By Khara Koffel
Trust me, I value different opinions. I love that we all have different views, different experiences, different preferences and different hatreds. I love that you may think sauerkraut is the greatest food you have ever eaten and you would eat it every day for the rest of your life and be perfectly content, but I won’t even allow it in my house because I loathe it so much. I prefer the beach but I love that you enjoy the mountains and I love that we can all live together in relative peace and be friends and enjoy the sunsets, because who dislikes those?
That being said, can’t we all just agree to keep our opinions about how pregnancy and parenthood is to ourselves, especially when it comes to showering new parents with horror stories of impending doom?
Nearly three years ago, my husband and I discovered that we were part of the parents-to-be club. I feel no shame in saying that I was petrified; I feared being responsible for a very tiny, vulnerable human, I feared that I would cease to be myself in favor of turning into some sort of Mom-robot and I feared that the life I had cultivated and loved would dissolve away into a puddle of exhausted tears and baby lotion. Because of this anxiety, I was hesitant to tell anyone about my pregnancy until, months later, I had finally wrapped my head around it thanks to some amazing friends, doctors, counselors and physical trainers.
When I was finally able to take a deep breath, announce my pregnancy and embrace our new future together, I found myself surrounded by love and friendship, but also the little black cloud of society that likes to greet your blessed news with stories of raging sickness, sleepless nights and diaper rash that lasted for DECADES. Sure, the negative nancys were the minority, but there was more of them than you would ever want to believe there would be. Had I been someone who was easily influenced, within a week I would have stated that this new little bundle of life would never sleep, have raging allergies to every food on the planet, eventually cause me to gain 89 pounds that just wouldn’t leave, force me to live in old teeshirts and sweatpants for the rest of my life because I wouldn’t be able to afford clothes of my own and somehow suck any information, hobby, fact or specialty that I acquired during my pre-baby 34 years out of my body and leave me a shell of a human driving a mini-van.
New parents-to-be, I come to you bearing great news! Pregnancy was not so bad, neither was labor, my child sleeps most of the time, and, sure, he’s lactose intolerant, but he loves chicken fried rice and peas. We spend some great quality time at the gym so my husband and I are stronger than ever, and my little guy, Jones, has a bunch of people that love and care for him at our gym every morning so he pretty much has a great day even before he gets to day care, which he also loves. When he was 3 months old, the three of us drove to Pennsylvania to see our families for Christmas and had a wonderful time, even if Jones did have to stretch his legs while lying on a table in a Starbucks. I’m still a professor and I still love my job, and get this, I’ve also rediscovered that play-doh smells wonderful, that strolling through a zoo is amazing and that sometimes sitting on a swing and babbling about firetrucks that scream past is pretty much the best way to spend a day. Sure, there are nights when he wakes up screaming from a stomach-ache and I don’t get the sleep I want. There are days when he gleefully tosses eggs on the walls or hits a playmate and I secretly pine – if only just for a second – for my old life of loud music, spontaneous travel and unencumbered trips to the grocery store, but you know what? Last week, Jones told me he was an astronaut and I almost died from joy, so it’s all even in the end.
I am far from an expert on any of this parenting stuff, I assure you. But, like any functioning human of our day and age, my husband and I have a working knowledge of the internet and lovely family and friends, so we’ve had a great time with this adventure and you will, too. Your pregnancy is your pregnancy. Your child is yours, your future is yours, your life is yours, so don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you how it will be. Be yourself, be kind, do great things and everything is going to be fine, including that baby and your new little beautiful family.
And when the going gets tough, smell that Play-Doh. There’s nothing like it, I promise.