If You Cannot Say Something Nice…

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 • 8 Comments on If You Cannot Say Something Nice…

It’s an interesting social experiment to tell people you’re pregnant. When I got pregnant with Patrick the response was overwhelmingly positive.  Good wishes were heaped on me and I basked in it, hoping all that positive energy would fend off anything bad from happening. I’m superstitious like that. I’d had a miscarriage the previous year, so I know those early good wishes were tempered with caution— much like my acceptance of those good wishes. But as the months wore on, others showed such joy in my increasingly growing condition. Not in a mean way—in that way a pregnant woman walking into a room will garner attention and inspire smiles. It was nice.

So I find myself a bit perplexed this time around.  Granted, it’s still early (just over 8 weeks) and there is still reason for plenty of caution. But the responses I’ve gotten to this pregnancy have not been as positive as they were with Patrick. In fact, there is an undercurrent of negativity in some of the things people have said. “Again? Wow, you’re really in for it!”  “I’m going to laugh if this one doesn’t sleep as well as Patrick.”  “This one won’t be as good as Patrick.”  “You’re never going to have time for yourself now!”  “That’s crazy!”  And so on.

I suppose having back-to-back babies at my age is a bit of a shocker for anyone (including me) and perhaps no one quite knows how to take it.  Patrick could be seen as the miracle baby after the miscarriage and considering my age, plus the fact that I’ve been married forever and it seemed certain we’d never have children. (Never mind that we weren’t actively trying to have children most of those years.)  So if Patrick is the miracle, this pregnancy would be, what? It confuses people, I suppose.

The negative comparisons to Patrick bother me more than the rest.  There is almost a malicious glee in some of those comments.  Having a baby who is an excellent sleeper seems to bother people, whether they have children or not.  Why is that?  So now I’m being heaped with all these warnings that second babies aren’t like first babies—they’re worse. They never sleep, they cry all the time, they aren’t as happy as their older siblings, they are completely different in every way. I have joked that the next baby will be a terror—but I find it shocking that other people feel compelled to say such things.

The negative stuff isn’t the norm, though sometimes it feels like it when I get back to back comments from people.  There have been many, many happy wishes and I’m grateful for every one, perhaps even more so this time around. Knowing what the months will bring in terms of worry and stress, I appreciate all the positive energy I can get. I think the unkind comments are so jarring because they’re so unexpected. Even if it’s said in a joking way, a wish for me to have a baby who never sleeps feels like a curse. Or maybe it’s just my overwrought pregnancy hormones taking things too personally. It’s certainly possible.

Come what may, I don’t regret telling people as early as I did about this pregnancy. I will bask in the good wishes of the people who are genuinely happy for me and let that good energy deflect those who aren’t. And I will keep my fingers crossed for a baby who is healthy and happy and sleeps as well as his brother.

Posted by Kristina in Baby, Pregnancy and Baby
  • I’m not a mother myself, but am so happy to hear your news. I hope you have a safe and joyous pregnancy and that when the time comes, your increased family are all happy and healthy. Also hope the newcomer will be a sound and peaceful sleeper. smile

  • Jo says:

    First, I would say that second babies tend to be WAY more chilled and easier, for lots of reasons. I know of exceptions, but generally, they’re relaxed, social little people, with none of the neuroses that go along with being the sole apple of your anxious first time parents’ besotted eyes smile

    Secondly, yeah, I will admit to being in the camp that is terrified at the thought of dealing with a babe in arms and a toddler, and I’m amazed at people who do. So I do sometimes have that awed fear reaction to people having their kids close together.

    However, in Ireland, it’s the norm, even still. ‘Irish Twins’ is the term for babies born more or less 9 months apart. As soon as your baby gets bigger here, people start asking is it time for the next one, so they’ve really no right ot the kind of reaction you’re describing!

    Especially not to your face. People are just insensitive, and a little bit stupid, and they don’t realise the impact their words might have. We all think we own pregnant women for some reason. I don’t know why.

    I suppose you just calmly throw it back at them: that seems a very negative reaction. I wonder why you feel the need to say something like that?

    On the plus side too, Patrick has way more chance of escaping sibling rivalry this way – they say before two or after four is the best time to have the next one. There is a lot to be said for it, I just know I never had the organisational skills or energy! Or, um, the desire to have sex smile

    The only thing I’ll say, is, this time – get lots of help! I found the change from one to two quite a shock, I must admit. And my number two was a better sleeper, and all round delight. So there!

  • Nikki says:

    Oh, Kris. You’ve got another miracle going on in there. A lovely, wonderful surprise! I suppose a second child will bring its own challenges, just as some things will be harder, some things will be easier this time round.

    I can add with unflinching honesty that it’s galling, after a year of sleepless nights, to hear of parents with mellow, sleepy babies. I’m a fucking wreck! It’s not fair! So, yes, there’s jealousy there, of course there is. In fact, if I’m even more honest, I’d love another child but having a very demanding first baby has made me doubt my ability to deal with two. So it kind of hurts when others get pregnant, with what appears great ease. I’m scared, guilty and anxious, mostly exhausted, and wish *I* was happily pregnant.

    Is that any help?!

    Everything I’ve ever heard says that second babies are usually a lot ‘easier’ and more mellow than firsts. My friends with a mellow first had a VERY mellow second. No way of knowing, I suppose!

    Most of all, everything I’ve ever heard about babies has shown me that people talk an awful lot of crap about them. You take good care of yourself and your little bean, K. Ignore the rest of us pathetic jealousy-riddled arses. I’m sure everyone means well, underneath.


  • Jennifer says:

    Seems like this happens with most people. Insane. Just say congrats and move along.

    BTW- I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for you! The world is full of wonderful surprises! smile

  • Amber Rhea says:

    I don’t understand some of the things people think it’s okay to say. I guess people just DON’T think… but that is no excuse. It’s extremely rude of them.

    I hope you have a wonderful pregnancy! Haters to the left.

  • Nikki says:

    Oh, the jealous half of me is irrational, did I mention that?! The other half of me is really very glad you have a good sleeper, cause I know you needed one.

    As for two – you will manage, babe.  Like Jo says, get more help set up and use it. I’m still crap about ceding control, but I know that if I have a second I’ll need to.

    And once the babes a certain age, they’ll play together! Genius!


  • Kristina says:

    Oh, thank you so much for your sweet and thoughtful comments!

    Jo ~ I had never heard the phrase “Irish twins.” These 2 will be about 21 months apart. I can’t imagine having two less than a year apart. Wow!

    Nikki… oh dear, you brought tears to my eyes. I do understand your jealousy and my heart goes out to you for the lack of sleep. I don’t know what I would have done if Patrick had been a poor sleeper, especially during those early months when it was only me. I feel like he *had* to sleep well—anything less and I wouldn’t have survived!  And if he didn’t sleep well I don’t think I could even comprehend having a second one.  As it is, I am totally clueless about how I’m going to do this—TWO babies in diapers? Two of everything? Two different schedules and developmental timelines? How will I do it??  So I’m a bit jealous of some of the freedom you have now (caffeine! alcohol!) and will have a year from now when you’re one child is nearing two years old and much more self-sufficient while I’m just getting settled into having two children and still trying to lose the baby weight.  Thank you for sharing your perspective, it does help to know that none of us really has it all figured out, whether we have one, two or six (holy hell!).

    Portia and Jennifer… thank you for your good wishes. Your happy enthusiasm makes me think maybe I *can* do this. wink

  • Kristina says:

    Amber, I honestly can’t remember too many truly negative comments when I was pregnant with Patrick. Or maybe I just forgot them. wink 

    I’m really annoyed when people say, “You’re pregnant again?”  It’s the “again” part that bothers me. Like it’s shocking/indecent/wrong. Or, again, maybe that’s just pregnancy hormones. But, really, is the word “again” necessary? I think not.

    Nikki… you’re awesome. Love the video! And yes, I keep thinking that in a couple of years I’ll be grateful because they’ll be able to play together and give me a little time to myself. I hope…

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