I knew exactly how I was going to look and feel when I was expecting. My pregnant profile would be buff-with-a-bump, outfitted in snug tops and hip-hugging jeans that would accentuate my belly. And while I'd had friends who gained (gasp!) 30-plus pounds during their pregnancies, I wasn't going to put on an ounce more than the advised 25.
Imagine how shocked I was to find myself in sloppy sweats, craving cheeseburgers and dry-heaving into a trash can every five minutes. Crippled by exhaustion, I saw less of my gym as the months wore on. By the end, I had packed on 48 pounds, and only eight were baby.
The day my daughter was induced (wait a minute! I wasn't going to be induced!), I had an epiphany. (I also had an epidural.) The universe had been whispering it in my ear all along: Never say never. Five years and a second birth later, it has become my mantra. Until you're in it, it's easy to say "No episiotomy," or "I'll never give my child a pacifier," or "My baby will only sleep in a crib."
But in the throes of life, things change. When you've labored for two days and your doctor says your choices are an epidural or a C-section, you may find yourself opting for something formerly unthinkable. When you've bounced, rocked, sang to and swaddled an inconsolable baby for six hours, it may occur to you that getting her to sleep—even if it means popping in a pacifier or nursing her in your bed—might be better for both of you than sticking to your guns.
I've still got volumes to learn about parenting, but here's what I know: You don't have to decide today how you're going to act for the rest of your life. It doesn't matter how anyone else does it either. Stay true to yourself and your instincts. And don't judge another mom until you've driven a mile in her minivan.