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What to expect from others.. when you’re expecting

11 Feb

When I fell pregnant, I found it quite hard to tell people the news. It’s not really something that comes up naturally in conversation. It’s also very personal. It’s proof that you’ve been ‘doing it’. So – do you just blurt it out at the start of a chat? Do you wait till an awkward silence in the converation and use it as a gap filler? Do you try and subtly steer the chat towards children – and then drop it in casually? After a while I began to dread it for another reason – the avalanche of unsolicited advice it would provoke.
Even people without children were telling me what to expect. Announcing a pregnancy generally follows a pattern. You say you’re pregnant. Your friend responds with congratulations, and without pausing for breath, starts spewing out advice and stories. Mainly horror stories. About excruciating births, sleepless nights, never having any ‘me’ time. People seem to revel in trying to scare you about the downsides of parenting. Which is funny. Because I’m yet to hear anyone say they’ve regretted having a child. Anyway, one of my favourite, most useless bits of advice was ‘Well, you’d better get lots of sleep now, because you won’t get any when the baby comes!’ Brilliant. I will sleep for the next six months straight. And then, I won’t have to sleep at all for the first six months of my baby’s life! The other common one was. ‘Well, you’re life is really going to change.’ Really? You mean the baby won’t want to come nightclubbing? In the end, I found the easiest way to tell people was to show them an image of our baby taken from the first ultrasound. Our tiny, precious, 2.5cm little being. It kind of said it all. As for the advice – I smiled and swallowed it. I knew it was well meant. And among the inanities were some genuine gems of wisdom. Like the comment that it would be ‘the best thing you ever do.’ They were right.