Today in statements you definitely already knew, I had a baby a little over seven months ago. The experience taught me so much about pretty much everything — myself, my marriage, my friendships, and what was important to me.
It also taught me that there are a lot of clueless (and even downright rude) people out there.
Also, people are kind of cliche — they all like to tell pregnant women the same things over and over.
I’m actually a pretty hard person to offend, so while I wouldn’t say anything anyone said to me actually ruined my day or anything, there are a few things that actually could ruin someone’s day or at the very least stuck in my craw long enough that I’m still thinking about it seven months later.
So in the spirit of spreading the wisdom, I’m sharing the four things that I find it really annoying for people to say to pregnant women/new moms — and what we should all start saying instead.
#1: You should sleep when the baby sleeps.
A) DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO YOU’RE NOT MY DAD. B) Oh, yeah? Should I? So I should not only be able to control my mind and body enough to drop off at will, but I should also just give up on accomplishing anything for the first three months of my child’s life? I don’t know about you, but if I truly slept every time Vivian slept, I would have literally been living in squalor. My husband works full-time, and my mom was only with us for the first couple of weeks. Should we just not have clean clothes or washed dishes or food stuffs? It’s not practical to sleep when the baby sleeps (and your body is so out of wack anyway, you might not be able to), and all it does when people tell you this is reinforce that there is yet another thing you are doing wrong. Not. Helpful.
Instead, say: I’m free tomorrow from two to five, so I’m bringing over dinner. And maybe I can throw in a load of laundry for you if you have any?
(SHE WILL ALWAYS HAVE LAUNDRY. Plus, she might actually take a cat nap if she knows you’re holding the baby and that dinner is taken care of.) Basically, don’t be the person that says, “Let me know if I can help!” Be the person that says, “Here is what I’m doing to help. I gotchu.”)
#2: You’ll never get your body back.
I had about the same reaction to this as I did when I was getting my engagement ring sized and literally three people told me that I shouldn’t size it down to fit because I would definitely gain a bunch of weight after I got married and/or had a baby. So apparently the assumptions start early.
But you know what? I didn’t. And, as someone who has struggled with weight issues in the past, I found statements like this to be almost equivalent to some kind of terminal diagnosis. (I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but weight issues mess with your sense of reason, yo.)
The point is, who are you helping when you say things like this? I truly think most people who said this kind of thing to me meant it in a “don’t beat yourself up if you can’t lose the baby weight — it happens to everyone!” kind of way, but it always, always, always sounds a little bit…mean. Well, maybe not mean, but at the very least like a subtle dig.
And you know what? My body did come back — I actually think my tummy looks better than it did before because I burned up a lot of belly fat whilst pregnant. That isn’t intended to be some loosely veiled humble brag. I’m just saying, you don’t really know how your body will react to pregnancy, so don’t let people stress you out. Pregnant women should take care of their babies and take care of themselves. That’s really all that matters.
Instead, say: You look amazing!
(Because she probably does look amazing because pregnant women are gorgeous. And because there has never been a pregnant woman who didn’t want to hear this.)
#3 Hoo-boy, are you in for it!
You know that guy in your office who loves to shoot down ideas during brainstorms by saying things like, “That won’t work” without providing any helpful alternatives? Something about #3 just makes me think of that guy.
Granted, no one actually said the words, “Hoo-boy, are you in for it!” to my when I was pregnant, but I like to think of this for a placeholder for every stereotypical negative remark people make to pregnant women. “You’re going to be so tired!” “Get ready for a lot of screaming!” “Guess this means your social life is over!”
I mean…unless said pregnant woman is new to the planet, I’m pretty sure they have an idea what they’re in for. Like, it’s kind of a thing that newborns don’t sleep for long stretches and cry fairly often and you probably shouldn’t go clubbing as a new mom. But you’re not really helping anything by pointing this out. Especially if this particular pregnant woman is already feeling kind of down or worried about the negative aspects of a new baby.
Instead, say: As soon as you feel up to it, I’m coming over with a bottle of wine and holding your baby while you tell me all the gory details.
What’s that? The negative aspects of a new baby can be funny? Or at least a good story later? Not unlike #2, sometimes a pregnant woman or new mom just needs reinforcement that her life can be similar to how it was before — not just a ribbing reminder of everything that is about to/has just changed. Be the good friend who helps her focus on the positives — and who proves that they’re still your friend despite the changes.
#4 You can’t do that when you’re pregnant/when you have a baby.
There are exactly two exceptions to this rule: 1) if you are the woman’s health care provider, and 2) if you are explicitly asked by said pregnant woman what you think.
Because, you know what? In our culture, pregnant women and moms are dumped on, you guys. We are made to feel like pregnancy and babies are the ultimate burden, and virtually every aspect of becoming a mother is made twice as hard by societal implications. Think about it: Maternity leave rarely comes with pay in this country, meaning women who love their jobs have to choose between leaving young children in daycare or giving up their careers. Public breastfeeding is routinely looked down upon, meaning women are essentially shamed into staying home rather than continuing to live their lives. People make comments like, “You’ll never get your body back,” reminding women that they’re only as good as they look and their contributions as mothers and therefore the creators of future society are valueless. (Or am I the only one hearing that when people say things like, “You’ll never get your body back”?)
The fact is, there are very few things you finitely cannot do when you are pregnant and/or have a new baby. In most cases, even medical professionals agree that all things in moderations are generally fine. (Except, I don’t know…arsenic. But, really, that was probably not a big part of your life before pregnancy anyway.) I’m a fairly crunchy pregnant person/new mom, but what other moms choose to do is their business. If I have opinions, I’m almost always going to keep them to myself. (Unless, you know, you’re trying to eat arsenic. In which case, we will have words.)
Instead, say: How are you feeling?
Because actual concern is always a better place to start — and much more helpful — than judgment.
Pregnant ladies/new moms out there, what did I miss? What are your least favorite things to hear?
We need to talk about something. And, judging by the title of this post, I hope you recognize the seriousness.
You have to admit, that’s a pretty good title. Intrigue.
So, what is it? What is this thing so terrible, so insidious that no one even wants to let the words cross their lips lest they incur the wrath of the metropolitan gods?
The struggle that is getting packages delivered to NYC apartments.
Well, while those things may be worse things about living in New York, I’m pretty sure that, when you mentioned to your college roommate who currently lives in a Brooklyn apartment with two roommates that you were thinking of moving to the East Coast, she or he kindly let you know about those particular realities.
What I’m better he or she did not mention? You can kiss that blind faith you’ve had in the postal system goodbye.
Listen. I’m not trying to knock postal workers. They have tough, tough jobs. Through rain, sleet, snow, and darkest night? That sounds brutal.
But the thing is…that is the oath, right? So…why do I feel like no one really takes it seriously?
Let me tell you a few things you are guaranteed to experience if you live in New York for at least a calendar year:
#1: You will never receive at least one package for no apparent reason.
And the real kicker will be that no one will be able to tell you what went wrong. And you may or may not ever get a free replacement. It will just be gone. Forever. AND YOU WILL BE HELPLESS.
#2: You will have at least one package stolen from you.
I freely admit that occurrence #2 could be the cause of occurrence #1.
You know why? Because people are TERRIBLE. I have a dear friend who has actually tried to go door-to-door in her building seeking out who the good-for-nothing thieves are, but her husband stops her every time. I mean, he’s probably right. (These are good-for-nothing thieves, after all…who knows what they’re capable of.) BUT STILL.
The truly annoying part is that you’ll call up your building management to complain, and they will essentially feed you their version of “there’s nothing we can do.” And as much as that infuriates you, in this case, it’s probably actually true.
Just kidding — it’s never actually true. They could make sure your broken vestibule door is repaired. They could install security cameras. They could provide you with secure mailboxes. But all of those things cost money, so they’re never going to happen.
#3: You will have packages “returned” on your behalf.
This has actually happened to be a couple of times in the last couple of months, so it’s a fresh wound. (Would I go so far as to call it the inspiration for this post because it happened this morning? Why, yes, I suppose I would.)
What happens is that, for whatever reason, the delivery service does not feel up to delivering your package. Maybe it was too heavy. Maybe they forgot to deliver it when they dropped off your other stuff, and now the thought of going all the way back to your apartment is just too much for them. We may never know. The point is, the shipper will make the judgment call that your good should just go back from whence they came. You won’t even know it happened until you receive the email confirmation of your return. At which point you will think, “That is curious. Because I never received a product to return. Hmmm…”
If you’re lucky, the company who sent your product will have already issued a refund so you can reorder your item. If you’re only marginally lucky, you will still have to spend half an hour on the phone with no fewer than three customer service reps to get your item reordered and then have to wait a week to get it anyway. Hypothetically.
The point is, there are few things in day-to-day life that make you feel quite so helpless as trying (and failing) to get a package delivered to you in New York City. And once you’ve suffered any of these occurrences, you’ll place all your orders like someone eating salmon who has already choked on a fish bone: very carefully and with a hefty dose of suspicion and doubt.
I just thought you should know. In case no one has told you yet.
While I do feel like the first two months of Vivi’s life have gone by quickly, I also feel like they haven’t. Sure, a lot of the (at times restless) nights blend together into one long blur of feedings, but there are also a lot of crystal clear moments. Moments of joy (the first time she smiled at me!) and moments of “oh Lord, this is never going to end…” (see previously mentioned restless nights).
Fortunately, the good still far outweighs the bad. Yes, I’m still occasionally doused in puke or frustrated when I can’t find a cause (and therefore a solution) for a screaming fit, but by and large, Vivi is a happy, social baby, and I love being able to watch her change and develop every day.
So what is my 2-month-old doing these days? Well, I already mentioned the smiling, but it bears repeating because it is so. freaking. cute. It’s completely Joey’s smile (despite her having my mouth), which I think just makes me love it even more.
She’s also babbling a lot more, discovering new sounds (and, unfortunately for me, new cries) and becoming more and more interactive each week.
And she’s growing like a weed. Her size three-month leggings are starting to look like flood pants on her gangly little legs, and she’s filled out quite a bit in her belly and cheeks. (Yes, it’s just as cute as it sounds.)
But along with Vivi’s advancements, the last two months have led to a lot of realizations about myself and parenting as well.
The biggest being that parenting is probably the greatest exercise in humility you will ever encounter.
There’s simply no room to be cocky as a new parent because your baby is essentially a brand new person every day. Sure, your baby rolled over early and is a champion breastfeeder. But you know what else? She also screams during the entirety of tummy time and projectile vomits when she accidentally eats too much too quickly.
Yup, bet you’re feeling real advanced when your ears are ringing and you’re wiping spit-up out of your hair with a baby wipe. (Because, sorry, you’re not getting a real shower until afternoon nap time.)
At least once a day, I get an awesome feeling of, “I’ve GOT this. I am not a terrible mom — in fact, I think I’m doing pretty well,” but it’s usually swiftly followed by a crushing feeling of, “I am DEFINITELY screwing all of this up. What was I thinking having a baby?!”
It’s those moments when those little moments of eye contact and baby grins really come in handy.
The point is, it’s better to just stay humble. When they go well, maybe take a breath before you start sending out those early admission applications to Harvard. And when they don’t go so well? Try not to take it so personally.
After all, she’ll be a new baby tomorrow.
Being covered in puke and not flinching.
Thinking you cleaned off the puke and noticing half an hour later there’s still some on your forearm.
Taking every toddler toy commercial personally. (Will my baby never walk if I don’t buy that?!)(Answer: Your baby will still walk, psycho.)
Spending most of the day with your nursing bra unhooked before finally hooking it again. Most likely in public. Because you don’t even care anymore.
Planning your DAY around a stubborn burp bubble.
Being either half an hour early or an hour late to everything.
Truly believing all is lost if we lose this dang binky.
A tiny bit of guilt at what a relief it is when someone else wants to hold the baby. (Yay! Five minutes where no one is touching/clawing at me!)
The rush of love (and secret relief) when she really just wants to come back to you.
Reveling in every nap that lasts longer than twenty minutes. (He-llo, brushed hair and a cup of coffee!)
Wondering at least twenty times a day if you’re doing it right.
Praying for the next stage of development.
Wishing she could stay this way forever.
Writing blog posts in the back of Uber cars because it’s one of the few places your baby sleeps soundly.
I’m going to tell you a sad story. It’s called, “The Time I Tried to Make a Cheesecake for a Party.”
And, yes, there is a bit of foreshadowing in that title, isn’t there?
Last week, we found out two of our dear, dear friends were moving to Texas. To send them off in style, a group of us decided to put together a little Western-themed going-away party. Everyone chipped in or offered to bring a certain dish or drink for the party.
I offered to bring a cheesecake because it is one of our friend’s favorite dessert.
Nice enough, right? Sound simple, doesn’t it?
But, as you already know, this is a sad story. And sad stories are rarely nice and simple.
Anyone who has ever made a cheesecake before knows that it’s at least a 2-day process if you’re making the real deal. (Your no-bake Jell-o versions need not apply here.) So, the day before the party, I rounded up the ingredients for a Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with white chocolate chips (roughly $40 of ingredients because baking is expensive, yo) and got to work after dinner.
It’s also relevant for you to know that my husband’s pal Gregg was over for dinner, and he and Joey watched this whole thing go down.
After dinner, the boys sat around drinking scotch and bonding (I assume) while I went to work in the kitchen. I made my own crust from gluten-free ginger cookies to appease the guests with diet restrictions. I whipped the cream cheese and sour cream and sugar and white chocolate into a fluffy, pillow-y mass. I gently swirled the raspberry jam, thinking fondly of the fresh raspberries I had also purchased to adorn the cake the next day.
When everything had been lovingly combined and assembled, I arranged the springform-bound confection in a water bath and put it in the oven.
It takes almost two hours to bake a cheesecake, so the boys had a great deal of fun asking me at 20-minute intervals if they could eat it yet. Ah…what fun we had…before the incident.
I always get nervous at this stage of cheesecake making because it’s so difficult to tell if it’s truly done. The center should still be a bit wiggly when you take the cake out of the oven because it sets up in the fridge overnight. If you over-bake a cheesecake, it gets a dry, almost powdery consistency that still usually tastes okay but is not as pleasing.
I was even more nervous because my little, old oven is not exactly the most reliable appliance.
But despite my trepidation, I finally got the cake to the correct consistency and set it on the stove to cool for an hour before it was to be refrigerated.
By this time, it was after eleven, and this old lady was quite tired to be up past her bedtime. But after washing all the dishes (because what’s the point of a perfectly prepared dessert if your kitchen is a disaster?) I watched TV with the guys and we chatted amicably about how to make cheesecake (and, no, they still couldn’t eat it).
Around 11:45, I had to call it a night, so I went to put the cheesecake in the fridge.
When I tell this story in person, this is around the time when people start biting their lip or preemptively putting their hands over their mouths in anxiety.
I don’t really have an excuse for what happened next. I mean, I was tired. The cake was kind of heavy. I had it on top of another pan so the butter wouldn’t drip onto the floor. I was holding it with one hand and opening the fridge door with the other.
But really, the excuses don’t matter. What matters is that one second I was opening the fridge door to put the cake in, and the next I was watching it, in slow motion, slide off the tray, nail a 180-degree flip, and then splatter all over the kitchen floor. The springform pan, free of it’s creamy contents, did one of those slow, spin-rattles to a stop.
No one in the apartment breathed for a second. (Well, Bogey did. He was already lunging for the mess.)
A number of thoughts courses through my brain in those seconds.
“That did not just happen.”
“I didn’t even have a chance to clean the floor yet this week.”
“$40 of ingredients.”
“This is why I don’t bake.”
And an assortment of words not becoming of a lady.
I let out a long, slow breath, and started to clean up the mess. Joey tentatively approached me from behind. You know, the way you do a wild animal that might kill you.
“Oh babe…what happened?” he asked.
“I do not want to talk about what just happened,” I seethed through clenched teeth.
“Ok,” he replied quickly. “Do you want me to get the Wet Jet or-”
“I want you to stand there and not say anything.”
“I can do that.”
(Even in the moment, I have to give it up to Joey for just NOT trying to fix it in that moment. I was mad at everything, and he knew getting involved was a surefire way to make me mad at him, too.)
For the record, I didn’t cry then. I didn’t cry while I scooped the (still searing hot) cheesecake back into the pan with my fingers and a large spoon. I didn’t cry while I sponged up the creamy bits the spoon couldn’t get. I didn’t cry while I mopped up the sticky remnants. I took a few shuddery breaths while I washed my hands and face, but I did not cry.
I told the guys I was going to bed. They quickly said, “Ok!” and gave me their best sympathetic glances.
I went to my bedroom and shut the door. And then? Then homegirl sobbed.
To be fair, I probably would have cried even if I wasn’t dealing with Hulk-level hormones lately, but I’m sure it didn’t help.
I heard the guys whispering furtively in the living room for a few minutes. Then a little while later, Gregg went home. Joey came into the bedroom and wrapped me in a bear hug.
“I just want you to know, Gregg and I both think you handled that better than we would have. We agreed that we definitely would have been throwing things.”
“I…don’t…want…to…talk about it,” I heaved through my sobs.
We both went to bed. And the next day, Joey bought a cheesecake for the party. (I wanted nothing to do about it.)
I can laugh about it now, obviously. (Though the next morning, I still wasn’t able to tell the story without getting glossy eyes.) But I just felt like sharing the story on here was the best way to purge it from my system.
So now, I want to hear your sad stories. Share your experiences of baking loves lost in the comments below. And we’ll all bond over wasted ingredients and sticky floors together.
Really, I should have known that the new apartment was coming together too quickly.
We’ve only been in the new place for a couple months, and already I had the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom done. The hallway was going to be finished this weekend, and then all we would have left was the baby room.
It was just. Too. Simple.
Our upstairs neighbor must have known things were going a bit too swimmingly as well. So she decided to intervene.
Before I tell you this story, you need to know that our apartment is in the basement of a house. We have two floors, each of which are their own apartment, above us. We now return you to the story.
Last Friday, the woman on the third floor started filling up a pot of water in the sink. Then she left. For, apparently, hours. The pot quickly filled with water, and then the sink filled with water, and then the water overflowed and flooded her apartment. It then flooded the first floor apartment. It then started to leak into our apartment.
This is, apparently, the second time this woman has done this. *finger gun to the face motion*
Fortunately, Joey got home in time to realize what was happening (due to the three large, quickly expanding bubbles on our ceiling) and move our furniture out of the way and put put buckets under the bubbles. When everything was in place, he poked small holes in the bubbles to allow the water to drain into the buckets. The bubbles remained, but at least the water within them had been dealt with.
Or so we thought.
When our landlord sent over a contractor to assess the damage a week later (grumble), they found that water was not only in our hallway ceiling, it had also been leaking into one of our bedroom walls all week. The entire wall had rotted and needed to be ripped out. The ceiling needed to be opened, dried with heavy-duty fans for three days, and then either ripped out (if the wood had warped) or just have the sheetrock replaced (if it had not).
This all happened three days before we were supposed to have family over on Sunday for our gender reveal.
I was not, shall we say, pleased. There may have been tears. But I like to think I would have been able to handle it sans the weepies if I wasn’t pregnant.
The negatives of this situation are fairly obvious, so let’s look at the silver linings, okay?
1. This didn’t happen when the baby was here. I would much rather deal with construction without having to worry about it upsetting anyone’s nap time.
2. It could be worse? At least it’s only one wall and one section of ceiling as opposed to the more heavy-duty damage our upstairs neighbors are dealing with.
3. A friend offered her house for the party. Which is super nice, I just hate having to impose. Blerg.
Those are pretty much all of the positives. Really, there is very little good about water damage.
Sooooo that’s what’s going on. But on the actual bright side, today is my anatomy scan ultrasound, so hopefully we will know more about our little bean this weekend. Stay tuned!