Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Baby Comments

I read a very good post yesterday that I saw on many friend's pages, fluttering around the internet, about an expecting mom and the negative comments she's gotten about her first pregnancy.  It begins by talking about how 9 out of 10 people who approach the happily pregnant mom have something negative to say.  As I read the post by Courtney, at Women Living Well, I found myself reflecting on my experience over the course of my four pregnancies, both the experiences while pregnant and while braving the supermarket and streets with little ones in tow.

To be honest, I don't remember getting negative comments when I was expecting Sadie.  Sure I was ready to be done hearing "you're about to pop!" when I was around six months along, but it was just before the recession and the economy was still booming along on those creaky, about to collapse sub-prime mortgages, so the tone of society in general seemed a bit more optimistic back then.  Besides, I was living in a place where 26 wasn't young to be pregnant, although when we visited the city to do some shopping before Christmas, I realized that I basically looked like a teenager when my age was compared with the average ages of the stylish pregnant women I ran into at the stores.

The really odious comments started when I was pregnant with Christian.  We had passed the socially acceptable "two child" mark.  Three was apparently distasteful.  I was asked if my husband would get snipped in the grocery line by someone I'd never spoken to before.  People wished me luck on having that boy so that we could "finally" stop "trying."  They inquired as to whether we would "try again" if this was another little girl.

There were people that said:  "Oh I'm so sorry!" when they heard the news delivered in an obviously over joyed tone.

When we lost Christian in the second trimester all those comments continued to ring bitterly in my ears. They, along with the ever so common "well it was probably for the best... there was probably something wrong with the baby..." comments seemed to swirl around in my thoughts at random times, mixed in with the sadness and sickness of those days, which were already difficult to bear.

And yet lately I've found my reaction changing in a way that surprises me at times.

It began near the end of my pregnancy with Patrick.  It was after I'd spent those four days at the end of my pregnancy at the hospital, and so Nani was out visiting and for the first time in over a year I found myself out occasionally by myself or with Paul, unaccompanied by the princesses while we ran quick errands.

This time I did experience the negativity apparently directed at first time moms.  People would gleefully tell me in the check out line about the horrors of baby-hood that I was about to experience.  I would find myself smiling though as they spoke of the long sleepless months ahead, until they'd say: "this is you first, isn't it?" and I would say those shocking words: "Oh no, I have two at home who are two and four" which to me didn't seem all that mind blowing at all, but which, from the reactions I received, apparently was (sometimes I'd throw in "yup, my hands are full!" just for good measure).  "We've been lucky though."  I'd say.  "Our girls go in their rooms at bedtime and sleep all night.  I used to have to wake up our second to eat when she was a newborn.  But who knows if this one will be a good sleeper or not.  We'll have to wait and see."

This response seemed to shock and astound.  It was followed by silence.  I was supposed to be horrified and dreading sleepless nights.  Often times people even seemed a little disappointed.

When I went into the doctors office for Patrick's appointments once he arrived, I found myself greeted with disbelief.  "Having a new baby is hard."  They would tell me.  "Oh he's an easy baby."  I would say and eyes would widen in disbelief.  "He sleeps and eats and hardly ever cries.  He's just as snuggly as can be."  No one really seemed to believe me.  "My first was hard."  I would assure them.  They'd look at me as if watching for signs that I was about to crack and burst into tears.

I've wondered myself if Patrick and Mae's baby-hood was easy because they were easy babies or because I was a much more relaxed as a mother.  I have no idea what the answer is (Sadie had reflux... and reflux was not easy... although it would have been much easier I imagine if we'd figured out what it was much earlier...).  Sometimes I imagine it's a little of both.

For me at least, there's been a learning curve to motherhood.  Putting someone else first all the time wasn't an easy adjustment.  I'd never changed a diaper before I had Sadie.  I hadn't held a baby for more than a minute or so.  I'd read a lot of books but that was pretty much it.  If the doctor had said "having a baby is hard" when Sadie was six months old I would have nodded with sleep blurred eyes in agreement as if it were the set in stone truth for every single baby.

Sometimes I feel like having a toddler puts it in perspective.  Mae is a mischievous whirlwind of wonderfulness.  Making sure she survives the day and doesn't free climb the mantle to base jump off of it, is my challenge.  Patrick?  He's can't crawl yet.  He stays where I put him.  Every time I look at him he smiles at me like I'm  the greatest mom ever.  He's a piece of cake.

Maybe someday we will be blessed with another baby who needs to nurse every hour, never sleeps, and screams like a banshee with colic for no apparent reason.  It happens.  We lived through it once and it was so incredibly worth it for our beautiful laughing girl.  However I would be much more proactive since I now know that isn't just "how all babies are" at trying to find out why our little one is so uncomfortable.  After all, Patrick is that baby if I have anything dairy.

As for the comments?  They're trickling off.  In part because I'm not pregnant and maybe in part because Mae Bae has a sort of feral look to her, with her perpetually disheveled hair and wild laughing eyes, and so people give us a wide berth even when she's quiet and still.

And to all you mom's enduring those comments in the supermarket check out line or at the bank tellers window at the bank... hang in there.  Whatever the world tells you I can promise you this:  It's worth it. It's so, so worth it.  It isn't what the world calls "easy."  But most things worth having aren't.


  1. It's so sad that you have to deal with this. :( I'm sorry.

    It reminds me of the looks/comments infertile couples get from devout Catholics who assume the couple is contracepting.


  2. I can't even imagine going through that. It would be such a heavy cross to bear. It does put it in perspective and makes the comments we've heard seem even lighter.

  3. I didn't hear many negative comments until we found out our #3 was going to be our third girl.

    Then when we found out we were pregnant with my #4 who turned out to be a boy -- oh, the firestorm of comments about "don't ya know what causes that?" and "aren't you going to stop?" came along.

    When we had #5, another boy, surprisingly no comments at all...

    Even though we lost #6 in the 2nd trimester, we still didn't get any negativity with him, either. I am glad because losing him at 20 weeks was enough to bear anyway.

  4. I got those comments and more when I was 41 and pregnant with my fifth. It seems that it is more offensive to be over 35 and have more than 2 kids. My husband was teased at work that he was so old that the child couldn't possibly be his(he is 17 months older than I). It amazes me what people feel is appropriate to say to people they don't know. I guess the worst was when at 27 the assistant manager at the bank told me I was wasting my life because I had a college degree and was staying home with my (then only 2)children.

  5. I read things like this and just find myself thinking that most people are really not very bright. At least I hope that is what it is and not that they actually buy into the whole culture of death anti-family garbage.

    I see my children and grandchildren as my fortune. I'm a wealthy woman in my own estimation. Not to put anything negative on those blessed differently, nor to envy those blessed with more children, just to rejoice in these people I've been blessed to mother.

    I think perhaps next time someone rudely comments I shall say, "indeed, I am very wealthy to have so many children and grandchildren." :)

  6. I have noticed since having #4 (boy 5, girl 3, boy 2, girl 2 months) most of the rude comments have subsided. I get a lot of questions, but I don't mind that. It is unusual to see a family with 4 kids in our town. I also get a lot of people saying what a beautiful family we have, and twice this week college aged kids have come up to us and said seeing us brought back happy memories of their own childhood. Maybe the rude people with intrusive "advice" figure I am beyond help at this point, ha, ha! I was very pleasantly surprised since I experienced so much negativity with #1-3.

  7. I just remember when I was pregnant with our 4 th daughter and this was 1988, that I would get the same comments. I did as you did....said positive things and basically tried to throw people off guard.

    So sad that life is unvalued.

  8. We're pregnant with our 4th boy. It irritates me when people at church, finding out we're having another boy, give me a sympathetic smile and say, 'oh well.' I've started to respond with, 'I've always hoped to have a priest in the family. God's increasing our odds!'

  9. Luckily I've never heard many negative remarks. Yes - sometimes people say "Wow, I could never do that!" or "Wow, you must be so busy!" But nothing mean-spirited or nasty.

    I just say, "It's not for everybody!"

    I have four. Which is a lot where I live. People sometimes ask if we're going to try for one more. I always just say, "We'll see what happens!" I'm really not invested in making it to a certain number of kids. I'm so happy with the ones I have, more would be a blessing (and yes, more work, of course) but if it doesn't happen we are perfectly content with what we've got.



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