Pregnancy teaches you a whole lot, doesn’t it? About a whole lot of stuff; right? More, in fact, than you ever thought you’d need to know about, say, hemorrhoids. Or varicose veins. I learned so much during my two pregnancies that I gained forty-five pounds of pure knowledge. And one of the biggest lessons I learned was how much people like to share with pregnant women: maternity clothes, baby gifts, hand-me-down furniture…and advice. Oh, the advice.
Nothing, in my experience, brought out people’s generosity quite like the desire to bestow upon me and my poor unsuspecting fetus their opinions and words of – ahem – wisdom. And what follows here is a sampling of the often solicitous, always unsolicited advice I received when I was knocked up, down, and sideways by pregnancy.
• Remember: you’re eating for two! Oddly, people told me this over and over again during my first trimester, when so much as a whiff of a green M&M made me gag. Huh, go figure: these comments seemed to taper off after the second trimester or so, when I’d eaten enough M&Ms (of all colors) that I’d gained more weight than my freshman dorm.
• Make sure to get enough exercise! Does hiking count? Because if it does, I am the Sir Edmund Hillary of getting up from and out of the bed on the thrice-nightly journeys to the bathroom. And I had no Sherpa to assist with carrying the loads that were my ass and abdomen.
• Sleep now, because once the baby comes…. Hah! Excellent! That’s a good one! I’ll have to remember that joke… when I’m up from 2:30 in the morning until sunrise with indigestion, cramps, anxiety, and the need to pee (again) (and again).
• Just rub some of this [insert brand name or creepy home remedy here] on your tummy to prevent stretch marks. If sleeping in the deep fryer at McDonald’s would have helped control stretch marks, I’d have dived right in. (Okay, truth
be told, I’d have dived in anyway; I mean, it’s the fryer at McDonald’s). But I was so desperate to forgo these imprints of motherhood that there was no grease too repulsive for me to caress lovingly onto my abdomen. So, for me, the grease-rubbing wasn’t the problem. The problem? The fact that everyone who offered this advice proceeded to then rub my abdomen as though instructing me on how
to apply the aforementioned elixir. There may have been a baby under it, but wasn’t it still, technically, my abdomen?
• You know how dangerous coloring your hair is now, don’t you? As dangerous as looking like Berlin in that Top Gun video? Because that sure would Take My Breath Away.
• You just can’t imagine how much your life will change! Cue threatening soundtrack here. Maybe something with an organ and Vincent Price laughing in it. Because everyone who offered this little crystal of knowledge did so with a
sort of implicit mwaa-haa-haa in their voice and a glint in their eye that always reminded me of Mr. Futz, my seventh-grade substitute teacher: kind of know-it-ally mixed with a little bit of schadenfreude. And it always left me feeling the way I do in that recurrent nightmare where I’m taking an exam while my teeth are falling out, and I have to pee, but I can’t get up because I’m naked.
It is true: pregnancy does weird things to people – and I’m not just talking about the pregnant ones. Because, let’s face it, we’re all affected by pregnancy, aren’t we?
Pregnancy means there’s been another person added to the guest list, another member invited to join the party, another attendee of the big event. It’s thrilling, isn’t it? So, with that in mind, it’s understandable that everyone wants to take part in the celebration – to share the joy, to share the moment, and even, alas, to share the advice.
Stephanie Stiles is the author of Take It Like A Mom. Look for my full review in the upcoming weeks! (Grab a copy now if you'd like to read along or, of course, let me know if you've read it!)
Thanks so much, Steph!