When people learn that I am pregnant – they cannot wait to share their wisdom. I have never received so much advice in my life. Everything from sleep training to feeding becomes fair game for friends, colleagues and even strangers. I do appreciate the intent – people know that having your first child can be challenging and they want to help. It’s just been a little comical to experience how pregnancy opens the door to personal questions and unsolicited guidance.
Here are some examples of the questions and conversations I’ve entertained since people have learned that I’m expecting:
-A senior manager at the office asked me whether the pregnancy was an accident.
-A stranger seated next to me at a formal dinner event told me that his daughter slept in bed with him and his wife until she was nine years old. This prevented them from having a third child. He told me to avoid having the kid in my room at all costs.
-Someone I barely know asked me whether I planned to have a C-section and extolled the benefits of vaginal birth. Yes, he said “vaginal.”
-Numerous people (who are not close friends) have asked me whether I plan to breastfeed.
-Everyone wants to know if we’ve chosen a name and then urges me to keep it a secret until after the baby is born.
-I have received dire warnings that I won’t sleep more than three hours in a row for months and should try to log as many hours as possible in bed before the baby is born.
I have heard all of the following predictions:
-Maternity leave is a magical time – I will never want to go back to work.
-Being home with a baby is mind-numbing and exhausting. I will be anxious to get back to the office after a few weeks.
-Life as I know it will be over.
-Parenthood is really fun.
Why? I’ve wondered. What is it about parenthood that makes everyone feel the need to share their perspective? From what I can gather, having and raising children is a life-altering experience. The child becomes the focus of your life, and for many years parenthood shifts the emphasis off of you. The child came from you – and even if s/he is not your biological offspring – is a reflection of you. So, talking about your little darling is really sharing about yourself. And, as you probably know, most people LOVE to talk about themselves.
Other women have warned me that as my belly grows, people may feel tempted to touch it and will make increasing numbers of comments. I am preparing myself for the months ahead… awkward elevator moments, strange interactions on mass transportation, and collective wisdom from the general public. So, if you are pregnant and beginning to show – get ready to hear some advice!