I still remember the comments I received during my very first pregnancy. They ran the gamut in terms of content, but a great many were along the lines of, "Oh, if you think pregnancy is hard, just wait 'til you have an actual baby to take care of! Pregnancy is the easy part!"
I remember being terrified and annoyed in equal measure, but deep down I assumed they were just speaking the truth. I mean, even just the idea of raising a human being sounds intense, so of course in comparison, nine months of gestation must be a breeze.
Fast forward to now. Currently pregnant with my third child and with four years of parenting under my belt, I can now say my piece on the subject. Yes: Parenthood is definitely harder than pregnancy, BUT that doesn't mean that pregnancy and giving birth are a cake walk. I learned so many things through pregnancy and birth that helped prepare me for this new mama journey.
Yep, the sleeplessness experienced during pregnancy is only the beginning. Unless you wind up with a rare unicorn baby—a magical, little being who sleeps through the night early on and with ease—you will probably be enduring a lot of sleepless nights. You will feel exhaustion like you have never known before. The good news is that all that discomfort and constant peeing that kept you up in the night during pregnancy was at least slight preparation for the sleep deprivation on the horizon.
2. The unpredictability
Pregnancy and birth taught me to let go.
As much as you prepare for pregnancy and birth, in the end it is a force of nature that you can't control. The same goes for parenting. You will do the very best job that you can, but in the end you cannot force a child to be as you want them to be (e.g. compliant, a good sleeper, a good eater) and they will always find new ways to surprise you or throw you for a loop. Pregnancy and birth taught me to let go and try my best to just embrace the experience, to let go of expectations to the best of my ability.
3. The selflessness
You don't realize how selfish you are until you become a parent. Little ones are at our mercy for meeting their most basic needs and this requires a heaping dose of selflessness. It is exhausting caring for another human being 24/7. Luckily pregnancy and birth are a good practice. Sacrificing your body quite literally (hello stretch marks and scars and saggy boobs!) for your baby is a small foray into all the self-sacrifice that you will be called upon for in the future as a parent.
4. The empowerment you feel after bringing a human life into the world
No matter the route a baby takes to enter the world, there is something so empowering about knowing that you grew that life and gave it everything it needed. And whether you have a vaginal birth or a C-section, it is a pretty amazing feat to bring life into the world, and all that strength is proof that you can do hard things. It's a very important reminder you will need as you tackle parenting.
5. The fact that it feels like forever, but goes by in a flash
Pregnancy is much like your little one's childhood. At some points it will feel as though it might drag on forever, but then sometimes you'll be taken aback by how quickly it's flying by. "The days are long, but the years are short" was never more true.