As a first time mom, I learn something new every day. Over the past 16 months, I’ve been experiencing this trend and phenomenon with having a baby that I never anticipated pre-pregnancy: when a child is involved, something happens in people that give them the amazing ability to pitch and defend their unsolicited point of view -usually accompanied by references to evidence and research- without any regard for the mother’s choices, beliefs and existing knowledge. It really is quite interesting to watch, because people just assume you know nothing and try to school you with all these facts and reasons that you made your mind up about ages ago.
The first time I noticed it is when I started telling people I was pregnant. I was about 5 weeks along when I found out, and I was freaking ecstatic. Dan and I were trying to conceive, so when we actually did, it was a thrilling achievement for both of us. An achievement that caused us to celebrate and break the news and announce -as you do- with a proud, life-changing event.
It wasn’t too long before someone piped up and said “you shouldn’t tell anyone you’re pregnant before 12 weeks, because you could miscarry.”
Well, shit. Who invited you to the party, Mr. RuinMyMoment McDoucherson?
And to top it all off, they continued with:
“1 in 4 pregnancies end up in miscarriage.”
…Why are you still talking? Why you gotta bring doom and gloom into the sandbox?
Apparently, after 12 weeks is the “safe zone” where the fetus is more likely to survive. So: don’t share the happy news now in case something bad happens later. Where is this logic coming from, and who is it protecting? As if I would not be in emotional despair after a loss before the 12 week milestone and be able to keep that a secret too.
That’s like saying “don’t announce your wedding engagement until 3 months after the proposal, because you might break up.” But why stop there? The divorce rate is something like 50%, right? Better wait until your 25th anniversary to announce. It’ll save me quite a bit of money, time, and space in my house for the bonbonniere I won’t know what to do with. Then we’ll know who stood the test of time! Some women tragically give birth to stillborns. Should I just wait until we both get discharged from the hospital? At that rate, I may as well not announce my pregnancy until the baby is 1 year old, at least we’ll have gotten past that risky SIDS window. I will announce when I please, because I am a glass-half-full kinda lady.
The next big debate was whether or not we were going to find out the gender at our 20 week ultrasound. Yes, we wanted to, and did (after quite a roundabout deal, might I add). “Oh but you should keep it a surprise, it’s so exciting to find out at the birth!”
I’m sure it is, stranger-with-no-vested-interest-in-my-child. But shopping is also exciting for me, and even more so when I know whether to head straight for the tiny baby dresses section or the tiny baby tuxedos section. A pregnant woman can only rely so much on nub theory, the shape and height of her baby bump, that ancient Chinese chart thing, tea leaves, compass needles, hopes, and dreams before succumbing to the sheer torment of good ol’ curiosity. I applaud those on Team Green with the willpower to not go snooping under the tree before December 25th. I, on the other hand, am a troublemaker, and will shake a box or two.
After that, for those who did decide to find out the gender, came the debate of whether or not they’d be circumcising their sons. Obviously that wasn’t an issue for me because I was carrying a girl, but people were having heated online arguments about why they were for or against. But not just why they were for or against *their* own son – it would be why YOU should or shouldn’t circumcise YOUR son.
I’m talking heated, tear-inducing, hair-flipping, finger-pointing fights between people who have never even met. A healthy debate is fine and dandy, but this spawned a whole new level of blame and shame on something that has literally ZERO effect on anyone other than the parents and their child. The last time I saw a bunch of women fighting about a penis was on Maury Povich, and even then, they at least had some kind of relevant connection to the guy. It was all interesting to read at first, but it almost always just ends up getting ugly to the point where on some forums, it’s not even a topic up for discussion. Such a shame really, because there are eloquent, educated people out there who are able to offer insight to the parents who are genuinely undecided and looking for some advice. Eventually, I just started skipping the conversations altogether, not only because it’s none of my business but because I literally do not care. I don’t even have a boy! Get outta here with your wee-wee bashing.
Then came the debates about inducing vs waiting. C-section vs. natural birth. Drugs vs. no drugs. Home birth vs. hospital birth. Placenta encapsulation. Cord blood collection. Breastfeeding vs. formula. Co-sleeping. Solids before 6 months. Rice cereal. Babywearing. Sleep training. Extended rear-facing. And on, and on, and on. That list isn’t even done. Something new pops up with every new stage of life, and I find myself choosing between one way or the other. Sometimes my choices are instinctual, and sometimes I have to do a little bit of research to find out more. Within that research it’s almost guaranteed to come across a debate gone wrong, someone took something too personally, and someone is flinging sanctimonious poop somewhere.
I get that people are passionate and defensive about their position on things. It’s just honestly what we believe, which is why we feel so strongly about our choices. Take English, for instance. You’re reading this, so it’s safe to assume you can read and probably even speak English. If English is your first language, do you have an accent? Most people will say that they don’t. I’m Canadian, so to me: Australians have an accent, Americans have one, New Zealanders have one, and English people have one. We all sound completely different, even though we’re all speaking the same language. Take those same people, and each of them will tell me that I have the accent, without question. We can argue about it till our hair turns grey, but no one’s gonna change their mind and say “Yes, I say my words incorrectly,” because they simply won’t believe it.
In the end, it doesn’t matter who has the accent. Even if I were able to convince one of them to admit to it, doesn’t mean he’ll go ahead and start speaking like me. It proves nothing and even if he did switch, it would serve me no purpose other than to stroke my ego and applaud my argumentative skills. The same goes for every parenting style and choice you’ve made, and will make, from this point onward.
A stranger will tell you to give your infant a haircut because it’s too long (or even too short). Some blog will tell you not to use a bottle because of 39825984 different reasons.
Your best friend will tell you to sleep with your baby in your room instead of the nursery you’ve created for them.
Your sister will tell you that you shouldn’t babywear because they’ll never learn how to walk.
Your mother-in-law will tell you that you shouldn’t breastfeed because it’s not natural.
Your mother will tell you that that’s not the way she did it with you.
Someone, somewhere, will tell you that you’re parenting your child the wrong way.
That’s when you smile, nod, say: “Thank you for your opinion,” and then hand them one of these bad boys:
Also read: Why I’m Not Letting My Baby Cry It Out