By Peg Johnston • November 30, 2007•Myths & Truths
Shortly after my post about lactation rooms at BigLaw I had a brief conversation about breastfeeding with a friend (also a lawyer) who has not yet had children. The conversation reminded me of all the things that non-mothers don't know about motherhood.
I was one of those people that carefully timed my two pregnancies to fit into my professional schedule. (I had both kids before law school but while I was working in an arguably more demanding career with greater responsibilities.) The first pregnancy was timed almost exactly and very purposefully so that I would give birth between a planned extended business trip out of state and a programmed promotion. My due date was exactly two weeks after I was supposed to return home from the trip and 10 weeks before I was set up to take a promotion with greatly increased responsibilities. I recognize that I (we) was fortunate to be able to plan the pregnancy with such precision. Very few people actually can. However, you know what they say about the best laid plans.... Our first child was born 17 days early while I was still half way across the country on business.
I was also one of those people that, as soon as I became pregnant, started reading up on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting. I must have read a dozen books about the first year of parenting and almost as many baby name books. I subscribed to a handful of magazines and got another couple free subscriptions related to pregnancy from my OB doctor.
Well, there are a number of things that I didn't learn. A few of these were real surprises to me. I have narrowed it down to 7 "myths" that I think every professional woman should hear the truth about before having a child. These are, of course, just my 7. There are many more. There are many things that I was able to learn from reading before hand and therefore don't make my list. Some of these things are very personal and may be things that you or others don't experience. However, in the interest of helping other professional women be prepared for motherhood I share my list of 7 on this site. I encourage others to chime in, offer your own advice, etc.
Here are the 7 planned topics. I'll write about one every couple of days. Stick with me because some are more surprising than others but I've tried to keep them in chronological order:
1. Pregnancy is Bliss and Shouldn't Impact Your Ability to Work
2. Lamaze Classes are Required Training
3. Post-partum Depression is Only for the Weak-minded
4. Stay At Home Dad is the Perfect Solution to My Work-life Balance Concerns
5. Breastfeeding is Easy and Natural
6. Grandparents Will Come to the Rescue
7. You'll be the Same Person But Now You'll Just Have a Kid
This first topic is very practical advice:
#1: Myth - Pregnancy is Bliss
Okay, so I realize that there may not be many readers who truly believe this myth, you know the one that says you'll never feel so healthy, so alive, as when you are pregnant. Most of us know somebody who had killer morning sickness, gained 80 pounds, spent time on bed rest or generally just went to hell during her pregnancy. However, I was in my late twenties and in excellent physical condition. I was an exercise fanatic who led a very active life before pregnancy. There was one thing in particular that caught me off guard about being pregnant -- tiredness. I was really tired. In retrospect I suspect that my tiredness was related to the sudden lack of caffeine. I went from drinking pretty much all caffeinated beverages to drinking no caffeine at all when pregnant and I went through some serious withdrawals.
My advice, be ready for this. Wean yourself off caffeine before trying to get pregnant. If you don't, you may find yourself falling asleep at work or just too tired to concentrate. Also, expect that you may not feel so great. Most of us can pull ourselves together for work requirements when necessary but I wouldn't task yourself too hard with strenuous outside activities that may suck all the energy that you may find you'll need to keep up the pace at work. If you are somebody like me who can work 70 hours during the week and still pack in travel and adventure on the weekends, consider taking it a little easy once you are preggers.