You know what sucks? (Pregnancy edition)

  1. … that when pregnancy or parenting or kids are involved, you have to qualify everything with, “Of course, I know my plans might change (because I don’t know anything everyone else who is already a parent knows)….” Look, my plans might change, sure. All plans might change. And I might learn a few things or feel differently and be surprised. That’s true in life. But for heaven’s sakes, can we please stop rolling our eyes at those cute little plans those expecting first-timers who don’t know anything are so adorable in thinking they can keep? I can’t think of a single situation where someone making plans doesn’t run the risk of (or own the right to) change their minds, be surprised, adjust as needed, or just say eff it, we’re going another direction, and they don’t have to constantly mitigate their words to appease the more knowledgeable masses.  Actually, let’s do this: you can roll your eyes if you want (I can’t control that, after all) but I’m ceasing to acknowledge this implied requirement anymore.
  2. … registries. I know, I know, lots of people love them, both givers and receivers, but the arm-twisting that is implied by a list of stuff you’d like people to buy you irks me. Did we get gifts when people heard we were knocked up? Yes! Did a few diligent souls find the Amazon registry I was using to keep track of my own preferences? Yup! Does it annoy the crap out of me when people b*tch that someone had the gall to give them a gift that wasn’t on their registry? Absolutely. I’m anti-registry and not just because I’m cheap – because I enjoy buying gifts and don’t like to be handed a list. I’d rather give someone a fabulous bottle of wine and directions to open it when they just can’t. go. another. minute. (in life, in love, in parenthood) than buy some thing off some list they put together. My money, my prerogative.
  3. … the question, “Is everything on schedule?” I hate this question in general (I’m a software engineering release manager – assume I’ll tell you if it’s not since I’m not incompetent) but especially when it pertains to this kid I’m carrying and is asked by well-meaning male coworkers. I get that they’re trying to be caring and relate, but it’s awkward. It’s also a stupid question. How am I supposed to know if we’re on schedule? It’s all up to a fetus, people, so no, no idea. Also, the only way I could even profess to have any idea would be to have internal exams telling me how effaced/ dilated I am (and I don’t, owing to the hippie birthing center I’m using that I’m definitely not going to discuss with you), and you fathers-of-multiple-children know this, so let’s not bring up anything pertaining to my hoo-ha, mkay?  {Yes, I work in a business very supportive of women in general, even pregnant women, so I get that this attempt at relating is better than scorn, but I’m nine months pregnant and reserve the right to complain.}
  4. … feeling like an incubator. I have officially lost my identity at this point, being instead the awkwardly stretched human being carrying the invader. Yes, I love the invader, but invader he still is. I’m not a person, I’m a Pregnant Woman, one requiring of soft (or horrified or uncomfortable) looks and clearly expected to be uncomfortable and grumpy and swollen and buying that damned ice cream cone. Yes, I feel like a cliche buying ice cream. I am a cliche buying ice cream. But I liked ice cream before I was pregnant and it’s 100 degrees, so give me a break. I’m neither giddy with expectation nor overwhelmed with impatience. The nursery is mostly finished but in our typical style, we’ll have a to-do list forever. It’s not cute or matchy matchy. We’re still us, I promise. (See #1 about why I’m not going to add the caveat that of course things will change and we have no idea how and soon we won’t recognize ourselves.)
  5. … that people call to make sure we haven’t had the kid and not called them. And that these people are closely related to us. Very closely. As in, immediate family. You’ll hear from us, I promise, if not in a play-by-play fashion, at various critical milestones, and if not that, then at least when THE critical milestone happens. Really. We won’t forget to call the grandparents and tell them. Promise.
  6. … that oddly needy look people get (especially those closest to you, relatively speaking) when they want to know details about everything. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m sure I’ll be happy to talk about the kid once he’s here; hell, I’ll hand over the kid once he’s here. For now, though, it’s my body and I’m doing great, thanks, and those are all the details you’re going to get. Stop checking out my body and commenting on it, unless you’re going to say, “You look great!” and leave it at that. Soon enough there will be a real kid you can gush over, but I’m a real adult and I’m not a fan. It makes me do that thing where I don’t make eye contact and stick to superficial conversation because you’re stressing me out. Oh, and unless asked, let’s not talk about you giving birth. Please.
  7. … that already I’m worried about regret and feeling guilty. Two things changed recently that might affect my back-to-work plans: 1) my boss got a temporary promotion to GM and 2) I have a week less of accrued vacation than I thought. My team is great but needs support from someone willing to play Bad Cop and my boss won’t have the time to cover, so I’m debating falling off the planet for just a month and then doing weekly (or twice-weekly) team calls to talk through their challenges with them. I don’t want to return to a bunch of late projects. Also, my boss got temporarily promoted and it might become permanent. I’m not an idiot; I could be in line for his job, but not if I’m completely away during the temporary period. Also, I like getting paid and don’t want to take unpaid time off. The stress of not getting a paycheck — even though we could cover that paycheck out of savings — is too high a cost for me. Will that change? MAYBE. (See #1.) But right now, I feel better about a slightly shorter leave and more gradual re-entry than sticking to my original plan and wondering/ worrying/ stressing/ missing out. Oh, yea, and I’ll have to travel for work five, maybe six times within my first six months back at work. Is this making me feel bad already? Yes. Is it something I need to do, will likely enjoy, and necessary for my career? Yes, absolutely. (Thank goodness my husband is bad *ss and keeps reminding me of this.)
  8. … Mommy Judgment. You guys all kick *ass and are very supportive and I hope you feel that I am too. I think we each make our own decisions about our lives and families and selves and nobody can make a better decision for you, right now, than you. Only you live your life. So when can I stop feeling like I should add caveats or disclaimers when I want to say, “People, you would not believe how relieved I am to have found a daycare that I’m actually excited about taking my kid to! I was wondering if I needed to reassess the option of having someone come into our home but this is so much better for us! Socialization! Curriculum! People who love being around babies all day!”? Wait, I can answer that: now, I suppose. From heretofore I am ceasing to acknowledge Mommy Judgment. If I accidentally say something stupidly narrow-minded or obtuse, call me on it.

Whew, that feels better.

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11 thoughts on “You know what sucks? (Pregnancy edition)

  1. HERE, HERE! The registry thing drives me crazy. How DARE I spend my time and hard-earned money picking out a meaningful, delightful gift for you that I think you will like and appreciate?! The nerve.

  2. Oh, I hated feeling like an incubator (and everyone reacting to me as if I was one and had lost my identity). I guess it’s good practice for losing your identity after you have the baby though (since then you are just the baby’s minder to so many people)!

    I agree with you that it’s so important to trust yourself and do whatever’s best for your family (#7 and 8). But you might not want to make any firm commitments about work, etc. until after the baby comes. This isn’t because of #1, but because what is possible will depend largely on your child: their personality, neediness level, etc.

    I have an easy-going baby who doesn’t cry much and is very adaptable to change, so if I had wanted to do twice weekly meetings (or even work from home) after the first few weeks, it would have been totally fine. But my sister in law’s first baby had colic and screamed for hours every day until he was 3 or 4 months old (they went to the ER three times for the screaming, it was that bad) and woke up every 30 minutes for months. So she had to quit her job (being in an unsupportive industry and with a husband with a non-flexible career). He had some minor health issues but mostly is just a sensitive, intense person.

    I am sure your baby won’t be that bad (my nephew was pretty extreme), but the point is that what is possible depends on your baby’s personality, which you’ll have a sense of after the first week or two. Trying to shoehorn your family into previously made arrangements that don’t fit well seems like it would be really stressful.

    Also, babies cry the very most at 6 weeks and then it tapers off (they start sleeping better then too). Can you wait until then to jump back into the work world?

    • @Grace, Yes, all good points. Since I’m the only one on the “I can make plans if I want” bandwagon, everyone else at work just keeps telling me to call after a month to check in. Okay, I can do that. I’m fairly certain I won’t suddenly be willing to forego paychecks to stay home another four weeks (even if I want to, we’re a single-paycheck family right now), but we’ll see. 🙂

  3. Ok, so you sound pretty much like I think I will sound when I am pregnant. (Not that I would know, since I’m not pregnant and not a parent–hah, see what I did there? lol.)

  4. Oh man, I imagine I’ll be just like you when I’m pregnant. I got annoyed for you when I was reading this, and I’ve never dealt with any of that stuff! People seem to get SO nosy when it comes to babies!

  5. Uh oh. Can you SEE my oddly needy expression through my computer when I come to read your thoughts every day???

    Oh but really. Number 1 would be the most annoying thing, I can imagine – after all, what adjusted and capable adult really wants to be told that they don’t know what they’re talking about all the time? No one.

    • @beka, Ha! Not you, that was more about my MIL. Like bc it’s her grandkid inside me, I should suddenly share all these details about my body. And really? Got none to share! Boobs are getting bigger, belly’s getting bigger… not gonna talk about discharge or dilation (even if I knew), so why ask?

  6. Yeah, number 5 was maybe the worst part of my pregnancy (which I realize makes me incredibly lucky). I had a non-hippie ob, so knew I was 4 cm dilated at maybe 38 weeks? I then made the first-timer mistake of telling my mom & in-laws this info when they asked how my appointment went. So for the next 2 weeks I was constantly being asked by everyone whether I’d had the baby yet. So while I was completely fine staying pregnant until the baby was ready, on some level I felt like I was doing something wrong or disappointing people. No good! Hopefully your people will back off, since you’ve still got some time to go (and since you’re clearly not going to secretly have the baby in a cave somewhere. No offense to any who choose the secret cave birthing route, of course 😉 )

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