I’m dedicating this one to my sister. She is due next month with her first child. Of course, she has spent the better part of the last 36 weeks being bombarded with advice, most of it unsolicited and, often, useless. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Within moments of going public with news of your pregnancy, anyone that has ever laid eyes on a baby has some pearl of wisdom that they MUST bestow upon you. I mean ANYONE AND EVERYONE. Your family, your friends, the lady behind you in the checkout line, the cashier at the frozen yogurt parlor. EV. REE. ONE. Perfect strangers will, without hesitation, inquire about your tentative birth plan or whether you plan on breastfeeding. They’re not just asking for small talk, either. To most of these people, there IS a right answer and a wrong answer. Are you pro-epidural? Well, if you didn’t know about it before, you’ll meet at least one person that will provide you a lengthy and detailed synopsis of “The Business of Being Born” and launch into a diatribe about inductions, interventions, floppy babies and the c-section rate in the US. Thinking about going unmedicated? Well, prepare yourself because best friends and strangers alike will laugh condescendingly as they place bets on how long it will be before you’re begging for an epidural because if they can’t fathom the thought of enduring labor past 3cm, the only people who could or would are either stupid or crazy. If you state your intent to breastfeed, you’ll hear about how they did it for a day or a week and, you’ll learn the hard way like they did, that it is too hard or too inconvenient or too gross. If you plan on using formula, you’ll hear all about its inferiority as a nutrition source, the evils of Nestle, and the words obesity, diabetes, and asthma over and again.
So, for her and anyone else interested, I’m here to cram my opinions, thoughts and advice on the subject down your throat:
1) If you can’t see your vulva, don’t go blindly waving a twelve blade razor around the area. What has your clitoris ever done to you that would warrant threatening it in such a way? Get a professional or, at minimum, a spotter.
2) The two people who made the baby are the only people who get a say in the baby’s name. Rest assured, if you choose to share the name, there will be people who will hate the name and will make no attempt whatsoever to disguise their disgust. Often, they will offer you one or more alternatives from their mental list of acceptable baby names that, evidently, they have compiled for anytime someone is discussing the name they have chosen for their unborn child.
3) That man of yours that has been so wonderful, funny, charming–your soul mate, since the day you two met? Well, he is soon going to become the most selfish, worthless idiot you’ve ever known because any man who loved you, much less his child, would have taken the time to read those pregnancy books and would know better than to serve you a sandwich overflowing with three kinds of deli meats. If he’s anything like my husband, the asshole will cheat on you in your dreams all the time. We’re still working through that in counseling.
4) Someone, somewhere, at some point in time, declared that the bodies of pregnant women were public domain. Perfect strangers will approach you in the mall, in the streets or right out of a bathroom stall and molest you if you appear at all pregnant. I’m urging pregnant women everywhere to put their sore, tired, swollen foot down and reclaim their autonomy. Do it for yourself. Do it for womankind.
5) The father of your child will say something stupid when you are in labor. Trust me. It will most likely be one of the following:
a) “I’m so tired.”
b) “My back is killing me.”
c) “At least you get to lay in a bed.”
d) “How much longer is this going to take?”
6) IMPORTANT! IMPORTANT! IMPORTANT! Do NOT become tempted to get a mirror and check out your undercarriage for, at least, several weeks after you launch a new human from your birth cannon. TRUST ME! There are few things more traumatizing than holding a mirror to get a look at your south side and having a wide open, clear view up to your brain. I promise, it’s all going to go back to normal. Just give it more than an hour.
1) You are not going to sleep. Not for a long, long time. Just accept it. Your friend that tells you about their baby that started sleeping in 12 hour shifts at the age 3 hours old is either a liar or an asshole for responding to your lack of sleep complaint with her supernatural tale, especially when she uses the “that’s so weird” tone. End the friendship. Don’t take the advice of the other friend and start giving your 3 week old infant cereal. Look, if you wanted to sleep, you shouldn’t have had a baby.
2) You aren’t cool anymore. You never will be. Just accept it. The most you can hope for is being “cooler” than some other parents. Your cool quotient will decrease in direct proportion to the number of children you have. You can be one of those, “I’ll NEVER own a minivan” parents but, trust me, unloading four kids from a Tahoe doesn’t make you cooler than the parent unloading three from a Sienna.
3) If you don’t already have some sort of crafty talent that can be honed into a business, you better get one. Get to the craft store, stock up on ribbons, glue sticks, tulle and glitter and get to work. You are going to have to have some merchandise to show if your vision of using Etsy and Facebook as a stepping stone to a bricks and mortar bow and tutu shop is ever going to come to fruition. If you lack the creative, artsy-fartsy gene, other acceptable mom businesses include fragrant wax warming systems and body wraps.
4) Before having a child, you would have sex several times a week, anywhere you wanted. That was BEFORE you had a child. Now, if you aren’t too tired to have sex, you’ll only have 5-10 minutes to make some magic happen. Oh, you always liked getting started with a little oral? Well, who didn’t? Now, your new favorite foreplay is called “who can get their pants off the fastest”. Foreplay is a thing of the past, as is sexual fulfillment and satisfaction. Your mood music repertoire may have included Al Green or Paramore but now the tune that will accompany your romantic trysts goes like: “D-D-D-D-D-Dora, D-D-D-D-D-Dora! Dora, Dora, Dora the explorer…”. Just accept it. Trust me, in no time at all, not only will that be like your mating call, you will also have a sexy (and I use that term loosely) little dance that goes along with it.
5) If the other moms in the neighborhood, at the park or in the play group ask: you are all gluten-free. This is like a cult. Conspicuously carry a bottle of gluten-free ranch to give your children with their veggie sticks. If the little blabber mouth slips about Shipley’s donut holes, launch into a tirade about your friend, now ex-friend, babysitting while you went to a last-minute doctor’s appointment and filling your child with gluten and red dye, despite her KNOWING that you were following the Feingold diet.
6) Privacy is in your past. Just accept it. Whether you are taking a piss or going over every inch of your face and body, tweezers in hand, looking for anymore out-of-place hairs like that one you found under your chin a few weeks ago, you are going to have a captive, and chatty, audience. They’re also going to tell everybody about what they witness.
7) Which reminds me: You’re going to start finding weird hairs in weird places. Few things will ruin a night out faster than going to the bathroom and noticing, for the very first time, a 5 inch hair that looks like a piano wire growing out of your neck.
8) You think you’re critical of your body? HA! Wait until that fuck trophy starts talking! That I have maintained the slightest degree of self-esteem is nothing short of a miracle. Every dimple, every zit, every flabby bit, will be identified and pointed out. It isn’t said with any malice. It is just an observation, said in either a question form, as if to wonder if you were aware or inquiring as to what the blemish or flaw is, or said just to point out, as if just letting you know it was there was pertinent.
9) Moms can be horrible to other moms. For some reason, this phenomenon isn’t prevalent between dads. It is just moms. They will judge you and every choice you make. Don’t listen. Don’t get sucked in. Don’t let them make you second guess yourself. You listen to YOUR instincts. You listen to YOUR baby. You do what feels right to you. These are miserable bitches. Their lives are so sad and meaningless, that their only source of validation is admonishing other mothers. I feel sorry for them because it is so obvious that they’ve never been introduced to wine.
10) You’ll hold your baby and cry because you’re so overwhelmed with love, you know you could never give this life up.
11) You’ll cry because you’re so overwhelmed, you think you would.
12) Now that you’ve provided an heir, everyone will stop asking, “when are you going to have a baby”. Don’t go getting comfortable, though. NOW, the question everyone will ask is, “when are you going to have another one”. If and when you have a second child, it is usually general curiosity about whether or not you plan on having more. Any more than three, however, and everyone suddenly shifts to wondering when the hell you’re going to stop breeding. Every person that says, “You know what causes that, don’t you”, seems to believe that it MUST be the first time you’ve ever heard that joke, even when they say it to you at every, single family function.
13) Babies grow up fast. Real fast. Don’t blink or, if you have to blink, take lots of pictures. You don’t need professional shots every half hour. The snapshots are the ones that you will really treasure. The ones with the story that you remember so vividly, even though it was 11 years ago and it was so insignificant to everyone else around. You’ll remember every stitch of his clothing and every giggle from that moment captured in time.
14) Pick your battles. If your two-year old son wants to play with a knife, take immediate action. If he wants to play with your purse, no one is going to get hurt.
15) You’ll eat so much crow after you have a baby. You’ve spent years judging other parents, listing out the things you’d never do or that you’d do so much better. It’s so easy to be a perfect parent when you’re standing on the outside looking in but minutes after your larvae comes screaming from your loins, reality is going to kick you square in the taco. Sure, YOUR kid is never going to watch TV! Then, one day, you’re going to want to take a shower or a crap and you’ll say YOUR child will only watch educational shows and only one a day. Then, you’re going to want to make a phone call or have sex with your husband or just a moment of peace and it all goes out the window. Of course, YOUR kid is never going to have any sugar. EVER. Then they will. Your kid is going to be completely conversational in sign language by the age of 6 months because studies show that they have a better grasp of language later and will complete their master’s degree in under a year. Then, if there is a God, you’ll wake up one day and stop worrying about stupid shit.