Advice. The bane of every pregnant woman's existence. (I know new dads get it too, but they can hide under the radar better. The big belly thing just gives you away.)
I was prepared for getting lots of advice, because I've heard from numerous friends that this happens during pregnancy. It's a given: you get pregnant, you probably get nauseous, you'll crave something weird, and you'll get more advice than you ever wanted in your life. And they were right. I assumed I would get an extra dose of it, being in a relatively public profession. And I was right.
The people who surprise me the most with advice are the new moms. The other night, we were having dinner at my parents' house and my brother and sister-in-law were there - the parents of the seven-week old. (Who is still unbelievably adorable, by the way.) My sister-in-law - who, admittedly, has always tended a little toward the arrogant in terms of knowing better - started talking about a co-worker who is 34 weeks pregnant. "She was so excited about being at the end of her pregnancy," said my sister-in-law, "and I just wanted to tell her, 'this could go on even longer than you think, so don't get so excited.' I mean, she acts like the baby is coming right on the due date, and she just has no idea what she's talking about."
Okay. Said sister-in-law did, in fact, deliver one week late. But come on. Just a few months ago, that was you, 34 weeks pregnant, and saying - and yes, I do remember this - pretty much exactly the same freaking thing. Don't you remember getting into the single-digit weeks-left-to-wait phase? It's exciting! Because it is getting closer. It finally feels like you're getting to the end. Your co-worker is not an idiot. (And neither am I, given that I had just been talking about being glad we were getting closer to the end.) News flash: that due date is all you have to work with. I don't know a single pregnant woman who thinks her baby will magically appear on that date, but it's the date you've got. So you get excited about it. Of course.
Can you tell that I was a little irritated? I blame the hormones.
I've gotten advice about breastfeeding (do it, but it's hard, it's unbelievably hard, or, it's easy, it's great, no problems); about daycare (get a nanny, do home childcare, never do anything but a childcare center); about visitors (don't let anyone near you for the first week, welcome anybody to your house anytime, you'll need the help); about carseats (get this one, it rocks back and forth, that other one (for which I am registered) is pointless); about birth (natural childbirth is the only way to go, get an epidural, it's the best thing since sliced bread); about being ready (you never feel ready, give it up, you can definitely be prepared, read all the books); about nursing bras (don't spend too much, just get it at Tar.get, spend a ton, it will totally be worth it); and about weight gain (wow, you're huge; wow, you're tiny!)
Okay, that last one is filed less under 'advice' and more under 'totally inappropriate commentary' which, by the way, is the other thing you get a ton of during pregnancy.
Keep it to yourself.
But, in a twist of irony, I do have some advice for the general public, new moms included, on speaking with and to pregnant women. Here it is:
1. Comments on the pregnant woman's size (big, small, waddling, tiny, any similarities to large mammals or houses) is not appropriate. Ever. Even if you think you are offering a compliment. Just shut up.
2. Pregnant women do not want to hear about your birth experience. Bad stories freak us out. Good stories feel like you're rubbing it in.
3. Nauseous pregnant women do not want to hear about how you never had morning sickness during your pregnancy. Nor do they want to hear about how your morning sickness lasted all 40 weeks. SHUT. UP.
4. Remember that your 'one piece of advice' is probably joining 55 other people's 'one piece of advice' for the day. Keep it to yourself.
5. Stop staring at the stomach. My eyes still work.
6. DO. NOT. TOUCH.
7. Yes, we sit down a lot toward the end. You did too. No need to mention it every fifteen seconds.
8. Saying, "you look tired," is not helpful. What it sounds like is, "you look like crap."
9. We are still capable of discussing things other than childbirth, pregnancy, and babies. Like, for example, national politics, the war in Afghanistan, hurricanes, that movie you saw the other night - really. Anything. Anything other than being pregnant. We would welcome a change of subject. Really.
10. Yes, we are kind of cranky. It's partly the hormones. And also, we are kind of scared. But we don't like to admit it. Go gently.
Of course, you're welcome to take my advice and...
well, you get it.