Okay, I’m generalizing here. Let me take a step back:
10 Things I don’t want to hear!
One of the most important lessons I have learned in life is this: Before uttering a word, make sure that it is necessary to say it. Also, ask yourself if you should be the one to say it!
Even before my bump started to show, since started to tell people that we were expecting, the focus at dinner tables, coffee/tea breaks, phone conversations, and chit-chats has been on pregnancy and parenthood. Some exchange has been incredibly helpful, reassuring, calming, or simply funny. Which is great. But the ones below have got on my nerves, especially because they keep coming from various different people, some of whom are complete strangers, on various occasions, in various circumstances. Meaning, I am tired of hearing these.
1. Your life will never be the same!
Yes, yes, I know. Thanks for the tip. Don’t scare a pregnant mum anymore than she already is. Everybody knows that my life will never be the same, I mean, duh! Why would you need to say this?
2. Get all the sleep you can now — you won’t get any sleep for years after the baby arrives!
This is repeated so often to everyone who’s ever been pregnant, it almost doesn’t need any explanation. It is unnecessary because everyone knows that newborns require zombie-parents. But these parents who warn us about sleeping must have forgotten how hard it can be for a pregnant woman to sleep! For many pregnant women, it feels like every part of their body is swelling, including our nose! But the amount of blood circulating in our body is ridiculous, so much so that the stuffy and blocked nose will prevent one from breathing properly, thus, sleeping solidly at night.
Add to this the big belly, the kicking baby, and the constant bathroom breaks- you get the idea. Sleep just might be an issue now. I know you mean well, but just please don’t say it again to me. Thanks.
3. Wow! Do you know how big the baby is? (Another version is “Are you sure you’re not having twins?!”)
Nearly every woman has heard this one in some form or another when she’s pregnant, and, in this day and age, when we should simply know that it is a bad idea to comment in this manner on someone’s body, why would you go there? Every body is different. Your sister, wife, daughter might not have had as big a bump as mine, but it does not mean anything about the baby.
4. ”It’s going to hurt so much—are you scared?!” or “omg, my labor was the worst pain of my life.”
This one falls under the “not helpful/stop scaring me” category. I have already been freaking out- even though meditation and affirmations, and good birthing stories do help. Stop freaking me out more.
5. “Your due date is terrible timing because it’s so close to Christmas”
What a strange remark, on so many levels. First, I cannot imagine a better Christmas gift. Second, yes, it might be harder to find a doula, but Christmas is the last week of December, our due date is in the first half of the month. Third, how do you know what religious practices, if any, we follow? Again, in this day and age, give me a break, and don’t say anything unless it is helpful in any way.
6. “Are you going to try again for a girl?” or “you should have another one. One child makes them lonely”.
Let me get this straight: It is none of your business how many children I plan to have. What is more, I know so much loneliness in large families, and so much love and compassion in small families with only one kid. As long as we give our little guy the love and joy and peace he deserves, we’ll do just fine. Thanks.
7. After the baby, forget having time for yourself.
Ugh, the ultimate guide to parenting. Every family is different, you do as you think is proper with your own, and I will do what I think is best for my family. Especially after reading Judith Warner’s book I have come to the conclusion that one of the worst things that could happen to my child is for him to know that her mummy is unhappy. My sad memories from my own childhood are mostly from when I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that my parents were not happy with their life.
Mums should not have to lose who we were before we were mothers. Most men certainly get to keep their pre-child identities unscathed. So both for my sake and the sake of my child, my husband and I are determined to make sure, as much as we can, that I have my own personal time to maintain my non-mum identities. This might mean my husband taking care of the baby when I am swimming in the Mediterranean, or when I am writing my blog post, or editing a book chapter. One stay-at-home mum might leave her child with the grandparents for a couple of hours, another mummy might be using the help of a nanny, and you might prefer to be with your child 24/7. It’s your own decision, but do not think that your way is the only way.
8. Get an epidural! / don’t get an epidural!
I generally have a really low tolerance for pain. My best hope is that I can handle pain when it comes directly from my own body. Like, I don’t take pain medication, at all, even when I have a bad headache, or menstruation cramps; but I lose sleep the night before going to the a doctor’s appointment, expecting pain. And, although I have already started to read about alternative, natural ways to reduce and/or live through pain, who knows what will happen when the time comes? I heard someone say that her labour was “a pleasure” (a pleasure!), another used the word “painless” (painless!!) yet many others had excruciating experiences, for whatever reason. Some had epidural and are swearing by it, some have experienced negative consequences and lasting side-effects. I have come to the conclusion that just like many other body-related activities, every body is reacting to this experience (of birth) differently. So, again, do me a favour and do not give me advice I did not ask for.
9. “Ugh. I would never want a child.”
I have had many dog parents tell me how much they despise cats, or how “cats are not the same”. But, darling, I know that cats are not like dogs, and that is why I have cats (even though I adore dogs too!).
I have always wanted a child. I get along much better with non-adult humans and non-human animals! But you might be different, and it’s all fine. Just keep repeating after me: Does it really need to be said?
10. “You should eat more! You’re eating for two!” and/or “Watch what you’re eating. You don’t want to gain too much weight” and/or “I don’t think you should eat that.”.
First of all, those extra calories we need to take are not generally more than 200- 300 calories. Have two more bananas, and you are done for the day. Second of all, more important than how much you eat is what you eat. We should try to keep a balanced diet, as much as we can. I have been having my share of those sleepless nights when I finish an entire jar of a chocolate ice cream or the whole pack of crisps, but, generally, even my snacks have been healthy. I mean, not to brag, but have you tasted my gluten-free, chocolate chip cookies?
Finally, and most crucially, we should not stress too much about it. As long as we do our best, and cover the basics (such as the intake of folate, iron, and vitamins) we will do just fine.
I read quality and informative work on maternity and newborn nutrition, I have a great OBGYN who tells me that I should keep my exercise routine (and that it is good for me and the baby), and encourages me to continue what I am already doing.
So, perhaps, next time, at least consider keeping your hands off my ice-cream jar (and my belly!)?