Expectations. Reality. And how to get through.

So much of parenting, from the moment of conception is most definitely NOT what you expect.  Everyone’s journey is different, and there will be bumps in the road and detours too.

As one dad of three, soon to be four, said to a group of first time moms in the shop:

“What we have learned is that you can get through anything, if you know that it will end.” 

So,you say,  great, they were on their fourth, of course they have it down, how’s a first time mama to get through?  We’ve compiled some expectations, realities and super simple how-to-get-through coping strategies.

First Trimester

You expect to glow.


You’re green. You’re so tired you can barely make it through the day. And,maybe you’ll glow, but 99 out of 100 women surveyed IRL did not feel they were glowing.

Yesterday a client described it as “I felt like a hungover sloth.”

Yep.  That.

How to get through:

This is the one-day-at-a-time, maybe one-hour-at-a-time trimester.  It’s hard to be grateful when you’re nauseous, but we’ve found that actually making a gratitude list can help distract your brain.  Not just saying “I know that I should be grateful, I’m so lucky, but really?!? I’m NOT grateful!”  We know.  That’s why using an app like DayOne App(and this is not an endorsement, just a random pick) or a meditation app, or try a 1-2 minute meditation that helps MS fatigue and works remarkably well for pregnancy.  Very brief meditations can be a useful coping tool for all parents:  a two minute break! Refocusing your brain can help get you through. Try it!!  

Second Trimester

You expect to glow.


Your clothes are getting tight and you’re starting to feel fat.By the end of this trimester you may glow.  At the beginning, you may just be grateful to be not green. 

How to get through:

Here is your mantra, are you ready? “I am not fat. I am pregnant.”

Get into properly fitting clothes that not only feel good and loose, but look good! There’s nothing like wearing your fat jeans to make you feel fat.  Find a pair of super cute maternity jeans and long enough tops, grab a couple of flattering dresses and maternity leggings and tights and practice rocking the bump.  Go on, do it, be the hot mama!

Third Trimester

You expect to be getting ready for baby’s arrival, and you might expect that you will be getting big.

The reality:

Not this big!

You’re getting tired again. Not tired like the first trimester, but tired like you are carrying a lot of extra weight with every step you take. 

The reality is that you may be SO ready to have this baby!

How to Get Through:

Go back to your app.  More practice refocusing your brain with lists-gratitude, not to-do -can help. Obviously making sure that you have everything that you think you might want for baby is also a good way to focus your time and what energy you have left.  

Now is also a good time to start practicing radical self care, whether that’s a nice bath, a massage, a dinner out with your beloved.  Treat yourself nice.  You and baby are both about to go through an amazing and huge transition; baby from the safety and comfort of the womb and you from being life support inside, to becoming a mother!

Fourth Trimester

You expect to be blissful and in love and tired.

The reality:

OMG, not this tired!! And then there’s sooo much more that you didn’t expect!

Today, in one store alone, moms have described the fourth trimester as “awful”, “hell” and “the worst sh*t show”  and yet, they were all here, smiling with their beautiful babies.  And, AND HERE’S THE IMPORTANT THING to note, they were all through the fourth trimester. 

No their bodies were not all perfect and rock solid again, no their babies were not all sleeping through the night, but they had made it through and they were happy. 

How to get through:

Think about that father of three quoted above.  Take those two minutes to yourself, you can find them, we promise. Find help so you can take care of the life support system that is you-either from a relative, a friend, a doula, a neighbor, someone! Find other people, IRL, to interact with, even if that just means getting out to a cafe. Live adult human contact helps. 

If you start to feel overwhelmed ask yourself how important something is. The dishes can wait.  You need sleep.

And, the postpartum body…yeah, give yourself time, lots of time. You can and will lose it, but now is not the time tor stress over that.  

Postpartum depression and baby blues are a real thing that really good moms may experience.  If you even think that you need help, find it. 


You expect that you and baby will bond and life will be peaceful.

The Reality:

Hey, that hurts!

Baby’s not gaining enough weight!

Is it my milk supply?

I feel like a failure.

Even if nursing comes easy to you and baby, you may find yourself attached to a baby 24/7.  Yep, they need to eat a lot!  think of how much they are growing and their brain is developing. In the first 6 weeks you really are life support, which is why making sure that you have proper support is key to sanity and to baby’s well being!

How to get through:

If nursing isn’t working, you are NOT a failure. Focus on the gratitude, not the *feeling* of failure. This article in the NYT on bottle feeding addresses beautifully how important it is to let go of expectations. What felt like defeat was not that at all, it was actually a wonderful gift to this family.  

In Summary:

The truth is that we have hopes and dreams and that is wonderful.  If things don’t go exactly as expected, then they are still going. Just like a traffic app, sometimes you just need to reroute, Panicking and fretting don’t help, they just make you miss the exit. It may take two minutes longer, but at the end of the day, you get there.  Relax and enjoy the ride. 


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