By the time I was eight I witnessed an upstanding business woman fall prey to the devil, a reviled billionaire die three times, and a Midwest town leveled by a tsunami. All without ever leaving my couch. Wonders never cease on soap operas.

One might think spending the bulk of your formative years glued to the comings, goings, and reincarnations of beautiful, flawed people could cause irreparable damage. I disagree. Soap operas have made pregnancy and motherhood a breeze. If your sheltered childhood forced you to play outside or read a book, don’t worry. I’m happy to share the wisdom I have imparted from some of the greatest stories ever told.

You’re pregnant! Maybe.

The very act of conception is often a miracle. Women are often surprised to find themselves impregnated. Was it a hole in the diaphragm? Too much Jungle Juice? Was it Satan himself? Sometimes all of the above.

The hardest part about your journey to motherhood is determining if you’re actually pregnant. Sure, the pregnancy test showed a + sign. Your doctor confirmed the results. You’ve stopped drinking and started glowing. But how can you be really sure?

The bad news is you can’t. Sometimes doctors lie because they’re secretly in love with you or exacting revenge from something you did in a past life. Your ex-lover might have paid a former convict to break into your bathroom with a vial full of hCG-laden urine purchased at a New Orleans swap meet. It’s also highly possible your tender breasts, frequent vomiting, and rapid weight gain are the result of a hysterical pregnancy, which are very common.

Your baby bump will be adorable!

What’s up with those giant waistbands and puffy midsections? Everyone knows a full-term baby bump sits directly on your belly and is roughly the size of a volleyball (soccer ball if you’re having a girl.) Gauzy tops and work-appropriate maternity dresses accentuate your prized bump perfectly, but sadly you won’t get to wear them until your eighth month when you start showing.

Your labor will be induced but not by a medical professional.

Due dates are arbitrary. Babies arrive with little warning so make sure the nursery is painted and your hospital bag is packed. Also don’t expect to ease into labor. Active labor triggers immediately. Unless of course you count an airplane/boat/car/ motorcycle crash, being caught off-guard by a tornado/tsunami/earthquake/ volcanic eruption, or finding out your twin sister is alive as a warning. Also, you have a twin sister.

Newborns are huge.

Be prepared to birth a child roughly the size of an eight-month-old. Hope you like stitches!

You will not deliver in a hospital.

Forget the birthing suite tour because whirlpool tubs and WiFi are not in your future. Plan on pushing your little princess into a pile of pine needles or crammed inside the fuselage of your private jet that just went down at the hands of the pilot who was really your vindictive twin sister. Broken elevators, abandoned hunting lodges, and the bottom of a well are also good venues.

Don’t worry about making a mess.

Vaginas are magical and will wash the baby clean as it exits your body.

Babies grow up so fast.

Cherish every moment because it really does go fast. One day you have a gigantic newborn and the next a high schooler. It’s almost like someone else is playing them.

Baby weight, schmaby weight.

That little soccer ball you were toting around in your cute wrap dress? Must have left it in a pile of pine needles.

Fetuses are never gone, but sometimes forgotten.

Take a close look at that friendly waitress or vampy, cutthroat assistant you just hired. See any similarities? Surprise! A child you aborted or gave up for adoption has a 100% chance of finding you.

Doctors can easily remove an unwanted fetus from one womb and implant it into another. Although the biological mother will be none the wiser, the re-homed fetus will be out for revenge.

Double check your baby daddy.

Just as it’s difficult to determine if you’re really pregnant, it’s almost impossible to be sure your intended is the baby daddy. It’s entirely possible your nemesis slipped you a drug, knocked you out, staged the scene of a one-night stand, broke into a sperm bank, stole an anonymous dude’s sperm, stuck it into a turkey baster, inserted it into your lady parts, and knocked you up. Or maybe you sat on a dirty toilet seat.

All anonymous sperm donors will show up in your town eventually and form an inexplicable, yet not at all creepy bond with your child. This person will become your fourth husband.

Babysitters are everywhere.

I mean they have to be. Once a woman has a child she is seldom seen with it.

Doctors are shady AF.

They seldom work and are easily bribed. Never trust your doctor.

If this was helpful, just wait until you hear what I learned about marriage.

Shelly Mazzanoble is the author of Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game and Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons: One Women’s Quest to Trade Self-Help for Elf Help and co-hosts the official Dungeons & Dragons podcast, Dragon Talk. When she’s not writing books with really long subtitles, she’s writing about her child who thankfully hasn’t added the word “litigation” to his vocabulary yet. Her work has most recently appeared on Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, Moms and Stories, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches & Psych Meds, and In the Powder Room. Find her on Instagram at @two_old_moms and her blog at shellymazzanoble.com.

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