My mother’s first pregnancy didn’t quite go as planned (but do they ever?). When she was seven months pregnant, she came down with a severe case of chicken pox, so extreme that the residents at the military hospital where she was due to give birth took photos of her to teach the fellow residents – photos that she still prays never see the light of day. When she went into labor, her OB/GYN was out of town, and when it came time to learn how to breastfeed, her teacher was a male nurse.
For each of her pregnancies, what remained consistent were my mother’s cravings for chocolate. She ate her weight in Hershey’s Kisses with Aaron, M&M’s with Adam, and chocolate-covered almonds during her pregnancy with me and admits that that she gained 70 pounds each pregnancy. (I’m sorry, but I had to print that, Mom.) Other mothers in Beijing manage to satisfy their cravings with Cold Stone Creamery. And after giving birth, mothers want to get back in shape, but it’s hard with all the time spent taking care of the new baby (and other children). In this issue, we’ve spoken to experts on how to get your pre-baby body back in a safe and healthy way (see Body After Baby).
Giving birth is a scary experience, so if you’re expecting while in Beijing or plan to be, check out our article on the ins and outs of giving birth in the capital (Giving Birth in Beijing).
My brother’s wife is currently in her first trimester for her second baby, but she’s not as scared this time. Everyone says that with each child, it gets easier. Or as my mother put it, “By the third one, I just wanted someone there to catch the baby.”
I’ve spoken with dozens of mothers who each have an unusual labor story: one mother was convinced her labor pains were merely Braxton Hicks contractions and didn’t realize it was the real thing until the last minute – which happened to coincide with last year’s snowstorm. Even though we can’t plan for the unexpected, it’s always good to be prepared (see Nine Months in Beijing) and hope for the best. And when the big day comes, there’s always the timeless consolation any woman can turn to when she is in labor pain: If my mother could do this, so can I!