Monday, October 1st, 2012
For the entire first trimester, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops that I was pregnant, but being a healthy worrier required I hold onto the secret a little longer. It was particularly unbearable because truthfully, I’m a natural born
gossip sharer. My motto: I over-share because I care. And the pregnancy type of gossip? Some of my fave. You should have seen my mature reaction to the news that my girl Beyoncé was with child. Air kicks and jazz hands ensued. I am not ashamed.
Alas, I was also harboring the guilt that a random sales lady in the Phoenix area knew my secret BEFORE MY OWN MOTHER because I was acting a “middle school fool” with a secret I promised not to tell, but of course meant I had to tell. I’m sure the sales lady wanted to know I bought the skirt with the stretchy waistband because; “I’m pregnant!” squealed at only octaves Mariah Carey can pleasingly reach. And I’m just going to pretend things didn’t get a little awkward when I went in for a congratulatory hug.
The pregnancy coming out process is a big deal these days. You can’t just phone the VIPs in your life and say, “We’re having a baby!” So passé.
This isn’t, heaven forbid, the pre-social media era of the 80s where creativity was dormant and everybody didn’t GET to know your business. There are no excuses to be unoriginal, or at least not to copy someone else’s idea when you have a plethora of perfect, anxiety-inducing Pinterest birth announcement ideas at your mouse-tip. A birth announcement that doesn’t manage to include the ever prominent mason jars, hair braiding, striped straws, and quinoa is no birth announcement at all. I mean, do you love your unborn child?
Don’t even get me started on Facebook. It’s teeming with sweat-inducing pressure. To post or not to post the sonogram? That is the question. To dramatically circle or not to circle your future baby’s man parts? Decisions, decisions. Don’t tell me I’m the only one to feel the pressure, people. I’ve got 99 skills but creativity ain’t one.
I’m sure everyone suspected we were with child anyway. Our first born is at a socially acceptable age to try for a second, and the curious regularly started asking when we are having more. The more forward folk asked me flat out if I was pregnant.
Life lesson time: That question is never okay. NEVER. I don’t care if someone is in the nine months beached whale stage; you mind your p’s and q’s and wait for them to tell you. I’ve seen my own mother prostrate on the couch for an entire day bemoaning the fact that someone wrongly asked her when she was due. The lady has birthed 6 children au natural and the thing that brought her to her knees was the nosy pregnancy police. That was a very impressionable lesson from the streets. When it comes to pregnancy, it’s simply a “Don’t Ask” policy.
Despite it all, we were ready to tell. I couldn’t wait to come out and tell everyone we were ready for the magical tomfoolery of a newborn again. We had our copy cat creative idea all ready to go: A secret scratch and reveal mailer. Be impressed. There’s nothing like the suspense of imagining our family and friends scratching and grinning at what they all suspected, then dialing up our digits and air kicking, jazz handing, and squealing along with us.
Friday, September 28th, 2012
How do you tell a toddler for whom the concept of time is elusive and really just a permanent state of Veruca Salt’s “I want it now!” syndrome that their life is about to change for-ev-ER in…9 months? I’m still not sure I know the answer, but I am sure I was overly and unnecessarily terrified that the way in which we told our daughter about the new baby would potentially cause her undue psychological damage.
Like the serial worrier that I am, before we told her, I looked to the infinite source of wisdom for some answers, Google. Lo and behold, I didn’t yield anything that promised to be the foolproof antithesis of psychological damage technique. I did read that at her age of 2, I should not expect it to resonate with her or even garner a response.
To our advantage, she does love herself a baby…for .03 seconds, long enough to say in an adorably sickening high pitched voice, “a baby, oh it’s sooooo sweet” before she’s off jumping on couches or pretending she’s John Smith from Disney’s Pocahontas.
Prepared for anything, I figured the best route was to just talk first to her about babies. With unpredictability being the name of the game we proceeded with caution but excitement and my astute parenting mantra: “let’s just wing it.”
Our exchange proceeded a little something like this:
Me: H, how do you hold a baby? (She proceeds to cradle her baby doll, albeit at an arm’s length but with tenderness).
Me: How do you burp a baby? (She does her best attempt at a sweet burp on the back of the baby’s neck).
Me: How do you hug a baby? (Cue her affectionate death squeeze).
Me: Are babies so sweet? (Cue her sickeningly sweet baby voice).
And here’s where it happened. I told her a new baby was going to join our family and she was going to be a big sister. And with her head at a tilt and a thoughtful pause, she looked at me and my husband and said, “I don’t want to scare her.”
Come again? Scare her? What kind of MONSTER are we raising? What does that mean? Quick internal worry meter, analyze that.
I gave some reassuring response that I winged of course, and then she asked, “Who’s coming tomorrow?” Ah, poor, sweet thing, the concept of time is a rough one. Even now, when people ask her what’s in my belly she’ll just rattle off what I had for lunch.
And finally, she asked, “Who’s going to hold her?”
I remembered what Google said to make it inclusive and say “EVERYONE,” especially her, and not to emphasize me in the new baby situation.
Satisfied, she switched the subject, we did the rest of our nightly routine and off to bed she went. As I jotted down her responses I came back to “I don’t want to scare her.”
Despite my initial panic, in retrospect, I think this is the highest compliment a toddler can give. There are few outside stresses, worries or fears in toddler-hood. They do not know the adult world of anxiety and excessive worry yet. The thing toddlers do know is the immediacy of being scared. They can be scared of the garbage truck, blenders, vacuums, pooping, a pesky fly, the wind, or whatever strikes their toddler nerve that day. But their worries are usually immediate or anticipatory, and rarely long term.
In reality, it seems her assertion that “she’s not going to scare her” is the toddler equivalent of protection, love, and devotion. It is how I hope she views us as her parents, people who won’t scare her but will always love and protect her even as our family grows and changes.
With my “wing it” method earning another gold star and my mother chest puffed with pride, I feel certain our little girl will be an excellent, loving, overbearing big sister.