The hardest part about being a first time mom isn’t the part about the baby at all.
It’s listening to the unsolicited advice, snarky comments, and inappropriate questions from the moment it’s known you’re expecting until you have 14 more children.
Because I can at times be a horrible product of my childhood environment I let the actions/reactions of other people steal my joy. I don’t think I spent many moments of my pregnancy legitimately excited and able to voice the excitement to any other human being because of the complete killjoy that surrounds it.
There are so many variables I try to keep in mind when I am given comments or feedback. When announcing pregnancy and faced with comments like, “kiss your freedom goodbye” – “you’d better sleep now because you won’t sleep when the baby arrives” – “you think you’re tired now, wait until you never sleep again” – “you think X is hard now, wait until you’re as large as a beached whale” – “guess your life is ruined now, huh?”
I do my best to bear in mind that maybe they are bitter because of infertility, maybe they long to have a family and are alone, or on a different page than their significant other when it comes to having a family.
There are many different situations that could attribute to the comments, or they could just be a total a-hole. It is what it is.
One thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that I, nor any other woman would like your witty commentary regarding anything to do with:
- Food choices
- Clothing choices
- Anything at all
Just let people have their joy. The next time you discover someone you know is expecting, congratulate them, and stop. Don’t ask 47 more questions. Don’t try to make jokes. Congratulate them and move on. If they want to ask or tell, they will.
And for goodness sake, stop asking “when are you going to have children? Are you going to have more children (especially before the first one is even born)?, Why don’t you have children?”
Allow me to clue you in on something — It. Is. None. Of. Your. Business.
I’d like to say it gets better once the baby arrives and you prove you are surviving buuuuut, it doesn’t. It almost gets worse. Actually, yeah, it does.
Okay, it’s totally awesome to believe that you’re going to be this legit parent who has their head completely screwed on straight and will rock this mom/dad thing, and you will, buuuuuut, someone will always be there to knock you back down a lil bit.
Two weeks into my son’s life and he was showing every sign of acid reflux. He had his appointment with the midwife and she was also confident he was struggling with it. We all know that reflux is common in tiny ones because of the “little flap thing” that doesn’t close properly in their esophagus due to them still developing. Okay, we know.
The midwife sent us a referral over to a regular M.D. and we went to the appointment. I don’t know if they stamp FIRST TIME PARENTS on the file or what but when you roll in that doctors office with a newborn you can for sure count on all the awkward side-eyes peeping at you like “OPE, YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU’RE DOING.”
Hey, you’re right. I don’t. That’s why I’m here.
So, back to this MD, not only was she completely condescending in response to each of our concerns, she didn’t even examine the baby before deciding, “I’m not prescribing reflux medicine to a two week old. Wait a month and come back.”
Why am I here? Why did I just pay for this appointment? What good have you done? None. Alright. Off we went.
I scheduled another appointment with a different clinic and the nurse practitioner came in, looked down his throat, talked with us and said “Wow, yep, he’s got some decent reflux indicators going on.” We started him on Zantac shortly after that and he was a completely different infant. No more intense crying, back arching, spitting up, general fussiness. Imagine that.
I’m sure there’s a large divide in who supports no medication in newborns and those who appreciate an honest evaluation but unless you are with that baby 24/7 like we are and see the suffering, don’t give me your opinion.
The whole part of this slightly off base story is that if we were 5th time parents waltzing in there like “yo, this kid has mad acid reflux” they wouldn’t doubt what we’re saying nearly as quick as when you’re someone with no priors trying to act like you know babies or something. Stop discriminating. Listen to parents no matter what child edition they’re on.
Scenarios mirroring that above happened to us more times than I can count and it’s only been a year. I can’t go in a store without commentary regarding what he’s eating, what he’s drinking, what milestones is he hitting, where’s he sleeping, how much is he sleeping? I swear random middle age adults in public do a more thorough investigation to the current state of my child than the child’s doctor.
I’d like to play devil’s advocate and say “oh, they’re just trying to make conversation.” Buuuuuut, we know. Every overbearing random person on the block is waiting for their opportunity to explain how you could be parenting differently. You don’t want to discuss the things I’m doing right in my parenting, you’d just like to discuss what I could be doing differently. No thanks.
What has been almost worse than the generic first time mom discrimination from people like doctors, grandmas at the grocery store, and random dude at WalMart is the discrimination from some moms older than you. Because you did not choose to wait to have your children until you’re 39 and 3/4, you’re unqualified to graduate to the real mom level. Shoot, you could be 38 and a half and they’d still tell you, “just wait.”
Don’t tell me after a few kids I’ll be more relaxed on car seat safety, safe sleeping, proper nutrition, whatever. I get everyone has their moments but I can assure you, one child or five I’ll always care equally about whether or not I’m making the most educated decisions regarding their health and safety. So stop.
If you’re a first time mom, or a soon to be first time mom.. You’ve got this.
Pregnancy sucks. It’s full of worries, tests, scans, stress, googling weird symptoms, but it ends. Somehow when it’s over you don’t even remember the 14 hours you spent overnight googling what color your toilet paper was or what that weird cramp in your stomach that was likely just a foot attempting to make its way out of your belly button.. It all falls into an archive.
Childbirth sucks. I am fully confident in my skepticism at each person who praises the magic, wholesome, happy-go-luckiness of childbirth. It sucks. Everything hurts, things you didn’t even know you had appear and they hurt. The fresh hell that is nipple pain from attempting to breastfeed also sucks.
But, you get to go home with this little potato that is half of you.. and they totally seem like a stranger at first.
I didn’t feel this immediate overwhelming sense of love and happiness the moment I gave birth like everyone liked to tell me I would or how they did. It hurt, my head was in a fog, and I definitely had never met this little baby before. I absolutely love him, but we literally just met. So, don’t feel bad if you don’t get this weird rush of chemical reactions the moment your eyes meet your baby. It’ll come with time. You’re not weird.
Newborns are possibly the easiest of all of the levels of baby. In the moment it’s incredibly easy to be like “yep, nope, this is hard” and in the moment it totally is. But, wait until the next level.
Newborns are on an agenda, eat, sleep, diaper, repeat.
One year olds are stuck in this post-baby/pre-toddler era where they are nothing but confused little beings with way too much developing happening way too fast. One day they’re little potatoes and the next they’re rolling across the living room, then crawling, walking, breaking stuff, harassing the cat, teething, vaccines, colds, socializing, all of the little variables that seem so far in the future when you’re looking at your newborn but are really right around the corner.
Enjoy that newborn and those cuddles.
They will eventually sleep through the night.
They will eventually feed themselves and not want your help at all.
Just love your baby, feed your baby (seriously, formula is okay), keep it warm, give it some safe sleep, and enjoy your life.