“How many ounces is he eating?”

I should have seen this coming.  When I was pregnant (I used to be pregnant!), I quickly became aware that every woman who had ever given birth to a child would want to tell me exactly how she felt at the stage I was currently experiencing.  On a daily and sometimes hourly basis, I was expected to share the number of weeks along, weight gain to date, cravings and aversions, and of course how I was feeling over all.  Secondary questions included, “Do you have a name picked out?” and “Are you really wearing heels!?”  No, these shoes are an optical illusion.  I’m actually wearing loafers.

My outgoing personality overshadows the fact that I am actually a very private person.  No, I will not tell you how many pounds I’ve gained.  No, I will not disclose what bra cup size I am currently sporting.   No, I won’t tell you the name we’ve picked.  And NO, I will not utter the D or E words as my labor draws near.  I didn’t call my mom and tell her, so I’m certainly not going to talk centimeters and percentages while I’m photocopying vocabulary quizzes in the faculty lounge.  Alluding to the cervix outside of an OB/GYN’s office should be illegal.  I should be arrested for even typing it out in that last sentence.

So when the baby came, I thought, Sweet!  People can see him. The questions will answer themselves!  Wrong.  I didn’t know that other mothers would be so concerned with how much he weighs – both at birth and to the minute, how much he eats and if he ever fit into newborn clothing.  For the record: he did wear some NBs for a few weeks.  And no, he’s not sleeping through the night.

Maybe I’ll make cards to hand out on Parker’s behalf.  It will be like a rap sheet, except I can fill in the important baby deets: weight, ounces consumed, record number of hours slept at once and the current size clothing that he is spitting up and peeing on.   When he finally sleeps through the night, maybe I’ll get some bedazzled, sparkly gold cards to really spice things up.  He’ll have to wait though.  Everyone knows that flair has to be earned.

Of course these mothers also want to share and compare war stories.  I knew I was joining an elite club of women who had birthed children, but I didn’t know that it would sometimes become a game of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”  I guess I just always felt like my labor and delivery story would be mine.  Nobody needs to know the gory details, and certainly no one needs to one-up me to feel more powerful.  Maybe I’ll become more jaded as I have more children, but right now, I don’t feel the need to compare hours and whatnot.  We’ve all had the same basic experience, right?  Contractions.  More contractions.  More effing contractions.  Pushing.  Forgetting everything as soon as you hold that baby.  Some women skip a few steps.  Some have surgery, but overall, nobody can take away from your own story.  How idealistic of me, right?

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