What did worrying ever do about it?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Before you get half-way through this post and decide to comment with your loving wisdom, know that there is a disclaimer at the end of this. Consider the last sentence a disclaimer to the disclaimer.

People talk to me a lot about the fact that I'm pregnant. I never really know how to respond to the question: "How is pregnancy going?" or "How are you feeling?" I never know if the person wants to know my emotional state or my physical symptom of the day. I feel like I usually end up saying something awkward that covers both bases.

Usually following that intro question into my 9-month journey, I'm asked what I'm going to do about da-da-da. Epidural or natural? Breast-feed or formula? Disposable diapers or cloth? Are you going to work or not work?
I used to answer these questions with: "I don't know what I'm doing!" and a hearty laugh to try and change the subject. It never worked. Following the laugh, I found myself flooded with unwanted advice about EVERYTHING baby. I felt condescended to and I hated it. I cried to my mom about this (seriously, how many times do I start my epiphanies like that?) and she told me I was degrading myself by saying: "I don't know, I don't have kids!" I was opening myself up to receiving unwanted advice. While I understood that, I wasn't sure how to combat it.

Then, I figured out a way to respond to these questions honestly and bluntly. "I have some plans, but those are decisions I'm going to have to make when I get there since I don't know how I or the baby will be." This normally cuts the conversation in half, and while the person still tells me what THEY did with THEIR baby, I don't feel like I'm being lectured all the time.

And you know why? Because my mom was right. Before, I was trying to show others that I wasn't naive, that I knew I knew nothing about childbirth and parenting. But it was making me appear fearful, and worried.

I'm not worried. Sometimes, people will ask me questions or start conversations like "are you worried/scared of going into labor/having the birth go wrong/middle of the night feedings/breast-feeding/inconsolable crying/poop disasters etc." And my typical response is pretty honest.


THIS response gets me a raised eyebrow or two and then a loooong discourse on how I SHOULD be worried because child-birth is no walk in the park, sweetie and you have no idea what you're getting yourself into.

Here's that disclaimer. It's really important:

Just because I say I'm not "worried" does not mean I am blind to the fact that having a baby and raising a family is going to be so difficult, I cannot even fathom it. I am not stupid, or wearing rose-colored glasses, or totally blind. I am, however, trying to get through this pregnancy with as little stress as possible for the health of me, my baby and my husband.

Worrying, stressing, or being afraid of things out of my control will not do any of the above mentioned people any good. Fear never accomplished anything of divinity, and I am working hard at not bringing it into my newly forming family.

I feel like everyone wants to share how horrible and hard child-rearing can be. Let's all get together and do us each a favor: The next time you are tempted to spout your negative experiences and "just you wait" comments try to remember that this woman is probably already going through a stressful time in her life and doesn't need to hear your ghastly horror stories covered by your ill-fitting "but it's all worth it in the end" band-aid.

Because child-birth is a miracle. And if you are religious, you know that miracles come by faith, not by fear.


  1. I have always felt like women's birth/first few weeks/child rearing stories are like men's "I caught a fish this big" stories. Exaggerated most of the time.

    When women get together, especially young mothers, I've found that while they occasionally talk about ideas and current events, most of the time the are talking about their children.

    I think the reason people (women) are so quick to give advice/warnings and information is because it's what they do, all day, every day, for YEARS.

    So don't always take it as people thinking you are naive, although there are always those people out there who are just longing and waiting to say "I told you so").

    But know that most advice you are given is meant in good spirits, because full time mommies in the back of their minds consider themselves a "professional" mom, since it's what they do all day long (even though most won't admit to this). However, I think that they forget that when giving advice that they are a professional master mom for Their family, Their children, Their circumstances.

    So just take advice, criticism, etc. with a grain of salt. Take the advice you like, discard the advice you don't and the negative comments, because trust me on this one... it isn't just in pregnancy you'll be given unwanted advice. ;)

    You'll be the perfect mom for your family. Your body knows what it's doing. You are strong, intelligent, talented, and capable. You are going to do great!

  2. Wow, that's a huge comment, maybe I should have just emailed you... oh well

  3. I found it a little strange myself that I wasn't more worried before my little boy was born. After discussing it with my husband, who was also notably not worried, we decided a couple of things: nobody really knows how to be a parent before they have kids, and even then who can really claim to know what they're doing? And not only is that true when you start having kids, but each subsequent child is a totally different human being that has their own unique needs. I don't believe that worrying can prepare anybody for that. Though I didn't really worry during my pregnancy, however, I think I unconsciously prepared myself for the worst, which has made most things about being a new mom a pleasant surprise.

    Now that my little boy is here, there are lots of things that have worked out really well for me so far that I would be happy to tell other mothers about (like how I get all my diapers free, if you care to know), but I realize that we all ultimately have to work our own way through parenthood (and everything else in life, for that matter) because my situation is never exactly the same as yours. Phew! Long-winded much?

  4. I agree with you, Carrie. You're already making good choices for things you can control (like taking prenatal vitamins, for example), and never ever in life has hand-wringing changed circumstances out of control. So way to choose a good attitude!

  5. Okay but the thing is you ARE wise. I love this.

    I always say "If it wasn't worth it, God wouldn't have wanted us to have families."

    I also love erin d's "I caught a fish this big" comparison. THAT is accurate.

  6. Carrie, you are my kindred spirit. Oftimes I feel like there are women just WAITING to comment on my Facebook posts with things like, "Oh, he's cute now, sure, just wait 'til the terrible twos!" or, "What, he's not sleeping through the night? My kid slept through the night since he was two weeks old!" ...and the like.

    But you've really hit the nail on the head. Each kid is different. Each Mom is different. You're going to be a level-headed mom that will find her own way of doing things, just like the rest of us.

    And if I ever EVER start to lecture you about the right way to do things, or say something negative like, "Oh, he's teething? Welcome to hell, sister!" don't let me get away with it. :) Love you.

  7. I think I must have looked like a very angry pregnant woman because not many people talked to me. I mean, my friends did, but not really any acquaintances or strangers. I hated the "advice" that I got. My husband told my mother-in-law how I haven't really been appreciating the comments people make (in an attempt to teach her to not do it herself... major fail) and she just basically said I need to suck it up and listen because they know better. I have a great relationship with her, can't you tell? Yay for being pregnant and having people talk to you about personal things they would never dream of talking about if you weren't pregnant. I wish I had your mom to give me ideas of things to say to cut those few conversations I had short.

  8. "What did worrying ever do about it?" Nothing! You are so right! Why worry when it won't change anything, it's only going to stress you out! Also, this is really random.... I think it's weird when people ask pregnant women how they are feeling. Why can't they just say "how are you today?" like they do to everyone else? It's like they assume that your pregnancy is an ailment and they want to see if you feel better today than you did yesterday. "How are you feeling?" is something I say to a person who is recovering from a cold. If I were pregnant my response to that question would be... I feel pregnant.

  9. well, well, well my cute roommate is preggo! congratulations! i've probably been one of those women who have given unwanted advice.

    want some? jk


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