Shit People Don’t Tell Sarah Olsen


One of the things I adore most about Sarah is how forthcoming she is. This is why this piece is everything you want to know, but are rarely told.  She was the first person I came to with questions when I became pregnant, and as all of you know, she is a beautiful, insightful, generous, non-judgmental wealth of information.  Enjoy dear readers!  

xx, Kacy, editor, Your Zen Mama


About your first pregnancy...

Being pregnant is SO different for everyone. Once you get to the I want to have kids stage in life, you start to realize a few things.


One: It’s harder to get pregnant than you thought. Those heavy breathing make out sessions you had in college that got a little handsy and left you slightly worried for the next couple weeks, were all for pretty much nothing because it’s hard as shit to get pregnant. I mean sure, some women get sneezed on and they have a new baby on the way, but for most of the women I know, it takes a few months to a year on average.


Two: You find out you’re pregnant, and then you have to wait a few weeks to even see the doctor! I had NO idea this would be the case. I peed on a stick and with the stick in hand, I called my doctor, “Oh my god I'm pregnant can I come in a see the baby and plan the birth with you?” Ok maybe that wasn’t the actual quote but that’s what I thought when I called. The very sweet, but also very aware nurse said, “ you can come in when you are six and a half weeks along to get some blood work and for the first ultrasound.” I was like WHAT?! What am I supposed to do until then?


Three: Technically, you are pregnant for 10 months, and that’s basically a year, and by the time you have the baby and are recovering it feels like it’s been ages. This is a magical, and crazy ride, but I don’t think anyone ever says while you are trying to “plan” having a baby, “you’ve got tons of time to stress you won’t even meet the baby for 10 months.”


About your second pregnancy...

HOLY MOLY. Everything hurts more. Maybe not for everyone, there are exceptions for sure. BUT WOAH.. I felt super pregnant at like 10 weeks. I looked 6 months pregnant at 4 months and everything hurt on the belly and the body SO much sooner. By the time I was 20 weeks along, the pain in my pelvic floor/ pubic bone was so intense it felt like I was bruised internally. Your body gets ready for birth so much sooner, so you feel every little thing way early on. I personally was moodier, more tired, and had less time to work out. Also, during your first pregnancy you have this blissful time to nap, relax, read books, and focus your mind on this journey and new person entering your world. I remember folding blankets, gazing out the window, envisioning little fingers and toes, touching the space in the middle of the bed with my hand on my belly trying to picture my baby’s face. Cut to being pregnant the second time, I'm wiping boogers, carrying my toddler, balancing a diaper bag, toys, packing lunches, racing to play dates, park trips, prepping dinner, and just doing everything moms do, which includes not doing much for yourself. On one hand, it is uniquely amazing in its own way, but it is COMPLETELY different round two. I had a friend once tell me when she was pregnant the first time, everyone went out of their way to help her, and told her how amazing she looked and helped her carry her groceries, pumped her gas, or just basically did any amazing act of kindness out there. She said when pregnant with baby number two, carrying a screaming toddler through the grocery store, pretty much everyone gave her the look of, “well, you knew what you were getting into.”


About birth...

I actually felt very prepared for birth. I don’t know if people say that very often, but I read so many birth stories, and tried to find perspective from a lot of different women, so by the time I was in labor with Wyatt, Teresa was there with me and she asked, “how does it compare to what you imagined?” I remember standing there rolling my hips just coming down from a wave early on in my labor and I said, “It’s actually exactly how I had imagined it to be.”  The books I felt most prepared me for natural childbirth were Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and Spiritual Midwifery both written by Ina May Gaskin, filled with stories from women all over the world.


What surprised me, though, was how hard it was for me to push. I had heard so many women say that by the time they got to the “pushing stage” it felt really productive and good. I felt like people were telling me they could see the head for days when I was trying to push my son out. For me, it took 4 hours of pushing, and it didn’t feel productive.  It felt slow and a little confusing. I focused my thoughts on everything I could imagine, and nothing seemed to work. I just didn’t know it could take so long. When I started pushing, I thought I would be done in 30 minutes, and I thought if you saw the head then it would be two more pushes and the baby would be out. That final push, though, is so amazing, and the biggest relief. 


About natural childbirth...

Maybe people don't tell you that natural childbirth can be an incredible and empowering experience. I remember growing up, I would hear women complain about periods, childbirth, and the pain surrounding this and the horrible things we have to go through in order to bear children and birth them. As I got older and did my own research, I surrounded myself with women who see this as a gift and gave this journey a different dialogue.  I started to see that I was very lucky to be able to take this on as a human being.


When you have a child, your life changes in so many ways. Maybe the thing people don’t always say is that having a baby naturally, no matter how assisted or unassisted with or without drugs, the journey your body takes to bring this life into the world is one that can not be described, but simply put, it changes you as a woman. From my experience, I feel that no task, job, problem, or struggle in life is too big. I feel like after 17 hours of labor and pushing my son out on my bed, I can do anything. I personally never gave a thought to using an intervention unless something went wrong and my body needed help. I let my body make the journey into being a mother on its own, and I will never be the same. Does that mean it didn’t hurt? Well no, but give it a different word or label. I would instead say that it felt bigger than my body at times and the pressure felt overwhelming, but I had moments to rest and recover, and I took it one wave (contraction) at a time.


About breastfeeding...

The first couple weeks are tough. My boobs hurt SO much during the engorged phase. I felt like they were hard hot rocks sitting on the front of my body that would leak all day like a rusty old faucet in a 1930’s farmhouse. Some of the best advice a postpartum doula gave me was to massage my boobs and express milk every time I was in the shower. This sounds absolutely atrocious if you have engorged breasts, but it’s the best thing you can do to avoid mastitis. You start from the outside of the breast and on any and all hard spots, take your thumb and press in and massage deep all the way to the nipple. This may not feel pleasant (or it might!  It is SUCH a release) but it will soften your breasts, release excess milk, and clear any clogged ducts. You can also do this while you are breastfeeding.


The first few months, you have bad body odor. You sweat all the time.  You wake up drenched in sweat. Your nipples get realllllllllly stretchy the longer you breastfeed. You can leak milk when you have an orgasm, or hear another baby cry, or think about your baby, or think about sex. Also breastmilk is sweet, it kind of tastes like warm melted vanilla ice cream. TMI? Or maybe mine tastes that way because I eat so many donuts.


About going from one to two kids...

I think the part some people may have tried to tell me, but I didn’t really hear is that the first couple of months are tough. It wasn't because of the new baby, it just felt like my older child was being taken away from me all the time. He had school, or a playdate, or lunch with dad. Everyone was so helpful which was amazing, but internally I was so afraid that our relationship was going to change. I was already feeling vulnerable about splitting my time and attention, but it made me even more sad to be away from him for any period of time. I didn’t want our connection to change, and I didn't want him to feel like I was at home with the baby while he was out doing something else. This took a couple months and then we got into our rhythm and our connection grew and changed in very positive ways.


About mom boobs...

They are droopy. And as much as I try to fight it, it’s just the way it is. Once I'm done having kids they will be smaller droopy things, and I will miss my bigger droopier milk boobies. However, the more I see them, the more feminine they look to me. It just feels right that they aren’t perky and round anymore. Gone are the days of the tank top and no bra. I kind of like my floppy boobs. I’m sure I will complain when the milk is gone, and go back and forth a million times on what bra will make them look better. For now though, I’m going to enjoy these milk boobies for as long as they last.


Follow Sarah