When I got pregnant, I had very little experience being around pregnant people. As the eldest daughter of an eldest daughter, I’m the first in my family in this generation to have a baby, and none of my closest friends are married or have children yet. For someone who is an anxious wreck and hates doing new things, I’ve been pretty successful at always being the “first”—I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college and I even ended up with a graduate degree to really set a high bar for anyone to follow. And then I went and got pregnant with twins, which is a freak of nature—only 3% of live births are twins, and that stat includes pregnancies that resulted from fertility treatments, which increase your chance of multiples. So good luck to anyone who wants to one-up me! (Just kidding, it’s the Leo energy talking.)
The reason I preface this with my own story is that, even though some of what’s to follow is just common sense, I didn’t actually know any of it before I became the pregnant person in question. If I hadn’t been the first, I probably wouldn’t have known how to act, and I’m sure I would have made a lot of these missteps. I have made some of these missteps with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. So, partially for my own sake in the future and partially out of frustration over the past eight months of my own pregnancy, I have compiled a sort of Ten Commandments of respecting a pregnant person’s boundaries.
Don’t touch them without asking. Actually, don’t even ask to touch them. Probably just respect their personal space.
Don’t say things like “as long as the baby’s healthy” or “all that matters is a healthy baby.” This is ableist, stigmatizing, and shitty. Not every pregnant person is carrying a healthy baby, and that doesn’t invalidate their pregnancy. Don’t place a value judgment on a parent, or a person that hasn’t even been born yet.
Don’t comment on their size or appearance. I mean, if you really want to you can give a compliment like “you’re glowing!” but please keep it vague and positive. You never know what complications or conditions a person might have that prevents them from lining up with an arbitrary idea of what “7 months pregnant” is supposed to look like. A personal example—people are constantly telling me that I look tiny for having twins, or that I look “better” than other women who are carrying twins (this is rude as hell and an extremely shitty thing to say about my homies in the struggle). Meanwhile, I’m living in a private hell struggling with my work/life balance and poor appetite, worried that my lack of weight gain will adversely affect my babies.
Don’t pester them about when their OB appointments are or how they went. This is none of your business, no matter how close a relative you are. Only their labor support person or people need this information. You are not entitled to someone else’s private medical information. Your pregnant loved one will share what they want to share.
Don’t suggest baby names unless asked. And DON’T pressure them to share the baby’s name if they’ve expressed that they’re keeping it private until the birth. This, again, is none of your business. You don’t get to have input. The pregnant person made a human life with their damn body and they can name their kid whatever they want, with or without your approval.
Don’t come near them if you’re sick or unvaccinated. I don’t care if it’s the sniffles or “probably just allergies.” Pregnant people are immunocompromised and even minor illnesses can be dangerous for them or for baby. They also can’t take most over-the-counter medication, so if they do get sick, they’ll suffer more with symptoms. On this note: DO NOT COME NEAR THE BABY IF YOU’RE SICK OR UNVACCINATED. After my babies are born, my husband will be at our door with a clipboard checking your COVID vaccine card, making sure you’ve had your flu shot and TDAP, and providing masks and sanitizer. Babies don’t have immune systems and can’t get their vaccines right away. And whatever you do, even if you are healthy and sanitized—do NOT kiss the baby until after they get their 2-month shots and you’ve cleared it with the parents first.
Don’t question their parenting decisions. If you had a baby five, ten, or fifty years ago, the pediatric guidelines have changed. There’s new research every day, and the pregnant person in your life knows what they’re doing. Just because you put your baby in a crib with bumpers and they turned out fine doesn’t mean we have to do the same. Survivor bias is a real thing, and we’re not going to put our babies at risk of suffocation or SIDS just to make you feel better about your decisions.
For the love of God, don’t get weird about the baby’s gender. Don’t buy onesies that say things like “Stud” or “Ladies Man.” It is extremely gross to sexualize babies in this way. If you buy clothes with words on them, keep it as neutral as possible, like “Little Cutie.” All babies are little cuties. You can buy pink outfits with unicorns for girls and blue outfits with dinosaurs for boys (I get it, I’ve been in a Target recently), but don’t go over the top, and DON’T question a parent for dressing their child in something you don’t deem gender-appropriate. Like, a green sweater is a green sweater, regardless of what rack it was on in the store.
You don’t get to have an opinion about their birth. If they decide to schedule a c-section, or get an epidural, it is none of your business. And if the pregnant person in your life is open enough to share their birth story or birth plan, do NOT tell them what you would have done in their shoes or what you plan to do when you give birth (if you’re also pregnant, then maybe you can do the latter, if you can say it without sounding judgmental of the other person’s choices). Sometimes the way we give birth isn’t even our choice. You don’t know someone else’s medical history. For instance, I’m in good health and a great candidate for a twin vaginal delivery, but things can change on a dime and I could end up with a scheduled or emergency c-section. And if that’s my birth story, I will have ZERO regrets, as long as the outcome is two babies.
This one’s petty, but don’t buy them things that aren’t on the registry. Chances are, they did a lot of research and picked specific things for both their utility and their aesthetic, and getting them stuff they didn’t ask for and likely don’t need is a burden that fills their (probably) limited space with tons of baby crap they won’t know what to do with. And even if you do buy off the registry, include a gift receipt. Yes, you did the right thing, but someone who didn’t follow the rules might have given them a duplicate they can’t return.
I’m 24 weeks pregnant today, on the 24th! I feel like stuff like that never happens (or at least, not since I turned 19 on the 19th of August, 11 years ago). 24 weeks is a big milestone, since the babies are now considered viable (meaning that if something were to go horribly awry and they needed to be born now, they’d likely survive). That sounds kind of bleak, but it’s actually really comforting to me! For the first time in 6 months, I’m fairly confident that my little cantaloupes are going to be a-okay.
I’m also turning 30 in a few weeks and I’m actually really excited! I’m kind of amazed I even made it through my twenties. In a few months, my life will be unrecognizable. It’s a nice parallel—I was born in 1991 and my kids will be born in 2021, as my life enters a new stage.
Bowen Thee Yang has been nominated for an Emmy. The first featured player on SNL to ever be nominated. Bowen must be genuinely exhausted by all the history he has made at this point. I genuinely love every single actor who is nominated in his category (including Paul Reiser, though I have never seen The Kominsky Method), so however the voting goes, I’ll be happy. Bowen has been a shining light in my life for years and I love to see him get his flowers.
Ted Lasso season 2 premiered yesterday and my body is ready. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve fallen so head-over-heels for a new show. And to think I almost cancelled AppleTV+ right before I discovered it.
Madewell now has a Preloved shop! I knew they had a jean recycling program, but this is next-level. I’ll definitely be ordering (and then recycling) some maternity jeans because buying those new is expensive. I’ve kind of outgrown the Madewell aesthetic (there just isn’t a boho bone in my body, and boxy cuts don’t suit me), but I maintain that they have the best jeans in the game and I had missed wearing them!
My husband and I started watching McCartney 3,2,1on Hulu last night and it’s better than I could have imagined. It’s like it was tailor-made for my exact interests. I was thrilled to find out that “Michelle” was partially inspired by Edith Piaf’s “Milord,” one of my favorites! (La vie en rose came out while I was in high school, so I went through a big Little Sparrow phase).
On the subject of McCartney (my favorite subject!) Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen has not disappointed. I’ve been eating some meat because it’s calorie and protein-dense which is important during pregnancy, but I am feeling the pull back towards plant-based living. It’s just what makes the most sense for me and my family, but you do you!
Never Have I Ever season 2 is out! I absolutely love this show, which speaks to my eternal love for Mindy Kaling, since media about young people rarely interests me (ironic, considering I am currently manufacturing two young people). I Googled it and the actor who plays Paxton Hall-Yoshida is a few months older than I am (30) so it’s okay to think he’s ridiculously cute.
Bought these chairs for my dining table. We currently have a pub-height table with 2 stools that won’t work for us once the babies arrive. I’m going to pair them with a cheap-ish Ikea table and upgrade once we don’t have little Tasmanian Devils running around our house. I mentioned Detransition, Baby earlier, and there’s a moving passage about how once women enter their 30s, dining sets become very important to them…I’m sure it was a condemnation of sorts, but I deeply related to it.
Lately I can’t stop listening to The Kinks. I wonder if it has anything to do with the name we picked for our daughter…
Get pregnant, they said. It will be magical, they said.
I was lucky enough not to get morning sickness in the first trimester, just fatigue, but last week’s heat wave and humidity had me so sick that I was rueing the day I was born. Things are still touch-and-go, but I’ve started to feel them kick, so that kind of offsets how horribly pregnancy has been treating me recently. I’m officially 21 weeks today, and trying to figure out how I’m supposed to survive the next 15-17 weeks…
I’ve officially picked the babies’ first names, so I may do some sort of “reveal” on here (the closest I got to a “gender reveal” was posting a screenshot of my blood test results on Instagram stories accompanied by a gif of Homer Simpson screaming, so…)
As much as I may have previously been irritated by how myopic pregnant people become, how singularly focused on “the baby,” now that I’ve been there, I can attest that it is real. I think it has to be evolutionary, some sort of biological imperative to keep the fetus healthy by focusing ALL OF YOUR ATTENTION AND MENTAL/PHYSICAL ENERGY ON THE BABY. It’s all I can do to watch TV without also researching baby swing safety ratings. I’ve literally told my therapist that I’m exhausting myself with this, so I certainly don’t blame my friends or family for tuning me out for a while. I’m sure by this time next year, I’ll be begging for Sauvignon Blanc in an IV and a chance to be away from them for 5 minutes. One thing that’s really important to me is to not martyr myself in the process of becoming a mother. I’d like to remain myself, albeit with some small satellites orbiting me.
Ugh, enough about me. It’s been an insane couple of weeks, hasn’t it? Between the Olympics being racist, Britney’s statement on her conservatorship, Bill fucking Cosby going free, and Rand Paul sending out an email with a dog-whistle typo in it, it truly feels like we’re living in the darkest timeline. I’m glad about having a long weekend, but proclaiming “Happy 4th” seems hollow at best, if not entirely tone-deaf. So…just enjoy your long weekend if you’re lucky enough to have one. You deserve to rest.
After much research and no success finding something cheaper that I actually liked, I have purchased the stupidly expensive, aesthetic coffee maker. The other contender was this coffee maker from Drew Barrymore’s line, but the adorable green color was out of stock.
Excited to try this cheek and lip tint. I’m almost 30 and still haven’t really figured out how to wear makeup, so this kind of product is the only thing that will get me to wear blush. This one is my current favorite, but I have it in the color “Cherry Cosmos.”
This week on Las Culturistas, Matt and Bowen sang this song, correctly calling it “One of the best songs of all time, one of the most beautiful women of all time, one of the great films.” I can’t even explain how many times I’ve watched this movie.
I’m going to attempt to resist buying these, but these are THE most ’90s sandals ever. Everyone’s mom had sandals just like this. Giving me such Nine West vibes.
So, before I got pregnant, I considered myself to be very knowledgeable about pregnancy and birth. I’d read books, watched documentaries, listened to podcasts. I knew what an episiotomy is, and what the placenta does. But as it turns out, I am actually a big moron know-nothing of the Jon Snow school of ignorance. I went into pregnancy the same way I go into everything—with big Veruca Salt energy. I wanted the Golden Goose (to finally be a mom), and nothing was going to get in my way. I really thought that because I had strong opinions about Montessori toys, and because I had a pre-conception doctor’s appointment that confirmed me physically fit to breed, that I could “handle” pregnancy, newborn care, and parenting. For the rest of my life.
I’m reading the books and doing the work, but I definitely could have focused less of my energy on the process of getting pregnant (which for me apparently happens if I so much as make eye contact with my husband while I’m ovulating) and more energy on learning how to be pregnant, and the risks and challenges that come along with it. I didn’t factor in what it would feel like to sit in an office chair 8 hours a day, or what eating an extra 300-900 calories a day would actually entail. I didn’t consider how awkward it is to come up with a baby shower guest list, since you’re basically begging everyone you invite for either money or presents. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for the fact that it’s not a magical, earth goddess experience—it actually rather sucks and I’m definitely never doing it again. Here are some of the things (from the serious to the silly) that I wish I’d thought about before taking the plunge, although, let’s be real—even if I had known all of this, I’d still have made the same decision 100 times over.
It could be multiples. Even if they don’t run in your family, and even if you don’t undergo any fertility treatments, you could end up with twins, or even triplets (hello, This Is Us). I didn’t even consider twins to be a remote possibility—only 3% of live births are twins, and that can largely be attributed to the increase in IVF and other treatments. The chances of conceiving twins naturally is only about 0.004%. But 0.004% is not 0%. Before you slip on your sexy bra and pee on the ovulation strip, be sure to make peace with the fact that you could be getting more than you bargained for.
You have to pee constantly. I knew this about pregnancy, but I always thought it was something that happened later due to pressure on your bladder. Nope! Apparently, right from the get-go, the increase in progesterone makes you feel the urge to pee 1,000 times a day. It ebbs and flows (I’m about halfway through my pregnancy now and it’s not as bad as it was), but it’s incredibly inconvenient, especially, as I discovered, when you’re trying to spend the day lounging in the pool.
There is zero consistency in symptoms person-to-person or pregnancy-to-pregnancy. I was hardly sick a day, and everything I read said symptoms were especially horrendous with twins. I also never got that second trimester “boost” I was supposed to feel—I’m tired and uncomfortable all the time, since I have twice as much going on in there. I also still haven’t developed an appetite, even though everything I read, especially about multiples pregnancies, says you get hungry all the time after the morning sickness goes away. I’m only about 3 lbs. heavier than my average pre-pregnancy weight at 19 weeks. So, basically, there is no way to possibly prepare for being pregnant, other than becoming Buddha-level enlightened and being able to truly roll with the punches.
No one tells you…anything. This may vary widely; I’m sure that pregnant people seeing an MFM doctor or who have higher-risk pregnancies get more face time with medical professionals, but since I am, against all odds considering my utter disdain for exercise, healthy as a horse and the babies are thriving, my actual OB appointments are about three minutes long. I’m hoping that, as I progress, I get looped in about important things such as, “What do I do when I go into labor?” and “When the hell exactly am I supposed to have these babies?” Beyond that, since I’ve barely ever met a baby in my life, is someone going to teach me how to actually take care of a newborn? Is that what pediatricians are for? It seems wildly irresponsible and vaguely illegal that they’re just going to let me give birth to these children and then take them home without making me demonstrate any sort of competency at childrearing. It’s harder to adopt a dog, much less a human child.
Maternity clothes are boring. I was actually kind of excited about buying maternity clothes before I got pregnant, but the actual experience has been a total downer. Basics, like long tank tops, are affordable and can definitely be worn after pregnancy, but anything that even approximates stylishness is pricey, and in my opinion, it’s insane to spend money on things with a limited sartorial shelf life. My advice, especially to women not having multiples, is to take advantage of the existing flowy/stretchy stuff in your wardrobe and do your best to skip maternity clothes altogether. Since I’m going to be enormous, I can’t avoid it, but I’m trying to stick to things that I can wear for at least the first year postpartum.
Pregnancy is essentially a temporary disability. I’m very fortunate to be a healthy and able-bodied person, so never in my life have I felt more empathy for differently-abled people than during pregnancy. I knew I couldn’t lift anything over 25 lbs., but I didn’t exactly do the math on how that would impact things as basic as grocery shopping. I also run out of energy performing simple tasks like folding laundry, and my center of gravity is already starting to shift, so I constantly have to be careful not to trip or run into things (I’ve always been a fairly long-limbed clumsy person covered in bruises). Low-impact movement/exercise is really encouraged during pregnancy, but I’m so uncomfortable all of the time that the thought of going on a walk or doing downward dog makes me want to simultaneously laugh and cry.
Nothing is pregnancy safe. This one makes me roll my eyes a tiny bit, since even in recent history, people didn’t have access to fancy prenatal vitamins or, for my husband’s grandparents, even modern conveniences like electricity or running water, and they’ve been having perfectly healthy babies. But since I do have access to all of the wonders of 21st century living, I thought it appropriate to do my best to make my body a temple for my babies (minus the cheesecake kick I’ve been on). My one desert-island, can’t-live-without-it product is lipstick, specifically of the matte liquid variety, and guess what? Makeup is basically poison! If you do enough research, even some products marketed to pregnant women aren’t even pregnancy-safe! If I actually wanted to be a perfect pregnant person, I’d basically have to move in with the Bubble Boy. I’m doing my best (I switched to this lipstick), but they say a healthy mom is a healthy baby, and if I couldn’t periodically dye my greys, I would be mentally unwell.
I’m still early enough in this journey that the true trials and tribulations haven’t even begun, so I’m sure I’ll be back with another installment. But let me just say, that people who go through more than one pregnancy, especially those that are pregnant and also caring for young children, are braver than the goddamn Marines, and I salute them.