WHEN you’re pregnant, it’s amazing how many people are self-proclaimed experts in baby care. Even those who don’t have kids of their own suddenly have strong opinions on how you should raise your child. These people don’t realise how stabby I am.
When you first tell people you’re pregnant, there’ll inevitably be someone who thinks you should have waited longer before sharing the good news, even if you’ve already had your first scan and everything is looking as it should. I mean, I was already ballooning at that stage so couldn’t carry on hiding it, but it was still suggested that I should have kept the news to myself for another month or two. Seriously, keeping schtum when your belly’s the size of a soccer ball isn’t going to fool a lot of folk.
Then comes the advice on what you should be eating, what vitamins you should be taking, and what sort of exercise you should be doing. Everyone becomes a nutritionist and a fitness expert. But let me tell you, a few hours of watching Gillian McKeith examining people’s poo doesn’t suddenly make you an expert on other’s people’s diets. It doesn’t even make Gillian McKeith an expert.
And woe betide you if you then want to find out the sex of your baby at the next scan. Apparently, that should be “a surprise”. As if waiting for the child to be born would make it any more of a surprise than finding out from the doctor or midwife during the ultrasound. I can assure you that when I found out it was a girl, I didn’t turn around and say, “Yeah, I kinda figured as much alright”. No, I bawled my eyes out, like any emotionally unstable woman.
And even those who don’t particularly mind that you found out are still a-gasp that you would then go around telling people. I’ve been asked by strangers several times if I know what I’m having and, when I tell them it’s a girl, I invariably get the same “You’re telling people?!” reaction. Because apparently telling people when they ask the question is much more appalling than replying, “Yes, we know what we’re having, but we’re not telling you.”
Once that’s out of the way, you’ll be absolutely crucified for buying anything. When I found out we were having a girl, I went on a bit of a shopping spree and bought some tiny little outfits and dresses, by way of celebration. Oh how wrong I was! Unbeknownst to myself, I had apparently jinxed myself and the baby, and we’ll both end up with all kinds of bad luck. Honestly, I may as well have just gone around smashing mirrors, walking under ladders, and stepping on every crack I came across. Yes, being prepared for your baby’s birth is terribly bad form.
Then come the questions about names. Sam and I have picked a name we both like, but are holding off on telling people for the simple reason that there’s always a chance we’ll change our minds. But also because, no matter what name we pick, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like it, so we think it’s best to wait ‘til it’s on the birth cert and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. I recently got a taxi home from an ante-natal check-up and, when the driver asked about names, I figured I might as well tell him seen as he’s a complete stranger. Well! He didn’t even try to hide his horror. In fact, he spent most of the journey listing off a whole host of other names he thought I should consider instead.
And now that I’ve only five weeks to go – gulp! – people are starting to throw in their tuppence worth about what sort of birth I should have. Because, naturally, I can’t be trusted to make that sort of decision for myself. Everyone has an angle on pain relief, procedures, positions… and they’re not afraid to tell you how wrong you are if you even consider any other way of doing things. It’s only by some miracle that these people are still walking around with their kneecaps in place.
Now don’t get me wrong, if I’ve asked you for your advice, it’s because I value it. But if you offer it unsolicited, I’ll take to it about as kindly as a cat to water. And my boot will not-so-kindly take to your arse.