Four months ago, I welcomed my first child; a son. He came bounding into our lives at a time when there were still way more engagement and wedding announcements than baby photos clogging up my Facebook feed. In other words: I was the first of my close friends to venture into the scary realm of parenthood. And it showed.
Based on all of those impossibly cute baby (and impossibly tiny) baby clothes I was generously gifted, there was no doubt my friends were excited for me. But it was also pretty clear: They were newbies at this baby thing, too.
As such, I very quickly noticed over my nine months of pregnancy just how … well, kind of hilarious it can be when you’re the first of your friends to wander into this (particular) uncharted territory. Allow me to run down a few of the telltale signs:
1. No one knows WTH the difference is between a baby swing, sleeper, and bouncer.
To be fair, I didn’t know why these nearly-identical items were different until a mom who’d been-there-done-that filled me in. Still, I’m pretty convinced my friends thought I had some serious pregnancy brain when I registered for all three. Who knew babies were so picky about whether they’re being rocked side to side or bounced up and down? Not my friends, that’s for sure.
2. Everyone is legitimately excited for the baby shower.
If baby showers are anything like bridal showers, I’m sure the novelty of them is going to wear off pretty quickly within my group of friends soon enough. But because mine was the first, people were strangely happy to discuss breast pumps and diapers for what seemed like forever, and take cheesy pictures alongside my bump. (Of course, the bottomless mimosas at my shower probably helped up their excitement, too.)
3. They have a morbid curiosity about what’s going on inside of you.
We all expect pregnancy will bring lots of trips to the bathroom, frequent appointments, and then a painful labor. But it takes a special kind of friend to care about the dirty little pregnancy secrets — and apparently, that was all of my friends. In fact, it seemed the more bizarre the detail, the more my friends wanted to hear about it. (“Mucus what?!“) I confess, I may have filtered some of my responses, so as not to scare the hell out of them. After all, I want my friends to eventually give my child some little buddies to pal around with one day.
4. But they really have no idea what you’re talking about.
None. Zip. Nada.
And I don’t even mean it in the “You can’t understand it until you’ve experience it” kind of way. I mean, they literally don’t understand the words that are coming out of your mouth. The new pregnancy and baby-related vocabulary you pick up as the trimesters progress is varied and foreign to anyone who’s new to this kid thing; and it can sometimes feel like you’re speaking another language.
From all the Internet lingo — DH, BTDT moms, etc. — to the words echoed straight from the mouth of your medical provider, it’s like I was speaking the hybrid language of Prenglish. (Pregnancy-English, that is.) I’m sure my friends walked away from many conversations with no clue what I said. (But don’t worry, you guys — one day you will.)
5. Instead of picking their brains, you are reliant on Dr. Google.
I’ll be honest: While I spoke like the undisputed pregnancy expert among friends, I really didn’t know what was going on half the time. While my own doctor and doula were great, I still fell victim to those frantic Internet searches in the middle of the night for answers to all of my burning questions. Unfortunately, Dr. Google has absolutely no bedside manner and only gave me more anxiety. But I did get quick answers that settled some of my worries (i.e. all of my baby’s frequent in utero hiccups didn’t mean there was some fatal problem with his umbilical cord).
6. You’ll accept baby advice from relative strangers, all day, every day.
When the kindly woman from the grocery store checkout line weighed in with some unsolicited advice one day, I actually cared. (Hey, at least it was more positive than many of Dr. Google’s diagnoses.) Even better was the new mom I sat next to in sophomore English who was willing to answer when I messaged her questions on Facebook that
usually always began with, “I hope this isn’t weird, but … ”
7. Your friends may need some friendly reminders about your new limitations.
Five years from now, most get-togethers among my friends are probably going to be at the park, during nap-friendly times. For now, though, my set is still more interested in counting down the minutes to the next Happy Hour. Of course, I was and still am glad to go along, even if I can’t drink; so long as we first make sure there were going to be some snacks. (You can keep your French Martini — just promise me there will be a basket full of French fries upon my arrival.)
8. When they do get pregnant, you’ll be one of the first to know.
The best thing about blazing the trail is getting to help those who follow. As my friends begin to take their own journeys towards motherhood, I’ve been honored to be among the first some have told — even if it’s just so they can verify the food aversions, exhaustion, and sudden aches and pains are all normal.
Plus, now that several of my friends are experiencing their own pregnancies, I’ve learned one thing is true whether you’re the first to get pregnant or the tenth: Welcoming a new baby into the mix is pretty much always exciting; and I can already tell that feeling will never get old.