I have an acquaintance who had a baby, like, a minute ago, and she has suddenly become the rather insufferable Expert Of All Things Baby-Related (EATBR).
From aspirators to zinc cream, she is constantly dispensing advice on which brand/size/colour/flavour/version of a technique, product or service is best. I wouldn’t find her so annoying if this was her fifth of sixth child (in fact, then she would have earned the title of EATBR, and I might be inclined to take a note or two). But alas, this is her first babe, her first shot at parenthood – likely the first time in her life she’s ever heard the terms colostrum, gripe water or swaddle.
And yet, somehow, miraculously, after having barely just squeezed progeny from her loins, she has earned her Level Nine Grand Wizardress of Knowledge badge, entitling her to spew nuggets of wisdom on other, hapless first-time moms-to-be.
Now, let me take off my grumpy pants for a minute, and admit that I get that she’s just trying to be helpful. I totally understand. But shut the f*ck up, already. Seriously. While this is may be my first shot at motherhood, I’m no stranger to basics of babies. I’m an only child, but my mother has a legion of nieces and nephews, each with at least one child. I’m one of the last in my age group to reproduce (there are three “waves” of cousins. I’m the second-youngest in the first wave), but diapering, swaddling, comforting, burping, feeding, catching/ducking from errant fluids – hell, even changing an explosively shitty diaper in the trunk of my car – or fashioning a makeshift play-pen/crib out of a laundry basket is nothing I haven’t experienced before.
girl woman is also a good 12+ years younger than me, I’m less inclined to consider her a source. Ageist? Perhaps, but with her 28-ish years as compared to my, uh, *cough* 39, *cough* I find she’s more about what’s trendy and “convenient” (in that impatient, almost ADHD, Millennials kind of way) and less about the kid. That being said, it must be noted that I am not, for one second, implying that she doesn’t care about her baby. (On the contrary; observing the two of them, there seems to be both a loving rapport and solid routine).
* * *
My close girlfriends all had kids in their Very Late Thirties, and I find their suggestions a little less pushy, a little more about the experience of dealing with all of the beautiful, unbearable and banal parts of motherhood. Their coping methods seem more about being in the moment, rather than shortening it. It could be that because a few of them actually had troubles conceiving, they really have a heightened sense of wonderment (and dare I say appreciation) for their little bundles.
Stifling the urge to roll my eyes whenever the EATBR dispenses another of her sage pearls requires Herculean effort on my part. But I manage. I simply give a closed-mouth smile, and nod and say, “mmm-hmmm,” or things like, “that’s good to know,” or just, “thank you for sharing that,” in effort to stop her from talking. It almost never works, but at least I come off as gracious and engaged.
At least, I hope I do.
My other, greater issue is that most advice in general is coming from a mother who has a neurotypical child. I don’t know how Peanut’s DS is going to affect her ability to feed, sleep, develop or even cope outside the womb. A lot of what I’ve researched states that while the severity varies widely from child to child, there are almost always issues related to feeding and sensitivities (celiac disease, GERD, hypotonia affecting suckling and swallowing) that come with having a baby with Down Syndrome.
I don’t want to be that mom who constantly references her kid’s illness. You know the one – “oh, little Johnny has Spattergroit,” which invariably leads to “well, he can’t come out because his Spattergroit is acting up again,” or “Can I read the ingredients? I just want to make sure it won’t trigger his Spattergroit,” or “Your child doesn’t have Spattergroit. You couldn’t possibly understand how hard it is.”
I realize this is ironic of me to say, as the very reason I started this blog was to chronicle what it was going to be like parenting a special needs baby/child. At the same time, I realize that until she’s here, I can’t start deflecting advice or suggestions based on what I’ve read. Ultimately, Peanut’s course through infancy into childhood will differ from some other kid’s – not just because she has Down Syndrome, but because every kid’s experience and trajectory is different, period.
* * *
The boy and I were talking about ol’ Miz EATBR the other day, and he remarked that he was proud of me for just letting her spew instead of cutting her short (he knows me too well). I just smiled and said something about appreciating the input and understanding her need to be a resource.
I didn’t bother to tell him that I was already on my third set of eyeballs, having worn out the other two pair by continuously rolling them after a night out with her.
Let him think that I’m a kinder, gentler me.