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Five Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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We are a week away from our anticipated delivery date and I’ve started to turn introspective. I’m mentally circling the wagons and taking stock of what needs to happen.

  • The kiddo’s future room is basically done.
  • I worked my last day at work yesterday.
  • The car seat, grab and go bag, and big birthing exercise ball are all in the car.

At this point, I just need to have this baby.

As a result of all of this mental preparation and gazing at my non-existent navel (seriously, where did it go?) I’ve spent some time compiling a list of things you shouldn’t tell a pregnant woman.

Other than the whole crazy wonderful process of being an incubator for a new person I think the other thing I was most unprepared for, was the way that people talk to pregnant women and the things that others suddenly feel are acceptable to say.

So this is my personal top five of things you shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman.

1.  “You don’t look that pregnant.”

I get this one a lot. From cashiers at the grocery store to peripheral co-workers, folks seem to have an assessment of what 25 weeks pregnant looks  like, versus 35 weeks pregnant. Of course they mean no harm. In fact, it’s probably intended as a compliment about how your body really hasn’t changed that much at all. But unless you personally know that woman and her own pregnancy adventure, just don’t say it out loud.

What if this was my first successful pregnancy? What if I’d miscarried previously and being “this pregnant” was the most pregnant I’ve ever been? In any of those circumstances, looking “this pregnant” would be something I wouldn’t take for granted and idle comments about my size would be hurtful.

2.  “Do X while you still can.”

Replace X with any of the following:

    • Sleep
    • Travel
    • Go out and have a good time.
    • Enjoy one another’s company.

To which I feel it necessary to point out:

  • Physically, sleep is uncomfortable when you can only comfortably lie on your left side.
  • Traveling will be more difficult but not impossible with a little person in tow.
  • Our idea of going out is walking to the library on the weekend so baby really won’t be such a game changer there.
  • It makes me sad to think that partners can’t enjoy being together when there’s a little person involved too.

This quip often comes from people who have children and they seem to think they are dispensing useful advice. A more helpful thing to say would be to share how you both juggled being married and having a new little person. Or, to the single parent, suggestions on how to build their tribe of trusted extended family in order to help that strong individual who does not have live-in help.

3.  “Your husband probably wants a boy, doesn’t he?”

Mr. Pirate was really upset when I told him about this one. We opted not to find out baby’s sex because for us, it doesn’t matter. No matter what color we paint the baby’s room, we both want this little person in our lives.  I’m the mechanic with the pink toolbox for pity’s sake. If Mr. Pirate were the sort of man who wanted his first child to be male so that he could better relate to him, I don’t think he’d be the sort of man who I would have wanted to marry.

I respect other people’s decision for wanting to know baby’s sex, and I will admit it has made shopping for clothing a bit of a challenge since so much of what’s out there is gendered, but that’s it. You can’t put it back if we don’t like it, so you might as well accept that fact early and overcome any prejudices you have about one sex or the other.

4.  [Insert pregnancy/labor/birth/random horror story here]

Oh look! You have a belly! Let me tell you about the time that my wife’s cousin’s sister’s third-best friend had a really difficult delivery and nearly died.

No. Just no.

That is not how you make conversation. You do not approach a war veteran who lost his or her leg below the knee and make jokes about how much he or she must save on shoes now. Likewise, you don’t relate to someone who is pregnant by telling her about the absolute worst possible thing that could happen. Trust me. She’s already thought about it. A lot.

5.  “Oh, you won’t want to go back to work.”

I am extremely fortunate in the fact that my supervisor was able to work with me and find ways of adjusting my workload so that I could continue to be a part of his team throughout my pregnancy. I really like where I work and I take a great deal of pride in what I do. Having a baby doesn’t change that.

I’ll take as much of my maternity leave as I feel I need and then we’ll find a daycare solution and we’ll make it work for our family. The sad part about this one is that no one seems to care that Mr. Pirate only has one week of paternity leave available to him. An extra one if he takes vacation too.

Dads receive a fair bit of public criticism for not being present in their children’s lives, and as a society, we’re not helping. He will have just as much of an adjustment to make with a new little person in his life as I will. He just won’t have after-birth pains to deal with.

Now I’m curious though. What are some things that other women were told while pregnant that they found unpleasant or completely bizarre?

~*La!

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RSVP Dad On That Baby Shower

Recently, my male coworkers threw me a baby shower.

It was coupled with our monthly staff meeting so it wasn’t any big to-do. Just cake, pizza, me awkwardly being the center of attention, and then back to work. Baby is still 10 weeks away from go-time, but it is nice knowing that they too want to celebrate this new beginning that Mr. Pirate and I are about to embark on.

When I thanked my supervisor for the shindig he commented that I’ve started a new tradition. From now on, he said, we’ll have baby showers for all of the garage babies. Score one more for gender equality y’all.

As a lady mechanic I work in a male-dominated field. I am beyond fortunate that my fellow co-workers don’t treat me as inferior or less capable. My toolbox is pink, but beyond that, I’m just one of the guys.

The fact that my pregnant self has provoked a new tradition regarding celebrating life events is somewhat bittersweet though. We send around an envelope for weddings, retirements and funerals, but this was the first time that any of them had the opportunity to plan a baby shower. Our female administrative assistant confided later that the guys had no idea where to start or what you actually do at a baby shower. The sad part is compounded by the fact that the youngest garage baby (as in, person born while his or her dad was employed at our garage as a mechanic) is 14 months old and the oldest was married last summer.

As a society we want dads to be involved in their children’s lives.

And yet, there is this tendency to push dads to the sidelines when it comes to birth and babies. Products are marketed largely toward the female consumer. Very few restaurants feature a diaper changing station in the men’s room whereas it is a standard item in public women’s bathrooms.

Common workplace practices even shunt dads to the side. I get 12 weeks of maternity leave. Mr. Pirate gets one. As though one week is enough time for him to get acclimated to the presence of a new person in his life.

It isn’t fair.

Hands down I support gender equality. I want to go back to work after kiddo is born in large part because I want to demonstrate to my son or daughter that they really can be whatever they want to be. Male stylist. Lady plumber. Gentleman nurse. Female president. Gender should not dictate what a person can or cannot do.

But gender equality is not a one-way street. I don’t want to advocate for more professional opportunities for women and tell my husband he doesn’t know a thing about babies. For Pete’s sake — I don’t know a thing about babies.

Caring for infants is not some ingrained, natural part of my wiring exclusive to me being the one incubating this child. There are some things I’m apparently just going to know how to do (like the whole pushing thing), but there are other things — such as changing a tiny 8-ish pound baby’s diaper — I am going to have to practice. The same goes for my mister.

So maybe a good place to start when it comes to encouraging gender equality is to include men in the lives of these new people from the get-go. Invite men to baby showers. Advocate for dads to have actual paternity leave. Even, and maybe this is a little too new-age, treat men as though they are an important part of the family equation instead of pretending that their work is done once the bun is in the oven.

It’s just a thought.
~*La!

Babies everywhere! or how we tell the time

Well, not really. And not yet. Also, not yet for the pirate and I.

But in our little world there are a fair number of babies on the horizon (Miss Anna Mae, Baby Brown, and Baby Tami-John). Three sets of friends we know are expecting this summer and I’ve begun knitting madly so that maybe their baby hats will done before they are born. This will be a feat as most little people who come into my life don’t get their first knitted item until after they are done incubating.

These are happy and exciting times folks.

In other news:
My dad recently sent me a picture of my poorly remembered youth. I’m on my 82-year-old grandfather’s lap and my sister (9 at the time) is sitting next to him. We’re in the backyard in Brighton and both he and she look so happy.

Me?

I look vaguely peeved. Or confused.

It’s a good picture though and I’m happy he sent it to me. Most of the pictures of me as a small person are still in the photo albums at home. This though came from a bunch of slides that my dad recently acquired through the wonders of the technology.

Growing up I often heard of these slides. My family referenced them as others might give directions to Shangri-la.

“The pictures of the Kris Kringle Mart? They’re on the slides. But that was BA.”

BA-Before Ninjamechanic. A time that usually referred to the 9 years or so that my family was incomplete before I finally decided to show up.

They lived in Germany. My sister played golf on the Arsenal. We had a guinea pig. They participated in Volksmarches and our poodle went for bike rides.

Plenty happened after Ninjamechanic hit the scene … We moved to Northern Virginia. My dad and sister built the deck. We almost burned the kitchen down that one time in Indian Princesses.

Grade school. College. Georgia. Pirate-Ninja Wedding. Life stuff.

All just normal everyday things, but all things of which I have seen photographs. I’m a visual learner which I think contributes to my love of photography. You can express things in photographs or snapshots that other mediums sometimes struggle to articulate.

Moments in time that are fragile. Echoes of people who are no longer here and places that are out of reach.

I look forward to seeing what other things Dad digs up as he reclaims the slides. Especially the BA ones.