Unsolicited advice and pregnancy are like drunkards and a frat party, you can’t have one without the other. My decision to find out the gender of our child was analyzed and critiqued by a grocery store clerk. What I truly wasn’t prepared or hormonally stable enough for was the shock value I encountered. I am referring to the sheer volume of horror stories I fielded during my pregnancy. It was like my physical presence as a pregnant woman triggered everyone’s desire to reminisce about their darkest and craziest pregnancy/parenting stories.
Does all social etiquette fly out the window when there’s a pregnant woman in the room? (Note: I am not referring to advice that was solicited. I had a couple good friends and a sister who I frequently asked for honest answers to my questions about pregnancy and parenting.) By all means skip the third mimosa at my baby shower if prevents me from hearing about your son’s accidental home birth.
The faux pas don’t end with unwarranted pregnancy stories; the worst and most psychologically destructive for my delicate emotional state during pregnancy were the grossly exaggerated horrors of parenting. I grew exhausted of the phrases “get your sleep now…” “do things for yourself now– you won’t have time once the baby arrives” “enjoy your spouse now, just wait…” or “go out while you still can!” Welcome to the trend of new parent verbal hazing?! The most flabbergasting element of these comments was the necessary ignorance it would require to infer a pregnant woman has the capacity to “enjoy her sleep” or “enjoy date nights with her spouse.” Um, these pensive memos are about seven months too late. If these comments are flying out of your mouth and you’ve endured a pregnancy, your memory is corrupted by amnesia. Pregnant women don’t enjoy a blissful night’s sleep and I certainly didn’t enjoy lugging an extra 30 lbs to a romantic restaurant or fawning all over my husband at dinner while my acid reflux ripped apart my internal organs. There is a hierarchy for the unwarranted remarks I fell victim to and gracing the top is the “ready for this?” remark. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you will. This is when someone’s child is having an earth-shattering public meltdown (obviously one of the worst parenting days) and the parents point to their child and say “ready for this?” Really?!? What am I going to do go back in time and not get pregnant? Think McFly think!!
I get that parents want to commiserate but can you do this with another parent instead of bringing down an innocent and naive pregnant woman? After being completely lambasted for six months I remember scouring the internet one night in a complete panic for any article that would spin parenting in a positive light. I needed reassurance that a plague of misery wasn’t headed my way. Most of what I found was “here’s the 300,000 selfless things I’ve had to do in the past two days but it’s completely worth it” parenting articles. Here’s the article I wish I would have found when I needed reassurance: (it’s not applicable to the first couple weeks which were a complete shit show)
Yes, parenting is difficult but I am here to tell you the verbal hazing is unnecessary! You can get sleep as a parent (you may need to go to bed at 8:30 pm but you can get it), you still spend alone time with your spouse, you can spend thirty minutes doing your makeup (if it’s really that important to you), and you can even go out–enjoying it more since it’s less frequent. I’m not asserting your life remains status quo but you can find time to do things you love and enjoy gluttonous endeavors once you’re a parent. As long as you have a supportive spouse and find the right balance a lot remains the same. It’s OK for your child to entertain himself while you take a quick shower or do your hair. My husband and I spend our nights identically to those pre-child: watching bad reality TV or having a drink and hanging out. I still have time to shower daily, do my nails, workout, etc. The difference is prioritizing what I spend time doing when I have free time since it’s more infrequent.
I’ll prepare myself for the “just wait until you have a toddler” or “just wait until you have multiple children” remarks but I wanted to project out positive energy for all the women enduring pregnancy for the first-time; I know I needed it and couldn’t find it. My life is more challenging and rewarding but oddly similar to how it was in the past. I undoubtedly have a lot more to learn about the sacrifices of being a parent in the coming years as my child gets older and subsequently more adversarial or I add another into the mix. Every parent needs comic relief, it’s like any job and some days you want to quit, so I fully intend on joking about the trials and tribulations on my blog. However, I will always steer clear from comparing myself to other parents or complaining endlessly about being a parent. My goal is to stay positive and support all parents since we all have our own unique set of challenges. For all the first-time parents, welcome to the “club”, and forgive us for terrifying you on our “bad parenting” days.