I am an avid information gatherer... and this applies to all aspects of my personality and lifestyle. Be it, finding the best deal for a certain something, or needing to know "who will be at the party?", to scrutinizing labels for nutritional value... I rarely go with the flow and prefer to know more before buying, going, or eating.

For better or for worse I didn't honestly apply that philosophy when deciding to become pregnant. There are several reasons for this, 1: my age 2: if I did know what to expect, I probably would have anyway and 3: I was hoping to get pregnant early to avoid a hot hot summer. Well, we know I failed at number 3 and things are running real hot lately. Truth be told there are many things that a woman can benefit from knowing in advance of becoming pregnant... there are things you can prepare for and many others you simply cannot.

It goes without saying that my opinions are based purely on my own experience and that of a few other brave women that are close to me (S+J). So if you find you don't agree, well you've probably had a totally different experience from me/us. I honestly have a lot of opinions and thoughts on what it's like to be pregnant as well as a huge list of "Gee, no-one told me that!" Anyway here are 5 ideas of mine.

Obvious things to have in your court before even -thinking- of getting pregnant:

1. A loving and supportive partner.
I simply could not have done this without the love of my husband. I have fallen upon his shoulders time and time again. He is the one I share the happy, scary and sad with, and I believe pregnancy can create 'crazy' in a woman from time to time and it's best aided with love and positive energy. I could do it alone, but I wouldn't choose it honestly. My partnership provides me with so much, I wouldn't have it any other way personally.

2. A loving and supportive relationship with said partner.
I'm a firm believer in therapy and couples therapy -before- marriage. You've got to be able to admit when you're wrong, and keep your head when conflicts arise. I'm also fully against 'having a child to make things better in the relationship", yuk, manipulation, who needs it? Not your child, that's for sure. I think its easier to start on a family when you have a healthy, open relationship with your partner. Do I need to add in here that it is also terribly important to not only talk about your own fears and desires but to understand the ones your partner has as well... afterall it isn't all about you, so show some respect :-)

3. A financial plan.
It's gonna cost ya, just be ready for that. If you have planned your finances when stocking up for the new addition you'll reduce a lot of stress. Save in advance if you can... and be sure to buy the following book: Baby Bargains. If it doesn't save you money it certainly will be the best in product review and evaluation guide you use.

4. Lots of patience and flexibility.
It could take up to a year for the seed to plant itself. You may be 9 months pregnant in July when its 90 outside. You may run into complications which require you to leave work... endless possibilities. It helps if you can adapt to what comes your way instead of expecting things to go a certain path.

5. Realistic goals.
You will get fat, lose sleep, fart a lot, get weak, become emotionally colorful, have tons of books to read, develop swollen genitals, have to skip some parties and develop a liking for sitting on your bum watching movies. The idea once again is not to become too attached to a particular pregnancy vision, because more than likely things will change and require you to tread a different path.