Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pardon us; it's just your haircut that makes you look old.

Yesterday, after several failed attempts, I finally made it to Shoppers Drug Mart to mail out the last of my thank-you cards and send back the size “6 month” NY Giants hat I ordered for Sam (apparently my four month old has the head of a 12 month old). As we were walking through the store, Isla kept anxiously saying “Mommy there’s a boy following me”. In the span of about two minutes she must have said it at least 6 times. “The boy” she was loudly referring to was in fact a lady. Visibly annoyed, this lady corrected my daughter and exclaimed “I’m a GIRL and I’m NOT following you”. Isla was not buying it. With her little nose crinkled, she then basically implied this lady was a liar and said “no, you’re a boy”. To make things even more awkward, this conversation took place with Isla peeking out from her hiding spot behind my legs. It was then we discovered that this lady was on her way to the post office as well and, naturally, would take the place in line behind us; thus confirming Isla’s suspicion that she was being followed.

I’m sure every parent has had these embarrassing and awkward moments as a result of their toddler. While I could see the humour in this situation, I was surprised at this woman’s reaction. In Isla’s defence, she did kinda look like a boy. It didn’t help that she had on a big, square coat and weird little beanie. Honestly, if you ask me, she could have gone either way; but that’s beside the point. What I thought was strange was the look this woman gave me while repeatedly insisting that she wasn’t a boy. It was as if she was telepathically saying “she’s your daughter – shut her up!”  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to the absent filter of a two-year-old, there’s not much that can be done aside from inadvertently creating an even bigger spectacle.

Kids say ridiculous things; sometimes embarrassing, sometimes awkward, often times endearing. I think it’s unfair for society to place a responsibility on the parents to somehow sensor the perception of their small children. Of course teaching them manners and self-awareness takes time, patience, and the acceptance that you will sometimes have those mortifying moments when your barely two year old calls the woman at the bank (far too young to be a grandmother) ‘Nana’. That was Isla’s favourite thing to do when she was learning to talk. Unfortunately my ability to perform damage-control has always been lacking and after a few seconds of nervous laughter I would always say something stupid like “oh, it’s probably just your haircut”. Yep, that's right, best course of action when a person suddenly feels insecure about their appearance is to find a way to insult their haircut. Write that down.

Experiencing cringe-worthy moments on behalf of your innocent children is all part of being a parent. If I had some good advice on how to handle it, now would be a good time to offer it to you. Unfortunately all I can say is that you’re not alone. I imagine one thing you can do is to hope the person victim or witness to the words of your toddler realizes that it’s silly to be offended by them. What I can suggest is that you go home and write it down because, looking back, it will one day be hilarious (if it’s not already).

Isla once insisted the bearded man sitting at the table next to us at Cora’s was Santa. She literally wouldn’t drop it. I’m sure the poor man trying to enjoy his breakfast thought it was cute at first, but enough’s enough. That’s kids for you though; they just say whatever is on their minds. Come to think of it, I know a lot of adults who suffer from the same affliction. Maybe it’s a lack of self-awareness that prevents one from outgrowing this stage. Regardless, the only time you can really get away with not having a filter is when you’re too young to know any better. After a certain age I think you evolve into plain and simple ignorance. And really, while many often blame the fact that they “don’t have a filter” when they say something stupid; unless they’re two, it’s a terrible excuse.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Desperation is a stinky cologne - and I like it!

I don’t know if it’s because I have a daughter or if it’s because I’m a woman, but the TV show The Bachelor makes me uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, much like the car-wreck analogy, I can’t seem to look away. I know editing has a lot to do with how the ‘contestants’ (I’m not sure what else to call them) come across, but I can’t help but shake my head at the amount of available footage they have to work with. My husband and I actually share in this guilty pleasure; though it took him a few seasons to actually tune in and realize what I’ve been saying since it first aired: The Bachelor is a comedy! I think that’s the problem; no one really knows how to take it. Many of my friends have expressed to me that they just “can’t” when it comes to that show. They list the obvious reasons including the terrible premise, the irritating, over-used “will you accept this rose” question, and basically the overall cheese-factor. I get it, really I do. I think the problem is those who hate this show might be taking it all a bit too seriously. Incidentally many of these friends who can’t bring themselves to watch spend their entire week eagerly anticipating “Jersday”.

 Ask yourself this: Why is Jersey Shore so popular? I’m sure everyone would conclude that it’s because it’s absurd. If you were to compare the two shows, the only variation is that there’s actually more fighting on The Bachelor. Also I’m sure anyone would agree that a bunch of women desperate and crazy enough to go on that show in the first place; at each other’s throats and pulling out ALL of the crazy, is much more entertaining than watching a bunch of self-proclaimed “guidos” GTL. Just saying. By the way, before you assume I’m a hypocrite and like only one of the two shows, I happen to enjoy both equally. Basically I don’t discriminate when it comes to mindless entertainment.

Out of curiosity I did an online search to find out how much time these women actually spend with their ‘Prince Charming”. I mostly just found articles/blogs encouraging women to hate the show based on what are pretty obvious reasons. All of which happen to be the reasons why I watch it. Is it mean if I say that I like watching a bunch of lunatic women fight over a man they hardly know, a man they wouldn’t look twice at in an ordinary setting, all while being followed around by a bunch of cameras? The fact that cameras are in their faces on these “dates” is hilarious in itself. Imagine being on a first date and having some (presumable) riff-raff camera-crew perched up on the side of the hot tub you’re making out in (HA!). I always picture the sound guy with his little headphones on holding that giant sound-boom over their heads. No, that wouldn’t be awkward at all. As terrific and entertaining as all of that is, the icing on the cake is that they’ve managed to make it even better by allowing these women to combine their personality disorders with copious amounts of alcohol. Man, this is TV at its finest.

Who wants normalcy in their television shows? I’m so tired of everyone’s muppet-critic commentary. In my opinion, the whole point of TV is to be preposterous, mind-numbing, entertainment. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a paramedic and I sometimes feel the need to offset the extra dose of reality that comes with my job with a silly TV show. Basically I feel that we live in real life. Do you really want to come home and watch more real life? Oh hurray! Loved that episode last night about another mom with unwashed hair marinating a pork tenderloin. That part where she had to answer the phone and do a load of laundry really hit close to home. Spot on. Fascinating stuff!

Alright, so maybe that’s a little far off but seriously, if not for people doing open-heart surgery in elevators, the world being taken over by sexy aliens, or a bunch of crazy, drunken, desperate women sobbing over Mr. Awkward; I probably wouldn’t have cable.
Now going back to the original statement I made about this show making me uncomfortable. Yes, I suppose the depiction of women could be viewed as offensive, especially to those who generally take life too seriously. What I find particularly bothersome is the fact that I have a daughter; which reminds me that these women have parents. How awful for their poor fathers to have to sit through a two-hour episode, week after week, and watch their beautiful and (sometimes) successful daughters literally throw themselves at a man. One of the women from this season is a Ph.D. student for goodness sake. Not that I’m implying education coincides with rationality, but one might typically assume that women of that calibre are out of place in the world of reality TV romance.  Or maybe, on a slightly darker note, it was their “Daddy-issues” which landed them on this show in the first place. Something has to be wrong with you to think that after a few weeks of ‘group-dates’ you’re ready to be publicly engaged. I guess Chris Rock said it best (of course this is slightly out of context): If your daughter is falling all over herself on The Bachelor, you F#%ked up! 

If you happen to be a ‘hater’ of this show, I wonder if going into it knowing that it’s a comedy would change your outlook. If you can’t get past the premise, try picturing the sound-guy. If you don’t think that’s funny, then I guess when it comes to comedy television we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

If you need me, I'll be in my PH

Since most of the people who read my blog are friends or family (ha! let’s be honest, at the moment ALL of the people who read my blog are either friends or family), I was fortunate enough to receive some second-hand feedback. My good friend, incidentally the one who first convinced me to start writing, mentioned that her partner that night (to be clear, I’m talking about paramedics on a night shift) was explaining how nice it is to be able to speak honestly about the challenges of being a mother. I guess she agreed with an earlier entry I had written about how it seems like everyone is involved in some kind of competition. It’s like no matter how hard you try, you will always be made to feel like you’re not quite as put together as so-and-so down the street, who happens to make everything look easy.

Really, what it comes down to is perception. When you arrive at someone’s house for a visit and think to yourself “wow, I wish my house were this clean and organized”, you really have no idea (and there’s no way of knowing) what this same house looked like 20 minutes ago as they were running around like a half-dressed lunatic in preparation for your arrival. Just the same, you have no idea that they may have spent five whole minutes screaming into a towel in the powder room because they simply couldn’t find a better outlet after losing a battle of wits with their toddler. The point is, we all have bad days and good days (even the perceived supermoms).

There are some days I actually can bake a banana bread from scratch, put together an entire Disney princess puzzle (I really hate puzzles), take my poor, overly-energetic (to no fault of her own) boxer to the park, steam clean the entire main-floor (if you don’t yet own a steam-cleaner, you are missing out on a world of awesomeness) and make the world’s best lasagne.  All with a smile on my face (maybe a smile that suggests I’m bordering on crazy, but a smile nonetheless). Those are the days that I feel like I’m on top of the world. It usually takes several coffees and, if I’m lucky, a really short shower while Isla is plugged into some God-awful show on Treehouse (speaking of which, am I the only one who wants to slap the cartoon face right off of that whiney little brat, Caillou?). On these particular days I wish I could bottle my energy and ration it out.

 That’s an example of a good day; a day that I would be more than happy for one of those “I was just in the neighbourhood” drop-in visits. Alternatively there are the other days, which unfortunately happen far more frequently than my ‘supermom’ days. It’s these days that I’m most likely to actually have someone stop by to say hello, and also accidentally have a boob out when I answer the door (Murphy’s Law). Let’s call these days ‘regular days’ (I’m choosing not to refer to them as ‘bad days’ because they’re not at all bad; they’re just ordinary). On those days, in spite of my efforts to catch up with the laundry “situation”, I always fail miserably. In my defence, it’s simply not possible to keep up when the laundry entering the room is twice that of the laundry leaving. I also feel, and this is entirely my opinion, that it’s both unfair and unrealistic to expect that after washing and folding the laundry that I then also have to put it away. What am I, some kind of machine? Speaking of laundry, the room once known simply as the “laundry room” is now referred to as my personal hell or “PH”. I don’t know if it’s Huggies fault, or maybe my little thanksgiving-turkey of a son is just too big for the bulk size 2’s I bought him (thank goodness for Costco), but every single time Sam fills his diaper, he also happens to fill his pants, onesie, and my lap (this is the main reason for owning four pairs of lulu lemon pants). The first couple of times this happens in a day aren’t so bad. I’m actually used to it, and have a pretty effective little system in place. It’s when, for the eleventh time, immediately after changing him into his last clean outfit, he gets that look in his eye, followed by sounds comparable to that of an earthquake; that’s when it starts to wear on me a bit.  And just like that I’m back in my ‘PH’, scrubbing like a maniac in the set-tub. For the record, I’ve tried many different stain-fighters all promising miracles short of solving world hunger. Truth be told, and surprising as you may find this, the best thing for scrubbing baby poop is a bar of ivory soap (you’re welcome).

Again, I digress. Most days are the like this, hence calling them ‘regular days’. There’s Roxy (the aforementioned boxer) with her sad eyes and hyper little nubbin of a tail ready to wag right off of her body, begging me for a walk but knowing full well that she’ll have to wait for Daddy to get home. Still the guilt I’m faced with for not taking her when “all the other neighbourhood dogs are out for a walk” (the quotations represent her telepathic guilt trip), totally sucks to say the very least.  Usually on these days we don’t get dressed. Not only that, I’m lucky if I’m able to find a clean bra (which is a must because my boobs are really big….not “nice-big”, more like “scary-big”). I will give myself a bit of a break and mention that even on these days, one thing I always manage to do is make what I think is the world’s best dinner. Ok, so maybe not the best dinner in the world per say, but pretty damn tasty. I’m able to do that because if not for the relaxing and fulfilling experience of cooking, I might spend a lot more than five minutes screaming into a towel. Pretty hilarious, I know, but it works. Everyone has a little steam they need to blow off every now and then. Since I can’t quite “bring it” at the gym because of a back-injury (thanks to my brilliant career choice, but that’s another topic altogether), I have to take what I can get when it comes to energy outlets. So a few little towel-screams here and there, for now, will just have to suffice.

While I’ve only provided you with a few examples of an ordinary day and its respective chaos, I’m sure you get the idea. It’s these days that you probably wouldn’t recognize me because I literally look like Bride of Frankenstein’s ugly sister. Alright, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say about myself, let’s instead say Bride of Frankenstein’s slightly more attractive cousin. Turns out, in my imagination she has a big family to work with. Anyway, the point of this rare insight into the life of a Mom (a real Mom), is to shed light on the fact that being a Mother is not only the best job in the world, it’s also the hardest. That’s why I think that instead of acting like we’re all contestants on the ‘who is the better parent’ hidden-camera TV show, we should just give ourselves a break and accept that we all have good and bad days. No one is perfect and there is absolutely no contest! A good friend of mine dreads going to her Mommy group because of how the other mothers inadvertently (as I’m sure it’s not intentional), through this sense of competition, make her feel inadequate. I think ultimately it’s important to remember that there will always be the perception that other people are perfect. It would be nice if those who feel the pressure to be awesome all of the time would just realize that they don’t have to work so hard to impress those around them (before you read too far into this please know I’m absolutely not referring to anyone in particular).  If you happen to be someone who can relate, hopefully you take some comfort in knowing that I will no longer run around like a mental-case 10 minutes before company arrives. If my house happens to be messy, my guests can just deal with it. Friends and family don’t come to see the house, they come to see you. This pressure moms feel is both unfortunate and unnecessary and a lot of it can be alleviated with a little bit of realism, especially from other mothers. I think as long as your kids are warm, fed and, most importantly, loved; you’re doing a great job. Trust me; in spite of the fact that most days are the ‘regular days’ I talked about, in the midst of the chaos I still manage to high-five myself for having such wonderful kids.

Friday, 10 February 2012


A co-worker of mine was recently thrilled to find out that he and his fiancée are expecting is a boy. We chatted the night before about the excitement and anticipation of the moment his child would have an identity. Not to take from his enthusiasm, I asked if he was given a hard time by those who believe finding out the gender of ones baby is ‘cheating’. He agreed that there appears to be a clear line dividing the two schools of thought; those who wouldn’t find out in a million years, and those who insist on knowing. I suppose there is a third category made up of people who just go with the flow and seem to be accepting of both options. This is my favourite group, and also significantly less substantial than the other two.
I subscribe to the second category of parents. Not only do I like to be prepared, but I couldn’t fathom resisting the temptation of not finding out who is in there for the entirety of those long 40 weeks. Not only that, I truly enjoyed the countdown to the date of the ultrasound and I found it just as exciting as the anticipation of our due date. I remember my little pep-talks in the car on the way to the appointment; begging the baby to cooperate and to please, please not keep us in the dark for another four months. I remember lying on that uncomfortable table, trying to crane my neck around and make sense of the images on the screen I could barely see. All the time wondering two things as I was being poked and prodded with the ultrasound ‘thingy’; if we would leave knowing my baby’s name (because, prepared as always, both kids were named long before their birth), and whether or not my bladder would literally explode. Seriously, after not being allowed to pee for hours (while pregnant), we’re then expected to pee “for 10 seconds” because said bladder is now TOO full? Seriously?? Once again, I digress. Completely off topic, my bad.

 Back to the social divide.  I found that during both pregnancies that when discussing my reasons for finding out with those who would never do such a thing, I was often made to feel like I wasn’t playing by the rules. I remember when I was pregnant with Isla people would ask me if I knew the baby’s gender and then sigh with disappointment and say something like “oh, you found out?” when I told them we were having a girl. I eventually became a little defensive about it; as if I had to explain myself each time. So I would present my list of reasons, which ultimately ended up sounding like an over-rehearsed monologue. Basically I would explain that I wanted to have an appropriately themed nursery (of course I’m not saying that the alternative is inappropriate – I just really hoped to create a girlie room for a baby girl). I would then go on to say that I wanted to start calling the baby by name, which supposedly gives the bonding process a jump-start. I also wanted to have more colour options in her wardrobe (as I happen to not be a fan of green OR yellow). Then last but not least, and probably the strongest reason of all, Mike and I simply could not wait. Of course, with that said, it’s important to get a sense of what kind of people we are. When Mike proposed he warned me the glue might not be completely set on the ring and to make sure I kept a close eye on the diamond. He and I, clearly cut from the same cloth, are just incapable of being patient when it comes to surprises. So naturally, waiting just wasn’t an option for us. I applaud those who are able to endure the mystery; the magnitude of will power is impressive to say the least.  So, regarding the disappointment I was faced with each time I told someone that there was no need for guessing because we already knew the sex, there it was – my list of reasons for finding out. I felt as if I was starting to sound like a tape-recorder.

I’m going to go out on a limb here when I say that it seems people who choose to embrace the mystery don’t have to undergo the same criticism. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone having to defend their reasons for waiting. Why can’t we all just agree to disagree? I mean, I don’t feel the need to impose my belief system on those who choose to wait for the big “surprise”. My need for quotations on the word surprise is because I disagree with the implication that those who choose to find out miss out on the ‘big moment’ in the delivery room.  Personally, each time I found out the gender of the baby I was carrying, I was very surprised. It was as if I got to experience two surprises; the day I found out the identity of my little peanut, and the day I got to meet them. I’ve always said the moment that little baby (or in my case big baby) comes screaming into the world is so powerful and overwhelming that their gender is virtually irrelevant. In spite of knowing not only the sex, but also the names of my babies before actually meeting them, I was still quite surprised the moments they were born. You essentially walk in without a baby and suddenly there is one in your arms, looking up at you as if to say “so you’re my Mom”. Surprise!

I remember accidentally (on purpose) eavesdropping on a conversation at a maternity store. The mom-to-be was explaining to the cashier how since there are so few true surprises left in life; she didn’t want to ruin this one by finding out if she was having a boy or girl. As the cashier was agreeing with this philosophy, I just couldn’t help myself and had to interject (for some reason I found this conversation especially irritating– thanks again, hormones). I basically said that I was surprised too – just at what I thought was a more appropriate time. Maybe it was an inappropriate thing for me to do, but I’m sick of everyone acting like it’s some kind of faux pas to not have to refer to your baby as “it” for 10 months. That sounded more like a dig towards the opposing group than I had intended. Honestly, whatever a person decides is their choice and I think we should all be more supportive and less opinionative. Much like baby names, we have no right to be critical when it comes to what parents have decided for their children. These are very personal decisions and they should be respected.

Since the baby-naming subject has come up, I can’t conclude without mentioning this one thing:  if someone shares a name with you, awful as you may find it, it’s probably just best to keep that to yourself. Obviously a lot of consideration went into this decision. It’s simply bad form to ruin it with a story about how you once new an A-hole by that name and now, by association, you don’t like it. As I’m sure your Nan would probably say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. And think about it this way; if we all liked the same names, we would all have the same names.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

You know what? You're NOT welcome!

Have you noticed lately that it seems manners are a thing of the past? One of my biggest pet peeves, to date, is the collective rudeness of society. What’s worse is that the blatant disregard of social etiquette seems to be hereditary. When that person walks through the door you’ve been holding for them without saying ‘thank you’, chances are that their child in tow, whom you would assume is old enough to acknowledge a good deed, will also walk through and say nothing. To those people I usually utter “you’re welcome”, which isn’t worth it because if they do turn around to shoot me a dirty look, it’s only a fraction of the time. Mostly they just keep on walking and I find myself wondering what has happened to people, and when did basic manners become so rare. I’ve always said that, without a doubt, my kids will be raised knowing the importance of politeness. What I didn’t expect is this simple practice, which is obviously a learned behaviour, will undoubtedly result in my children becoming minorities. I can’t help but picture the next generation forming a society of Neanderthals, grunting at each other in lieu of please, thank you, and may I. I know that’s a really dramatic way of looking at it, but it is truly disconcerting to imagine a culture of impoliteness.

One thing I’ve always found to be particularly annoying were those who simply answer “good” or “fine” when asked how they are doing. You know what? Scratch that, annoying isn’t a good enough word to use. It grates my nerves when these people, mouth-breathing into the phone, don’t have the decency to ask in return how I am. Since we’re being real I'll tell you right now, I’m not actually asking because I need to know how this person’s day is going. I will likely never talk to them again so really it makes no difference to me whether or not they’re doing well. I ask because it sets the tone to the conversation and is basically acknowledging that the faceless individual who is about to transfer my call is actually a person and deserves a little bit of respect. I ask because it’s polite. While the majority of communication with strangers is all business, it’s nice to know that by asking “how are you” the element of humanity, often missing, is somewhat maintained. Those who fail to return said question in a face-to-face setting is an interesting breed altogether (I say interesting because I’m being polite). Last week while shopping I conducted a little self-indulgent social study. I asked every salesperson I happened upon how they were doing. Of twelve, only three bothered to return the question. The rest answered, and then offered me a chilly stare which basically said “now what the hell do you want?” Apparently the older I get the less I care about how I come across (ok, so not the most mature of acquired traits) and to those people I said “OK………..” We then participated in a slightly longer than necessary staring contest. Instead of creating awareness of their lack of manners, which I suppose was the whole point of my little experiment, I ended up just sharing several very awkward and seemingly pointless moments with otherwise clueless sales staff. I wish I had the audacity to say something snide like “yeah, I’m fine too – thanks!”, but I probably would have felt bad for making them feel bad. Chalk it up to my manners, I guess. Maybe I need to clock a few more years before my filter is worn thin enough to get away with something like that and not feel guilty afterwards. At this point all I can do is educate my kids and hope that some of it sticks.

Friday, 3 February 2012

What do you mean I look pregnant from the back?

Last night I was visiting a good friend whose daughter was born days after my Sam. She was telling me that on more than one occasion, while shopping, she was approached by various slack-jawed shoppers and asked when her baby was due. She was unfortunately put in the position I’m sure many of us Moms dread and had to explain that her baby was born…months ago. I can’t imagine it takes a genius to understand that achieving ones pre-pregnancy shape does not happen overnight. First of all, it takes time for a uterus to shrink back to size. Women look about five months pregnant for some time after giving birth. Another friend of mine was understandably annoyed at having to explain to the grandfather of her baby that yes, it’s normal to still look pregnant after giving birth. This conversation occurred in the hospital just hours after delivering her daughter. Really? Do you actually think that that enormous belly was literally ALL baby? Really? Open your minds, people! These things take time. Furthermore, Mothers (especially those who have more than one child) typically have to decide between eating, showering, cleaning the horrifying disaster that once passed for a living space, and sleeping. Not only can you not have it all, you usually can’t have more than one of those things per day. I can only speak for myself but if given the choice, sleep will always win. Since that’s not entirely realistic given my current situation, second place goes to eating. This usually means 3-4 bites of greek yogurt while breastfeeding which, incidentally, is one of the only times I have a chance to sit down. Now don’t get me wrong, in no way am I complaining because, as mentioned in a previous blog entry, maternity leave is pretty fantastic. So going back to the issue of baby weight, vigorous workouts simply just have to get in line with everything else. They say it takes nine months to grow and another 9 months to shrink. I tend to disagree, but at least it buys us more time than how ever long it takes us to push the baby out.

 Now, with all of that said, I have to take this opportunity to grant those with an apparent lack of self awareness, some invaluable insight. Here goes: Unless a woman is literally giving birth before your eyes and you see a baby emerging from her body, do not assume she is pregnant. Even then, ridiculous as it may seem, I would probably just wait until she brings it up. This advice will save you, not to mention countless women, the embarrassing, awkward and (in her case) crushing moments which would most definitely follow your dim-witted and inappropriate observation. All of that aside, on a more serious note, consider the possibility that perhaps this person has always wanted children but was unable to conceive and/or carry a child. It’s like asking someone “when are YOU going to have children”. I’m guilty of this one myself. It’s a seemingly innocent question that every couple in a serious relationship is faced with at one time or another. However, having known a few couples who have gone through the devastating loss of a pregnancy, asking them what you perceive to be a harmless question could be exposing a flurry of emotions that they can’t, and shouldn’t have to, share.

So, while we’re on the topic of pregnancy, I feel inclined to enlighten you with appropriate things to say to someone you know who is expecting a baby:

  1. You look beautiful!
  2. You don’t look pregnant from the back whatsoever! (I was actually told I looked very pregnant from the back during my first pregnancy. That person then went on to tell me that when his wife was pregnant you could only tell when she turned sideways. Yeah thanks, a-hole.)
  3. You’re all belly!
  4. Pregnancy agrees with you!

I’m sure you get the drift and I don’t need to elaborate any further. I feel the next list goes without saying but I will present you with the things you should absolutely NOT say to a pregnant woman. Ever. All of these things were said to me during one or both pregnancies.

  1. Wow, you’re getting so big!
  2. Hey, fatty!
  3. Are you sure it isn’t twins?
  4. You look swollen, especially in your face.
  5. How much have you gained?
  6. Wow – you’re only 6 months pregnant? You’re HUGE!
  7. You look really tired (this goes for all women, not just the pregnant variety. It’s basically saying “you look like crap”. Before you argue this point in your head, show me someone who looks both tired and good at the same time. Impossible. I have always found this especially upsetting because I’m usually told I look tired after a great sleep).
  8. Are you going to eat ALL of that?
  9. Wow! I almost didn’t recognize you!

I’m sure there are many, many more things you should not say but, quite frankly, who has time to read them all? I know when I was pregnant with Isla I became especially huge. Even my nose was fat. While I didn’t always believe those who told me I looked beautiful, it was still nice to hear. Whenever I was told how big or tired I looked, I couldn’t help it and almost always ended up crying like an idiot in the bathroom. Wow, that sounded a lot more tragic than I had anticipated (hormones are such little bastards). It was as if my sense of self was engaged in a battle; the former me in one corner, and the new supersized version of myself in another. My first pregnancy was both wonderful (for obvious reasons) and terrifying as I couldn’t help but wonder if my former identity would be gone forever to make room for this new person I had become. Since most books describe pregnancy as a miraculous journey (etc.) but happen to leave out the emotional elements associated with the abrupt physical transformation, I was somewhat blindsided by how I was feeling. I guess I imagined I would stay exactly the same but have a perfect little basketball-belly. One thing I absolutely did not expect was a fat nose. Thankfully in time I rediscovered myself in a new light. It was the old me, but better. So, as a comfort to anyone that may be in the midst of their first pregnancy and can somewhat relate: rest assured, you’re still in there.

When I was pregnant with Sam, he was much kinder to me. Of course they say girls apparently “suck the beauty out of you”, so maybe that was the issue with Isla. The worse you look, the more beautiful your daughter will be. I’m certain this is absolute BS but it was a comfort to me as I’m sure it has been for many others in that position. I also knew Sam would be my last baby, so I truly did try to savour each month I carried him. I have to admit that it’s bittersweet to think that I’m done having children. At least I was lucky enough to go out on a high-note because, while pregnant with Sam, I truly felt beautiful (well, most of the time). Knowing that my new shape was (somewhat) temporary, I wasn’t as sensitive to the incessant commentary I was subject to. Still, with hormones in place of rationality, I didn’t quite have the capacity to handle a blow to my already fragile self-esteem.

 If you’re guilty of sometimes realizing that your foot is no longer on the floor but instead lodged firmly in your mouth, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’ve all mistakenly, and innocently, made someone feel bad. This is simply to use as a point of reference should you be interested in avoiding future “cringe-worthy” moments. Cringe-worthy meaning those awkward memories you so desperately want to forget but sadly never will. I have a few and cringe just thinking about them. Most are pretty silly and from a time when my verbal filter wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to think it is now. Really it comes down to self-awareness (one of my favourite topics that I promise to revisit). Regarding pregnancy let it be known that one should never assume that touching a belly is OK. Trust me, I get it. Nothing is more beautiful and enchanting than the miracle of pregnancy and sometimes putting a hand on a belly is simply irresistible. Unfortunately not all women subscribe to the unspoken understanding that it’s suddenly acceptable for anyone and everyone to touch them.  Lots of women find it creepy and weird, and for some it’s actually a source of anxiety. A close friend of mine is afraid of how she’ll, or rather how her hormones will handle the situation should it present itself. She fears her only option to keep people from touching her belly will be to wear a novelty t-shirt with a clear warning to stay the hell away from her. Funny as that visual may be, it’s sad that it’s come to this. Maybe it’s just another example of how uptight we North Americans are, but I’m on board and encourage everyone to respect the personal space of a pregnant woman. If you simply must touch a belly, at least ask permission first.