Ever been on a Pregnancy Message Board? Show of hands. Yeah, me too. Chances are, if you are currently pregnant, you raised your hand eagerly and diligently, ready to tell the class about all the things you discuss there. Chances are if you've already had your baby, you are laughing kindly at past you (and, perhaps, at the women you have kept in touch with along the way) and everything you said, thought, and did during that time.
Being pregnant, especially for first-time parents, is such a crazy and uncertain time. All the reading in the world can only sort of prepare you for the myriad challenges and joys coming your way. Get a whole bunch of pregnant women in one place and the concerns, fears, unknowing, and concepts of "what it will be like" are amplified. But whether or not you partook of the drama-filled echo chambers of online pregnancy boards or not, you still no doubt spent a lot of your time contemplating issues about your Future Baby and Future You that, you would find out later, was a completely misspent allocation of mental resources.
Now that I've had my kids, when I talk to pregnant people, I am very wary of balancing my "been there done that" experience with the knowledge that many a woman-with-child is very sensitive to the idea that her concerns or opinions are being dismissed by a fellow mom. But there are some things I feel I must assure readers in general, if not specific pregnant individuals, are so not the big deal you are making them out to be.
Your Baby's Room
Whether you're worried that you're in a lease that keeps you in a one-bedroom apartment until your baby is 6 months old, or you're fretting over the exact shade of green to paint your bespoke, eco-conscious, perfectly appointed, whimsical nursery, chances are, you are putting way more thought into this than you have to and that you will look back on even a moderate level of stress with a chuckle. Because the fact that you bookmarked 29 sets of bedding before choosing The One after months of tearful deliberation? Child, your baby is going to have multiple poop accidents on those. And odds are, you'll wind up taking out half of the items that came with the bedding when you learn that crib bedding safety guidelines are basically like, "Stick them in a crib with a fitted sheet. Eventually you can give them a thin blanket, sometime before college." Also, if you're anything like me your kid is going to be coming into bed with you every night for months, so their own room (or lack thereof) is kind of a non-issue.
Anything On Your Pinterest Board
In fact, anything you want to
Your Baby's Clothes
You worry that you only have 20 newborn onesies and only 45 three-month onesies; You worry there's too much blue — or not enough blue; You worry about your child's lack of formal attire; You debate how many shoes a child needs before they learn how to walk. (Answer: none, for real.) You worry about whether you have seasonally appropriate items. How many layers does a baby need to wear in the summer? One? Two? 109? You go legitimately insane buying froo-froo dress you come across because look at how tiny they are I can't even stand it! But when it comes down to it, here's the deal: Your child is going to get bodily fluids on absolutely everything and stain a good chunk of your favorite items, but that's OK, because they outgrew those things in about two wears anyway.
How Cute Your Diaper Bag Is
Your diaper bag is where diapers go. Sometimes dirty ones. Diapers and, as your child gets older, a metric ton of stale Cheerios that you have to carry around with you at all times. I liked to think before I had kids that my diaper bag would always be a potent symbol that though I had children, I remained stylish and put together. And my diaper bag is cute! But deep in my heart, I know that deep inside of it lies a pee-pee soaked diaper that I didn't have anywhere to throw out and then I completely forgot to throw it out by the time I did get to a garbage can.
Eventually, your child's toys may become an area of concern or interest. My kids are 4 years and 21 months and I love finding and buying them toys. But before I had them, I was already concerned with the state of their toy box. Would they have the proper toys to stimulate their intellectual, spiritual, and social development? Were they made with organic fibers? Was I going to screw up my son by giving him a little toy tool set because it was subconsciously gendering his play? Then my first child was born and he could not have been less interested in interacting with objects until he was about 4 months old. And then when he did want to play with something it was usually, like, a box or a dish towel. So don't sweat the toys just yet. They won't be actually interested for a while.
The Precise Contents Of Your Hospital Bag
OMG if I had a dollar for every panicked Mommy Board post I read (or wrote) about what everyone was bringing in their hospital bag, I could send my kids to that really fancy daycare the next town over where they have horseback riding lessons and a personal chef. I honestly do not know a single person who wound up using even half the stuff they packed in that first hospital bag. A good friend of mine looks back in disbelieving giggles when she recounts how she packed her thesis because "I'll have some downtime to work on it." The hospital provides most of what you'll actually need and when it comes to luxuries, you will likely have neither the time nor the inclination to take advantage of them. So go ahead and leave the Lush bath bombs and 40 different kinds of lotions at home. You will not use them.
Pooping During Delivery
This is a picture of me shortly after giving birth. On my chest is my 9 pound, 2 ounce daughter born via VBAC after 9 hours of intense labor. This is the face of a tired woman. Of a proud woman. Of a woman who does not give a crap that she just took a crap in front of her midwife, husband, and two nurses. In fact, as I felt it happen, my exact words were, "Oh thank God! That helps some of the pressure." This is more personal than I normally get with my birth story, but I feel like the possibility of public pooping is one of the Top 5 concerns I hear about when people talk about birth fears and I want to assure you in as personal and memorable a way as possible that you will. not. care. You won't. Besides, there's a good chance that as you are pooping, there's a head sticking out of your vagine. What do you think is going to be the bigger focus?
Precise, Unyielding Plans For Baby
Oh, we have so many Infallible And Important Ideas for our babies before they're born, starting with exactly how they're going to be born. From 15-page birth plans that specify which Beyoncé track must be played off your "Labor and Delivery" playlist as you begin crowning, to the set-in-stone decisions you've made about how much screen time your child will have between birth and 3rd grade (at which point you'll re-assess...because you're not crazy). You did these things with the best intentions, out of love. You read up on so much and made so many plans because you thought doing so would prepare you. But I think we all know what happens when we make plans at this point, right?
Whether Your Baby Will Be Cute
Everyone secretly worries their baby will be ugly. We can't help it, and ultimately it's really not important to us and we know that... But we still hope for a cute one. But babies only ever come in four basic varieties:
- Standard model babies, which make up about 80% of newborns
- "One weird thing" babies, which are standard models but with one weird thing, like a full head of hair or particularly chubby cheeks, and they account for about 15% of new kiddos.
- Ugly babies, because it happens
- Transcendently gorgeous babies, which are super rare
Everyone thinks they have a #4. And that is as it should be, because to you, they are.
How Soon You Will Be Able To Get Back To Doing [Thing You Love Doing That Makes You Feel Like You]
You spend weeks researching how soon you'll be able to get back to exercise, sex, dancing, swimming, skydiving, or whatever other hobby you loved and adored before you ever got pregnant. But chances are, the exact restart time won't matter as much to you once your little one is here. That's not to say once we have babies we stop being passionate about other things or that we're not eager to get back to doing what we love after we pop out a kid, but priorities shift around and it's likely that you'll hit the date your care provider gave you and you'll be like, "Oh, wow! Already. OK, cool. Ummm... can't do it right now, but it's nice to know I can."
Being A Super-Parent
For sure, the most super of parents are those among us who learn that trying to be a super-parent is futile. (Whoa. Deep, right?) Most of us learn pretty quickly that our lives our different and we have to reorganize all the thoughts and ideas and hopes we had before we actually had any clue what having a baby would mean for those plans with our new reality.