alexseanchai suggested that I touch on the topic of pregnancy and birth. I only had the luxury of planning my third and last child, as the first two were surprises. (With Eden, neither doctor nor pharmacist warned me that antibiotics could interfere with birth control.)
I remember when I first found out I was pregnant, it was quite the surprise and I took it crying. Then I went straight to the library and came away with a huge stack of books on pregnancy and homeschooling. I guess the librarian could tell I'd been bawling, because she took one look at me, smiled, and said, “Oh, honey, you're going to do just fine.” I've always remembered that bit of kindness fondly.
My first two pregnancies were easy breezes. I never got morning sickness. The only real change was that I was tired all the time. I slept all day while I was pregnant with Eden. I indulged myself far too much in the idea of “eating for two”, and I'd strongly urge any woman to nip that line of thinking in the bud. I gained way too much weight with all of my pregnancies, though at least I had learned better and was trying to do better with each subsequent one.
I loved learning about pregnancy and childbirth, especially natural and gentle birth choices. While I was pregnant with Eden, I decided that I wanted to become a doula. I took my doula training through DONA, Int'l, although I have not kept up certification with the organization. I haven't actually done doula work since we moved to Missouri, and I miss it a lot. I'd like to take it back up again one day, although I would go through another organization if I chose to get certified. If Childbirth International is still around, I think they certify doulas for life, which is much better than having to recertify all the time.
I had the luxury of planning Maya, but I was older and the pregnancy took a greater toll on me. I did have morning sickness with her, and I couldn't drink coffee or green tea at all. I had trouble walking, which was really hard since I was on my feet all the time for work. My feet would swell up so badly, and after I worked all day and sat down on the car ride home, I wouldn't be able to stand again once I got there so Josh would have to carry me in. Even with a note from my midwife, my boss at Dollar General was not compliant with letting me have a stool and reduced walking. They didn't work with me at all, and the pregnancy really took a lot out of me. (Luckily they were cool about me pumping at work.)
It's often hard to choose the 'right' time to have a child. For me personally, being older definitely made for a harder pregnancy, so I would err on the side of sooner rather than later. But all pregnancies are different, even in the same woman, so it's really just the roll of the dice. Make sure you are as healthy as possible going into it and do your research on childbirth so that you can advocate for the birth experience you want, no matter what that is. Sadly, we live in a birth climate where women absolutely have to advocate for themselves to have positive birth experiences, so know your stuff going into it and you're more likely to have a good experience. Choose a provider whose statistics support the type of experience you want, and consider a doula even if you want a medicated, hospital birth. They're not just for hippy homebirths!