Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
First-time parents often have a lot of questions. During my first pregnancy, I googled everything. "Is this lump in my armpit, or cancer?" (Probably not. Most likely it's an engorged milk duct). "Is excessive ear wax production a symptom of pregnancy?" (Yes, grossly, it is. #themoreyouknow). "Is it normal for my vulva to get this swollen?" (OK, for that one I called the emergency on-call doctor. The answer, in case you were wondering, was yes). "Is that the baby moving, or just gas?" (Depends). "Am I dying or just pregnant?" (Just pregnant.)
One obstetrician decided to deal with all those pesky pregnancy FAQs by making a resource for patients to read while waiting for their appointment. You know, to cut down on all that googling and self-diagnosis. The results are unexpectedly hilarious.
This OB pulls no punches, especially when it comes to advice for the partners of the pregnant person (though we kind of wish they hadn't assumed that the person pregnant was a woman and that the couple expecting the child together would be married).
The sign answers questions such as: I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move? With any luck, right after he finishes college. And Should I have a baby after 35? No, 35 children is enough. My personal favorite is the answer to the question My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right? Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.
True story: I was in so much pain during labor that I was puking. After nine hours, even with an epidural, I cried because I didn't think I could handle it any longer. Happily, they upped my pain meds and I successfully endured another eight hours!
The good doctor pulls no punches when addressing the partners of their patients. Question: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that she's borderline irrational. Answer: So what's your question? Question: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor? Answer: Not unless the word "alimony" means anything to you. Question: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again? When the kids are in college.
I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions about pregnancy and childbirth and childrearing: that somehow, the person who gave birth magically goes back to who they were before. In my experience, that's just not true. While I was pregnant, I had a complete and total meltdown about my husband eating leftovers I had in the fridge (like, threw myself on the floor sobbing, wailing, screaming). Now I have a three-year-old and a six-month-old and nothing is the same as it was. My moods aren't predictable, my body feels foreign, and I often recoil from my partner's touch for reasons that have nothing to do with him.
Even though these questions were written in a lighthearted way, the truth behind them is real and necessary. Yes, many of us are anxious and worried about things we're experiencing, and that's normal and okay. But many of us (and our partners, if we have them) may also have unrealistic expectations of when our lives will go back to "normal." But the truth is, it won't, and if it does, it won't be for a very long time. It's a "new normal," and one that both parents have to accept and adjust to.
Many a truth is said in jest, something this OB knows all too well.