Happy July! This month’s theme is pregnancy and we have Emily Dickey, mother of two (4 year old boy and 2 year old daughter). She is an avid advocate for maternal health and has tons of insight on the pregnancy and parenting process. We have so much to learn from her and are excited to see what she has to contribute for the month of July!

1. Have you always wanted to be a mom?

Definitely. I always wanted a career, too, but also knew that someday I would be a mom.
2. How was your second pregnancy in relation to the first? Was it better, worse? More or less comfortable? Less scary?
I don’t think the first time was scary, but there was much more research and reading done than the second time, haha. The second pregnancy was still exciting and sweet, though, from every movement to every hiccup. But it was definitely harder, too. Probably because I had a non-stop toddler to keep me on my toes! I felt more nauseated and exhausted the second time around.
3. What piece of advice would you give to first-time mothers?
Relax. Easier said than done, I know, but sometimes we can get so worked up about doing it “right” or worrying ourselves silly about doing it “wrong.” Just breathe and let it go. I remember when we had our first, I was a wreck if he started to cry. I thought, “he can’t cry! EVER! I must be doing something wrong!” Being stressed definitely doesn’t help you (or your breastmilk supply) and certainly doesn’t help your baby either.
4. Is Ryan enjoying having a little sister? What is their relationship like?
When he first met her, he said, “She came out!” He is very protective over his little sister, it’s the sweetest thing. But don’t get me wrong, they have their sibling rivalry moments. He’s always picking on her in a big brother way. He keeps asking for another baby, though!
5. What was the craziest food item you craved during pregnancy?
I never really got crazy pregnancy cravings. Pretty boring, I know! I always wanted to tell my husband to rush out at midnight for peanut butter strawberry bacon pickles. With my second, I did crave citrus and had a lot of Starbursts :)
6. What was your experience like having a C-section for your first birth? How did it compare to the home birth for the second?
I could write about this for days so to try to keep it short: the c-section was unplanned and unnecessary and completely traumatizing. I was a mess for a long time. It led me to start our local ICAN chapter (International Cesarean Awareness Network). It’s not even comparable to the homebirth—night and day difference. The homebirth was amazing and healing and comfortable. I can easily say that both birth experiences completely changed my life in very different ways.
7. What was the extent of your husband’s involvement during the births?
During the first (in the hospital), he walked the halls with me until the epidural. Then I have a great photo of him sitting on the bedside chair, looking at his laptop, with headphones on. That about sums up that! Haha. But once I was wheeled in for surgery, he was amazing. He was worried and afterwards he didn’t want to leave my side, but I insisted he go be with our son.
During the second (at home), he was AMAZING. I went through 58 hours of unmedicated labor and I don’t know how HE did it. He held me up, he walked the stairs with me, he rubbed my back, he kept bringing me water… I get teary thinking of it. I couldn’t have done it without him. And my doula ;)
8. During the birth of your first baby, you seem to have been bullied by nurses and doctors to agree to certain things you originally didn’t want. How did you cope with that and what can other expectant mothers do to stand their ground in the face of pain and authoritative persuasion?
I’m not sure I have coped with that. Four years out and I will still get angry about it—but it’s more about the entire state of maternal care in the US than my specific situation. I tell my story and try to help moms—not necessarily so they can avoid the situation I was in, because that’s not possible, but to prepare them for whatever may come their way. I was educated and I knew what I wanted, but I was naive and was not prepared. I think it’s important that moms know their rights and know that they can say NO, but I think it’s more important that a mom expects the unexpected… that moms are prepared (and comfortable) with whatever may come their way. Your care provider plays a role in the experience so a lot of this starts at the very beginning of pregnancy, too.
9. What are some practices you did to help stay comfortable during pregnancy?
I felt nauseated all day long so I made sure to constantly have little snacks. I kept crackers by my bed and this also helped keep away the heartburn. My favorite thing during pregnancy was my maternity pillow! I had a curved one (Sealy SweetPea) to put between my knees and under my belly and I couldn’t live without it. I did a lot of “meditation” style relaxation, too, with Birthing From Within.
10. What is your biggest piece of advice for women going through their first pregnancy?
I hate when people say to enjoy every moment because sometimes pregnancy just sucks! Haha. So my advice is to write down any feelings you have about your pregnancy or upcoming birth. List any fears or doubts or worries (because I know we all have some) and be specific. Then work through each one. Ask yourself how it is a problem for you and how will things be IF that situation were to actually occur? What do YOU do next? I think it helps ease fears and definitely helps prepare moms for the unexpected and cope with changes.
11. What type of articles do you plan on writing for the month of July?
I attended the Birthing From Within mentor workshop in Chicago the last weekend of June so I hope to write about my experience there. I will also have some fun summer activities, travel stories, recipes, and relevant reviews. I used to write a lot about pregnancy and birth on my site and as I begin the process to become a childbirth educator, I hope to get back to more of that.
12. Do you feel like you can inspire women in their 20′s and 30′s? If so how would you go about doing this?
Well, I hope so. I attended a conference where they talked about generational differences in inspiring and motivating people. Generation Y is so connected by social media and we just have to know what everyone else is doing. We want to do what everyone else is doing. “Ohhhh, there’s a new pain med available to try during labor? Well did my friends get it? Is my doctor telling me I should get it? I’ll do what everyone else is doing.” The “norm” can quickly turn once everyone starts talking about it—or when celebs start using it, wearing it, etc. The best way to reach Generation Y is to draw on that desire to be like everyone else. Unlike Generation X, who all want to be individuals and try the “new” thing! I simply hope to inspire women to be empowered… to do their own research and make their own decisions. 
13. Who does Lady Lennia represent to you?
The independent and strong woman, which lives inside all of us. It’s whoever we WANT to be.
14. What makes you a great Lady Lennia for the July pregnancy edition?
I am passionate about pregnancy and maternal care in the US. Of course I’ve been pregnant myself twice, both with very different outcomes, but I also have a background in it. I have a master’s in physiology, am a local ICAN leader, and am currently working on my childbirth educator certification. I am honored to have been asked to be a part of Lady Lennia! If anyone has questions or would just like to chat, I can be reached through my blog (babydickey.com) or email (erdickey at gmail dot com).