Dear Pregnant Friend,
Thanks for sending the link to your baby registry. I can’t afford anything on it so I’m sending this instead: a list of things I promise never to say to you, both before and after the baby is born.
1. You think you’re tired now? Just wait!
It’s true. The tiredness that comes with being pregnant is nothing compared to the exhaustion you’ll feel after staying awake for five consecutive nights with a baby screaming into your face and alternately pooping all over himself and nursing on your cracked and bleeding nipples. But you don’t know that. Right now you feel more tired than you’ve ever felt in your entire life. Yes, it’s possible to be more tired than you are right now. Much, much, much more tired. But what’s the point of saying so? It’s not going to change how you feel now and you’re probably not going to believe me anyway. We’ll discuss how funny it was that you thought you were tired when you were pregnant in, say, six months over coffee. I’ll put it in my calendar now.
2. Nothing can prepare you for motherhood.
Again, this is true, but, since nothing can prepare you, me telling you this will only serve to annoy you. You might even throw some parenting books at me or bring up the couple hundred dollars you spent on the childbirth class you took. You’re still not prepared. But you think you are. So why would I shake your confidence? I mean, yes, I really, really, really want to tell you how unprepared you are. Especially when you say things like, “I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ll just put him on a schedule right away and we’ll all get the sleep we need.” Because I thought stuff like that too. But now I’ve been places. And I’ve seen things. And I want to tell you about them. Mostly to come across as a veteran mom who has her act together. Which would really boost my confidence a ton. But I won’t tell you. Because the only way to find out how unprepared you are is to have the baby. (I also promise not to remind you of all the crazy things you said before you had the baby. But I do reserve the right to laugh about them if you bring them up first.)
3. You’re not going to need . . . (fill-in-the-blank baby care object).
Your house is overflowing with baby gadgets and gizmos that guarantee to do all kinds of things to help your baby do all kinds of things I didn’t even know babies are supposed to do. I could tell you that your baby isn’t going to be ready to sit in a high chair (even one that plays four Mozart compositions with full orchestra) for another six months. Or that you’re going to use that baby food maker once and then run right out and buy a bunch of jars of Gerber. But what’s the point? Those things are your security blanket right now. Just like one of the 20 muslin receiving blankets you bought might end up being your baby’s security blanket. Maybe. You feel ready and prepared because you think you have all the right equipment. It won’t be the end of the world when you decide to donate it all to Goodwill. Also, I have no way of knowing which one of these crazy contraptions will be the one thing you end up swearing by and recommending to all your friends. Who won’t use it because it’ll be a different one for them. But still.
4. It gets better.
This one is for after the baby is born. It does get better. It really, really does. But it takes months. Sometimes even a year. And when you’re sitting there with spit-up all down your front and scratch marks all down your cheek and poop in your hair, a year sounds like a lifetime. What good is it to you that it will get better at some indeterminate time in the future? You need it to be better now! Well, I can’t make it better now but I can try not to rub in your face the fact that none of that horrible stuff is happening to me now that my child is no longer a newborn. I promise, instead, to confirm that, yes, it really does suck and then take the baby so you can go shower. I might even change his diaper while you’re in there, if you’re lucky.
5. Why don’t you try . . . (fill-in-the-blank remedy for fill-in-the-blank problem your baby is having).
So, your baby is screaming uncontrollably for no apparent reason? Yeah, my baby did that too. I could tell you what worked for me. But it won’t work for you. Because all babies are different and all moms are different. If you try it and it doesn’t work you’ll feel like a failure because it worked for my baby so you must be doing it wrong. So instead, I’ll just listen to you tell me about how frustrating it is and catch about every third word over the sound of your baby’s wails. Of course, if you ask for my advice, I’ll tell you what worked for me. If I can remember. It all feels like such a long time ago. Because it gets better. But never mind that.
6. You think that’s bad? I had it so much worse.
I mean, I did. Really, honestly, you think that’s a lot of spit-up? You haven’t been spit up on until each cup of your bra and your belly button are filled with it. But that doesn’t make what you’re experiencing any better. I mean, being spit up on sucks, no matter the actual volume of spit-up. My telling you it was worse for me makes it seem like I think you’re just complaining. And then you feel bad for not being able to handle this better. And then your hormones kick in and you cry and I didn’t bring any tissues. So I’ll commiserate and give you a hug and offer to hold the baby. Just so long as he’s done spitting up.
Well, I think that’s it. Sorry I didn’t get you an actual gift. And sorry if I end up accidentally saying one of these things. The truth is, when you’ve been a mom for a while and your friend gets pregnant, these things are really, really hard not to say for some reason. But I’ll do my best. I promise.
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