1. Getting pregnant (or trying to conceive [ttc]), will probably take more time, emotional energy and planning than you expect. If it happens quickly and easily, you're lucky. But if it doesn't, that's very normal. You are normal! And you have to let yourself feel the emotions (disappointment, sadness when it arrives, frustration), but don’t wallow in them
    2. Spending time around young babies when trying to get pregnant can be, strangely enough, quite healing if you are feeling down
    3. Once you do fall pg, expect to feel anxious for at least the first trimester. Everyone does, no exceptions. It's hormonal (and related to how dearly you care about your growing fetus)
    4. If you have some dark-brown bleeding or spotting between 5 and 7 weeks, don’t panic! Certainly get it checked out but this bleeding is most likely implantation spotting, which happens when the egg is embedding firmly into the wall of your uterus. Both my friends and myself experienced this type of bleeding and in none of these cases did the bleeding turn out to be a miscarriage
    5. There are a bunch of "cures" for morning sickness and tiredness in the first trimester, but the best one by far is rest, rest, rest. I also found ginger in any form to be useful, but it doesn't help everyone
    6. In the second trimester, it's normal to get af-like cramps as your abdomen starts to expand and the ligaments under the uterus stretch out. If the pain isn't severe, isn't accompanied by bleeding or fever and abates when you lie down, it's normal and no cause for concern. (If I had known this, I would have saved myself a 3am dash to the emergency room at 18 weeks)
    7. This is my most serious one. Some pg-related complaints can come on very suddenly and are very serious, such as preeclampsia. This condition, which usually starts between 34 and 37 weeks, is characterized by high bp, kidney dysfunction and chronic swelling (edema). Be careful, because you may not know you have it- the swelling may be your only "visible" symptom. That is why it is vital to keep regular appointments with your care provider and make sure you are seen at least weekly from 35 weeks on. Preeclampsia is life-threatening to both mother and baby if undetected, but can be addressed successfully if detected early on
    8. Throughout pg, you will have occasions where your baby is monitored via a heartrate trace (CTG). These machines are not very sensitive and do not always detect every beat, so they compensate by averaging the beats they do detect across the time monitored. This can cause panic because it can seem to you as if your baby's heartrate has suddenly plummeted from 130 to 110. However, it is much more likely that your baby has simply moved away from the tracer and is not any distress. The best thing (if you can stand it!) is not to look at the monitor at all and wait for your care provider to look at the print-out, which shows an overall pattern, which is much more indicative of what’s going on
    9. When it comes to birth, expect the unexpected. You will have a picture in your mind of what your birth is going to be like, and maybe it will work out that way. But for so many of us, we didn't get the birth we planned - we've had inductions, forceps, ventouse deliveries, emergency c-sections, every variation on "natural" vaginal birth imaginable. The common denominator, though, is that we all fell instantly in love with our beautiful babies when they arrived - whether expelled by muscles or instruments, whether born vaginally or abdominally. HOW you give birth doesn't ultimately matter - the result is what counts. So it's good to start emotionally preparing yourself to accept whatever comes, especially as the third trimester wears on
    10. And finally - I would say the biggest thing I wish I'd known about ttc, pregnancy, and motherhood, the thing I am only fully realizing now, is what a perilous, marvelous undertaking it is. It involves you and your partner, body, mind and spirit, and will absolutely become the most important focus of your life. It is vital to have support from people who understand and will help out when needed - and it is vital to have a community of interest with which to share your thoughts, feelings and concerns.

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