Friday, February 17, 2012

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Some fellow BLM friends and I used to write very detailed emails about conception and our future children before we were pregnant again with our current babes. We'd include information about ourselves as parents to these babies before they were even conceived. We'd often joke about putting the cart before the horse in already planning for a life that didn't yet exist.

As we near the birth of our second child and still hold to being wildly hopeful about his life standing the test of time and far beyond our years as parents on this Earth, we're experiencing some cart-before-horse scenarios.

For one, I've been receiving lots of unsolicited child rearing advice from a large number of (hopefully well meaning, but not babyloss) people. I'm sure it's just so enticing to want to share with a super pregnant chick all about what you know related to raising kids, but honestly, stop. I am a perfectly capable, intelligent being who even spent years in the professional setting around none other than children. Real, in-the-flesh children. That's not only what I consider putting the cart before the horse (hello, my kid is still gestating), but it's offensive and rude. It tells me that my experience carrying Andrew and spending all of my pregnancies lovingly pouring over safety manuals of the latest baby gear and child-rearing practices and whatnot was in vain. I refuse to believe that my entire time as a mother (started circa March 2010) was in vain and I'd appreciate no one else express that inadvertently either. Lady in the grocery store, people I work with, and people I consider friends, please just think before you open your "helpful" mouths.

Chances are I've heard of all the baby items you want to address in your advice, as I do have a nursery bursting with baby crap. This has been mentioned many times and I even have pictures of the nursery and baby crap on this very blog. I've also likely spent a hell of a lot longer researching than you, as I've had nothing better to do than obsess over baby crap and the prospect of being a parent and using said crap with my own child for over two years straight. I read books and researched as well. I took classes and spent hours and hours on the Internet just to make myself more informed and familiar with what is out there for safety, user-ability and the like. I'm no idiot and I don't take unsolicited advice lightly. I've never really appreciated it, actually. And when I get baby advice, it's just about the worst kind... because it shows evidence that people aren't really attempting to understand my reality as a babyloss mother. In providing advice, it expresses to me that my child either did not have purpose or did not exist. And he did. And I deserve credit. I am a mom and I deserve credit.

Please let me peacefully complete this pregnancy and raise my child as I see fit. Case in point: unless I am conversing with you and include such things as a question mark (implying my interest to learn more about your experiences), I am not asking for them. I bet you're excited to share and it's a natural thing to do-- but not to a babyloss mother. And honestly, even before we lost Andrew, I didn't appreciate the unsolicited approach to sway my opinion. If I write a post on, say, strollers, I have no problem with comments or conversation related to your favorite strollers, etc. But if I am not discussing such things, I don't want the assumption to be made that I'm ignorant on the subject or want to be discussing such things. After all, my son did still die. These things are still triggers for me-- as I think I've made it clear in discussing how hard it has been to "prepare" for Benjamin in the wake of losing Andrew. It's hard. And not the regular kind of hard, either. And just because I'm carrying around this big, fat, loved baby, it doesn't mean I'm not still totally brokenhearted about losing Andrew.

Thanks for allowing the PSA. A bit longer than I expected... but quite necessary as my emotions are through the ceiling. Pregnancy after loss is probably the hardest decision I've ever made. I'm thankful with everything in me, but still so scared and sensitive.


Amy L. said... [Reply to comment]

Sending you a giant, hard hug right now, honey. Good on you to speak up. I get tired of hearing/giving excuses for other peoples' "good intentions" when really, I wish they'd shut the hell up and leave us be.

On the flip side, did you happen to read Brooke's post (By the Brooke) the other day about choosing love? My hubby and I are infertile, now at nearly 4.5 years of trying to bring home a living baby (after losing our twins, our only pregnancy, in August), and her words went straight to my heart...not so much about "bravery," as people like to commend us for trying again, but for choosing love.


Molly said... [Reply to comment]

Amen sista!

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

Love this, Brandy. I don't know if people realize that I can't talk about the Deuce without thinking about Eliza, and even the most well-meaning comments can be a grief trigger. A good friend of mine was recommending the brand of cloth diapers she bought and asked if we would cloth-diaper the Deuce and I said, "Well, we'd already bought the diapers for Eliza." But my TONE said "Shut the hell up. I know as much about cloth diapering as you do, but I never got the chance to do it."

People love to tell pregnant women what to do. Maybe I should iron-on a maternity shirt that says, "Unsolicited Advice Not Welcome." And wear it everywhere.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

Also how awesome is it that Amy L. is now my publicist? Love her.

Ben and Katie said... [Reply to comment]

I've had this before but just in a very different situation as you know. It's hard just to keep my mouth shut yet want to say sooooo many things!
You're a very wise woman and I have no doubts that baby b will be very well taken care of whether he has the latest baby items out there or whether you've read or not read all the books! God gives the gift of mothering and you already have that gift!
Lots of love and prayers coming your way!

LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

That Brooke is so clever! ;) ha

It's hard bc People mean well, but by giving unsolicited advice it is borderline offensive since you ALREADY know because you've ALREADY done this/thought of this/researched that.

Being pregnant after a loss is tough enough without needing to be constantly reminded it can be done "better".

katie illingworth said... [Reply to comment]


Just yesterday, I got to listen to two ladies at work tell me about what I need to do with the crib versus the attachable co-sleeper I've purchased.

Then they talked to me about their birthing and delivery stories AS IF I'D NEVER BEEN THROUGH IT.

Of course, I piped up and said, "well, when I delivered Georgie..."

That shut them up pretty quick.

Yes, it makes me crazy. And also? Belly touching. DON'T TOUCH MY KID.

Sorry, feeling a little on edge and upset today.

You say it perfectly: "I am a mom and I deserve credit."

Now lay off me people. Just let me gestate in peace and pray to God fervently that this one makes it.

Addi's mom said... [Reply to comment]

I think even after we have a dozen children (well how ever many we decide is enough ;)) people will always feel the need to give pregnant chicks un-welcome advice. Depending on the person, I try to roll my eyes (so they can see) and remind them that this isn't my first go at this. The people who are really well-meaning morons....that's tougher. I smile and grit my teeth. I don't mind hearing about what you do with your baby, but don't tell me it like it's the bible for how to do things...even without a living baby I am sure we could teach them a thing or ten! Hang in there friend!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Sending thoughts and hugs your way mamma....

Todd Coston said... [Reply to comment]

Todd's Top 10 Parenting Advice for a fellow Pepperdine Alum:

10. Teach your kids about lego's early, they'll need to have that skill in graduate school.

9. If Brent babysits for you, your kid will learn to pee in the snow.

8. Teach your child to chop, dice, quarter and chiffonade.

7. Remember, your role as a parent is to make your child a better version of themself.

6. Every child needs a TIF (token Indian friend)

5. Teach your kid to Second Life!

4. Remember at the end of every day to have a Community Circle to help your child learn to reflect.

3. Teach your kid to may be the only way they communicate with you when they are older.

2. Your child should not aspire to mentor animals....that should be left to experts who make candles in their garage!

And #1.......

It's not about how the kid turns's about "the process".

B. Wilson said... [Reply to comment]

@Todd Coston

Um, you're pretty much hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed that. I'm thinking I'll accomplish many of those things. :)

#2 pretty much had me falling off my chair. And no shortage on the TIFs here in Illinois.

We had some great times in OMET together. I definitely miss you all often and think of you with great admiration.

Hope you, Cari, and your beautiful kidlets are doing well.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I get annoyed with all the advice even now, but during my pregnancy was especially annoyed with it - not just the gear, the items, etc, but mostly pregnancy related advice. I feel like if anyone can dish out pregnancy advice it's probably the chick who has been pregnant for two years!

Amen sister!

My New Normal said... [Reply to comment]

My favorite are the comments telling me to make sure to have another one because only children grow up to be spoiled brats. As if we all have a choice as to how many children we have.

Shut up!! That's what I always want to say. But of course I don't because I'm don't have the balls.

Tiffany said... [Reply to comment]

Amen! I'm experiencing this right now. People are just so excited to see my toting a baby around & do I get all kinds of comments/advice. I especially hate people telling me to cherish this time because they "grow up so fast." umm, yea if you're lucky!!! My son didn't have that chance. O & btw, I'm not a new mom thanks! I've been down this road before. Ugh! I hope it gets better, but maybe we will just learn to deal better.