The thing about being pregnant—and in particular being enormously pregnant with multiples—is that your privacy and anonymity go out the window. All manner of strangers want to talk to you on the street, often to impart so-called wisdom that can sometimes be totally misguided or downright insulting. Fortunately, in the mess of all that, ahem, feedback, I got a few pearls of excellent advice that have proven totally valuable in my first couple of months of motherhood. Here's what they were:
1. "If you can manage to leave the house, don't go to Babies R Us."
A friend stressed the importance of doing all the baby-stuff shopping online that I possibly can, so that when—or if—I can manage the Herculean feat of gathering all my necessary gear and corralling two newborns into the car, I don't waste all that effort on a big box store. Instead, she said, go to the park, or walk the grounds of a museum. And she was so right.
All I can say is thank heaven I'm parenting in the Internet age. Everything is available to me online, and Amazon Mom even gives me the incentive of a substantial discount to put my diapers and wipes shipments on autopilot. So (with the exception of returns that must be done in store) when I drag my family out of the house, I prefer to walk along the bluffs overlooking the beach in Santa Monica, or stroll the grounds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And I feel downright human—even civilized—when I do.
2. "Don't feel pressure to enjoy every moment."
This one came to me in the form of a New York Post column written by my journalism school friend, Mackenzie Dawson. Her piece took aim at the well-intentioned yet foolhardy advice to "enjoy every moment," which is showered on pregnant women and new mothers like so much confetti. The fact is, pregnancy can be really hard.
After a comfortable six months, I felt like I was continually being run over by the same truck daily in my third trimester. Likewise the first couple months of motherhood have been filled with both joy and intense fear and fatigue. It was Mackenzie's piece that was an excellent reminder to live in the moment, of course, to be present, try to soak it all in, take a million pictures—but to allow myself also to roll my eyes at the hilarious impossibility of "enjoying every moment." Feeling like I should—or possibly even could—only sets unrealistic expectations and puts undue pressure on moms and moms-to-be.
3. "Join a club."
We took an otherwise fairly useless parents-to-be-of-multiples class at our delivery hospital that left us with one important takeaway message: Join a local club. I came home and immediately signed up for the West Los Angeles Parents of Multiples club, which has proven to be immeasurably helpful in these early weeks. First, the impressively organized club mobilized three weeks' worth of volunteers to send meals to our home after our babies were born! And it's been a great source of information exchange on topics specific to my parenting niche—mine is multiples, but yours might be single parenting, same-sex parenting, or whatever it is—that keep me from ever feeling truly alone.
This piece of advice comes with an important caveat, though: Join a local club, yes. But be very mindful of the rabbit holes that are online Facebook groups and message boards. Take the information that's useful to you and feels solid, but remember to filter much of it out as the unscientific or paranoid ramblings of the blind leading the blind in too many cases.
What's the best advice you got when you were pregnant?
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