When I found out I was expecting my first child, my friend Leslie was about to give birth. "Are you ready?" I asked her. "Yes and no," she said. "I have 21 onesies and footie things, so yes. But I have no idea how to raise a child, so no."
It was the most honest answer I'd ever heard. None of us ever feels truly ready to become a mother, no matter how full the changing-table drawers, how tall the tower of reading material on our bedside table. So we turn to each other. It was Leslie who told me which nursing pads to buy, and Kadi who reassured me it was OK for my son to fall asleep at the breast, and another woman—whose name I don't even remember—who explained in graphic detail what it feels like when your water breaks. I met her at a party about a week before my water broke—10 weeks early.
She probably saved my son's life.
It's the moms, the women on the frontline of pregnancy, who are the real experts. After her son was born, Leslie circulated a memo titled "What I Know Now" via e-mail.
Think of this piece as "What Lots of Smart Moms (Including Me and Assorted Experts Who Are Also Moms) Know Now." In a few months, you'll be able to add some tips of your own and pass it on.
Splurge on one great pair of maternity jeans. They'll do wonders for your wardrobe and your self-esteem.
— Kate Neale Cooper
"I had a lot of expectations about the first time I'd see
my baby on the sonogram, and I felt really guilty that I didn't feel more connected to this fuzzy image. But I am fantastically bonded with my baby now that she's here. You have to realize that there is no one way you're supposed to feel about this whole darn thing."
— Heather Hach, Los Angeles, mother of one
"If you're a first-time mother, add 10 days to your estimated due date to get a more correct date."
— Gail J. Dahl, author of Pregnancy & Childbirth Secrets (Innovative Publishing, 2007) and mother of one
"At my first ultrasound, I was told I was having a girl. Being a planner, I loaded my registry with pink gingham and monogrammed pillows for 'Hannah.' Imagine my surprise when Hannah was born with a banana! Remember to keep your expectations in check, save your receipts and don't wash all the clothes before the baby is born."
— Marcy Pryor, Kinnelon, N.J., mother of two
"Ginger-flavored Altoids made my morning sickness disappear for hours. Ginger tea, ginger ale, fresh ginger—didn't help at all. The Altoids are hard to find but well worth the hunt." (Editor's note: Find them at amazon.com and altoids.com.)
— Swati Virmani, Philadelphia, mother of one
"If you end up on bed rest, arrange a visit from a physical therapist who can teach you safe exercises to do in bed so your muscles and bones don't get weak. This will help you emotionally as well as physically."
"After I had my second miscarriage, I made a choice. I would not feel jealous or angry; I would not feel self-pity when I saw pregnant women, or new babies in strollers. I would instead pretend to be happy for them; I predicted that real happiness would follow. It was an experiment that did me a lot of good. It made me feel proactive—I learned not to wait for the third miscarriage before seeking help, like many doctors and health plans advise you to. And after many doctors and tests, lots of blood drawn, and seeing many friends have their babies, I finally had mine."
— Violet DELuna, Los Angeles, mother of one