I feel like I've learned an awful lot in the last eight and a half months or so. Pregnancy has been one of the most humbling, exciting, elating, and exhausting experiences of my life. It has reordered my priorities, and honestly I think it has generally made me a more positive person (at least on the days when I'm not screamingly hormonal). Furthermore, it has definitely made me analyze, to some degree, how other people interact with me, especially when discussing the news that we're expecting and within the next month, will be parents.
We've all heard the phrase "Misery Loves Company" and I know it's true. I've seen it these past 8 months or so. I can't count the number of times that folks have responded to our news with generally negative feedback, talking in an "elbow knocking" sort of way about how we'll never be able to afford anything nice, get any sleep, or have sex ever again. And the way those comments are delivered is normalized by our culture, to a great degree. Every so often you'll have the rare exception; the person who pulls you aside after what I can only describe as these "bonding diatribes" to say, "don't listen to all of that--parenting has its challenges, but you're in for the best adventure of your life!" Those people are a godsend, but sadly, few and far between.
Furthermore, our society doesn't seem to give us any room as "to be" parents to counter these diatribes with positivity. When I've tried, I'm met with pitying looks, and comments about how naive I am, and lots of "you'll see's". On days when exhaustion is constant and hormones are high, this environment can feel incredibly defeating, and breeds anxiety and uncertainty about the future (not that we don't have enough of that already).
I am one of many friends right now who are expecting a child in the next few months. And being in that position (I'm next up with at least 5 or so to come after me) I feel a certain responsibility to be...not a role model, but at least a positive force--an example of strength and ease for these women who are looking at me to see what life is going to be like for them in a few months time. And honestly? It has been really hard lately. The last month or so of this pregnancy has been difficult both physically and emotionally, and sometimes I do just want to break down and feel sorry for myself.
Luckily when that happens I have an amazingly supportive husband to fall back on, who has listened to me and literally held me up when I couldn't do it by myself. And I'm not "spoiled" to have that, as some have commented. Everyone deserves to have a spouse that treats them well and supports them through tough spots. I just happen to be lucky that I got what I deserve in this man who I am so proud to call my husband.
So I'm not sure where this post is going, exactly. Everyone (and by everyone, I mean the internet and baby books and girlfriends, etc) seems to recognize that a lot of folks tend to say the exact wrong thing to pregnant ladies. It is a reality to just "deal with" like swollen ankles and stretch marks. But why do we give people so much leeway to be rude and negative? Insensitivity shouldn't be as inevitable as swollen ankles and stretch marks. Positivity should.
So do me a favor. Next time you see a pregnant mom (either a friend, coworker, or total stranger pumping gas or at the store) tell her how GOOD she looks, especially when she doesn't. If you know her, tell her you're excited for her new bundle of joy, because that little guy or gal gets to have her as a mother. Tell her she's in for the most amazing adventure of her life, and she's going to be great at it.
Pay it forward with positivity. No one needs to be reminded about how hard it's going to be--I can assure you that by 8 months, that ground as pretty much been covered.