Pregnancy and new motherhood, especially if you’re experiencing them for the first time, can make you feel a lot like the explorers Lewis and Clark: You’re entering unknown and uncharted territory with only a vague idea of what to expect. Sure, you’ve heard your guide Sacagawea’s stories (after all, every mother you know can’t stop giving you advice), but hearing about something and actually experiencing it for yourself are two very different things. While you’re excited about reaching your destination, you’re frightened about the things you might encounter along the way.
Relax. Lewis and Clark didn’t plunge off a cliff, end up as supper for bears, or become hopelessly lost. And according to Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, most of the pregnancy-, birth-, and motherhood-related worries that keep you up at night won’t come to pass, either.
“It’s normal for expectant mothers to hear horror stories and fixate on them,” says Ivana, a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, and coauthor of A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year (Don’t Sweat It Media, Inc., April 2013, ISBN: 978-0-9888712-0-5, $15.95, www.princessivana.com). “But while embarrassing, frustrating, and inconvenient things can happen while you’re pregnant and getting used to motherhood, odds are good that most of them won’t be an issue for you.”
Ivana speaks from experience. While she’s a modern-day princess, she comes from modest means and met her Prince Charming while on scholarship at Pepperdine. Being a princess has given her access to information and expertise, but she’s adamant that the most important aspects of being a parent have little to do with money. Instead, they have everything to do with educating yourself, trusting your instincts, and eventually, paying attention to your child’s signals.To view Ivana’s latest vlog on expecting the worst, click here.
“If the thing you’ve been dreading does happen, you’ll often find that it wasn’t as bad as you’d feared,” Ivana assures. “Like me, you’ll find a way to troubleshoot problems and laugh at gaffes (even if it’s after the fact).”
Here, Ivana highlights five common fears—and helps you put them into perspective just in case they happen to you:
Fear #1: Let one rip, tater chip. You may have heard that during pregnancy the gas you pass (both SBD silent but deadly and LNS loud not smelly) will combine into a new variety: LAD loud and deadly. You’re terrified that you’ll erupt in a long chain of farts right in the middle of a business presentation.
“It’s possible that two weeks after your PowerPoint was replaced by a PowerFart, your boss will still be snickering,” Ivana admits. “Jokes like ‘smell check’ instead of ‘spell check’ are making the office rounds. You fear you’ve lost credibility with your coworkers and that now, during any presentation you give, the whole audience will be awaiting the punch line, so to speak. You begin to wonder if you shouldn’t just do it again, this time on purpose, since it appears to be such a popular story. On the bright side: Be grateful you have brought humor to the office, and that this, too, shall pass. And remind yourself that even if they aren’t dignified, farts are normal and natural.”
Fear #2: Since when did I become a Viking? The downy beard that suddenly appeared in your first trimester won’t go away, at least until after you give birth. As your pregnancy progresses, odds are it will only get thicker and longer, until (in your darkest, keep-you-up-at-night fears) you will have to consider either coloring it, braiding it, or naming it.
“Reality check: You don’t need to hide yourself in a tower like the Bearded Lady version of Rapunzel,” Ivana assures. “Wax the beard, and remind yourself that its cause—your hormones—won’t be this out-of-whack forever. Just try not to follow my lead and wax right before a party. Let’s just say that a red rash on my cheek was not the glamorous look I was going for. Fortunately, I had long hair and was able to flip it over the left side of my face, rocking a sultry new look as I sipped my mocktail.”
Fear #3: Why do my feet look like Andre the Giant? Feet can grow a size or two during pregnancy. You may be worried that by third trimester, your tootsies will be growing almost as fast as your baby!
“If your feet ‘decide’ to grow, you can’t stop them,” Ivana points out. “But on the bright side, it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to a pair of gorgeous new shoes. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable enough without having to deal with sore feet and pinched toes!”
Fear #4: Oh crap, I’ve crapped myself. What mom hasn’t worried that in the delivery room she’ll deliver more than she bargained for? The last thing you want is for everyone present at your baby’s birth to witness a bowel movement, too.
“The fact is, pooping during childbirth is possible and normal,” Ivana says. “But for most expectant moms, that doesn’t make the possibility seem any less embarrassing. For what it’s worth, I can assure you that in the midst of bringing your child into the world, your mind will be on other things. And if you find out later that you did drop a deuce, the beauty is that you can blame it on the baby.”
Fear #5: I’m going to be the world’s worst mom. You may be thinking, I’m totally underqualified for this position! You feel that what you don’t know about motherhood vastly outweighs what you do know, and you worry that you’ll make the wrong decisions, buy the wrong baby gear, and inadvertently do more harm than good as you try to raise your child.
“Reality check. Perfection doesn’t exist, except in one important point: You are the perfect mom for your baby,” Ivana assures. “Though you may find yourself absentmindedly pouring your wine into your baby’s sippy cup instead of a glass, your house is chaos central, and you’ve forgotten where you’ve put everything including your identity, the very fact that you are wondering whether you’ll be a good mother is a good indication that you will be.”
“The most important thing to remember is that pregnancy and motherhood, like life itself, are never going to be perfect—and that’s okay,” Ivana concludes. “So expect to experience obstacles and bumps on the road to parenthood, and don’t allow them to rob you of your confidence. I promise, in the grand scheme of things, rookie mistakes and bodily functions gone awry won’t hold a candle to the magical and meaningful experience of bringing a new life into the world.”
Ivana is the author of A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess , is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom.