up in the middle of the night crying and wondering what in the world was wrong with me during my third trimester. I called Mom and told her about my nightmare and she told me it was normal. A little warning would have been nice. Third trimester dreams can be horrifically vivid and gory. Some of the most disturbing images you never thought you could dare imagine come to life in super hormone charged slumber. You're not crazy but your hormones are.
After All The Pushing: You'll be sore but you won't care because you'll be struck with awe at this little human you just ushered into the world. Unfortunately, you'll most likely be shifted to the hospital post delivery wing and be inundated with interns and nurses checking on you and the baby. My advice: either check out early or hang a sign on the door asking staff to not disturb unless necessary. We hung the sign on the door. (It probably saved a few nurses from some serious over protective new Momma wrath).
Recovery: This little person has stolen your heart and you're completely smitten. As you should be, there is no love greater than Momma-Baby love. You're devoted to this new life but you also have to remember to take care of yourself after delivery. For routine vaginal births it is common to bleed to a certain degree for about 6 weeks. Note: Passing blood versus passing clots is very different, if you are passing clots call your care provider. This is the first time I will have ever admitted this but if it helps someone then it's worth the embarrassment: I actually wore super thin adult diapers. The hospital will send you home with these funky mesh undies with heavy duty pads that felt more than a diaper to me that the actual adult diaper. The super thin adult diapers gave me a more secure feeling not to mention being more comfortable. There it is, gross but true.
This isn't to scare or deter from having babies, but maybe there is a reason why all of the books leave it out. All I can say is that I'm willing to do it again and women all over the world are willing to do it time and time again. It's worth it. So incredibly worth it.