My husband and I recently found out that we are expecting our first child – I’ll pause now to smile beatifically and relish the confetti and balloons that are figuratively falling from the sky in joyful celebration. As I near the end of my first trimester*, we have slowly but surely begun to share the news with our nearest and dearest. As each individual notification and excitement occurs**, I’ve noticed a peculiar trend that happens whenever we share the news with a current parent versus a non-parent – it’s a particular expression that the parents get right after the initial shock, shrieking and hugs are shared. Once they settle back into their seats, basking in the glory of my newfound pre-natality (that’s totally a word, I checked), a gleam comes into their eyes. Their smile slowly widens from surprised beam to hungry grin. Their chin begins to dip ever-so-slightly, and their posture relaxes into an active strike pose, much like a large jungle cat when it spots the one gazelle that was too busy drinking from the watering hole to notice it’s friends have vacated the premises on account of not wanting to be eaten. “Ok bitch,” their body language seems to be telling me, “settle in, because I’m about to learn you up somethin’ good.”*** And after the look appears, the conversation always begins with an offer…
“Hey listen, if you have ANY questions, I’m totally here for you,” they begin, delighted by their own ability to help.
“Thanks,” I say, “I will definitely take you up on that when I do.” And I mean it! Let’s be honest here, the closest I’ve ever coming to raising a child is babysitting my college friends through their 21st birthdays. I’m going to need all of the support I can get, so when I feed my kid too many pureed beets and he or she passes something that looks like a prop from the Saw movies, I’ll have someone to tell me that it is not, in fact, a surefire symptom of cancer of the butthole, as I weep hysterically into a hopefully-unused diaper. But the conversation never stops there, as a wide and welcome offer of help and guidance that comfortably waits for a need that will inevitably arise. No, dear friends, the next words out of our lovely parent’s mouth is always:
“Let me just give you some advice right now…”
What follows doesn’t matter – among other suggestions, I’ve heard that I should, nay MUST interview dozens of hospitals, consider home birth in a water tub, tell my doctor I absolutely want drugs, properly prep myself for labor because drugs are for pussies, condition my nipples for breastfeeding, decide what formula to use so my husband can help with the feedings because FUCK breastfeeding, research child care for my triumphant return to work, lay the groundwork with my job that I may not want to come back to work, and for Pete’s sake, do NOT bring up the topic of vaccinations with anybody ever, ever, ever.
Now, before anybody jumps down my throat for being an ignorant slut****, I fully recognize that these are all valuable pieces of advice. But, maybe not all of them are for all moms-to-be, and most of them are just too soon. I love hearing about other people’s experience, and I know other parents will be a primary source of education for me, but my head is already swimming – I maybe don’t need to hear anything about your episiotomy just yet. Perhaps after a few months, when the novelty and wonder has worn off slightly and I’m comfortable with some of the grosser aspects of pregnancy, you can bring this up in conversation naturally. Like, let’s say my co-worker got drunk and went for that intimate piercing she’s always wanted*****, you could say “well, on the topic of mutilated vaginas, have I got a story for you!” I’ll likely be ready to hear about your experience and would welcome the mental prep. But the first convo post-reveal is probably not the time to explain why you can’t wear lace thongs anymore.
And this kind of overwhelming battery of info is why I have now come to dread the look. Parents, trust me – your newly pregnant friends DO want to learn from you, and you will have ample time to share your wisdom! But I beg of you, when they first share the news, just skip to the end of this conversation. Because this verbal explosion of knowledge always – ALWAYS – ends with some variation of the following advice:
“And seriously, don’t listen to all of those other parents. They’ll just make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t do exactly what they did. Just remember that you know what’s best for you and your child, and don’t let anyone else bring you down!”
And that has been the most valuable piece of advice we could hear right now. I’ll call you later when I get gas pains, so you can tell me that farts now don’t necessarily mean I’m definitely going to poop on the table.******
*And what a bitch that was, amirite ladies??? BONDING!
** This confetti is biodegradable, right? Because I’m like, so into going green with this baby – the children are our future, no?
***Why their bodies sound like they grew up in the backwaters of Mississippi is an unanswerable question
****My husband bet me I couldn’t use this SNL reference in a pregnancy article. You owe me $5, sucker!
*****I have a very casual work environment, apparently
******Which I know I probably won’t care about in the moment – a friend from high school taught me that in a text exchange five seconds after I told her I was knocked up