Pregnancy Obsessions That Seem Ridiculous Once You Have Kids
The plight of the pregnant woman is real: excited, anxious, tired, and reeling from the attention of strangers who want to know more about your biological success. If it's your first, being pregnant is a mind cave in which you feel great and also terrified. A kite and doomed. We all handle this in different ways, but I got lost in predictive dreaming. I obsessed. And I had some very healthy obsessions. I knew, since I was having a kid, that there was so much I needed to know and be ready for. I was determined to do it the right way. (I did not yet grasp that the right way is just your own way). So I spent a lot of time thinking about cloth diapers.
Really. A lot of time. I read blogs and websites and did research on diaper services. In retrospect, the time invested doesn't make sense. Just, why? I didn't know how they worked. But I could have ordered a set and figured it out when the baby arrived. Instead, I had to read every single piece of advice that any cloth-using mother had ever dispensed. I read about detergents you had to special order and toilet spray attachments and washing routines. I can no longer remember whether it gave me pleasure or increased my anxiety, but I thought about it with passion. It's something I do not think about at all, now, six years after my first.
Every expectant couple dreams up names. It's fun. It's wacky. It's a wide-open game. Family politics may or may not be involved. We liked to test our names on other people, yet not the ones we thought we'd really use. It became a fun social experiment. There was the time I tested "Frieder, boy name" on a waitress in California who was German, and she recoiled. She said it was like the name of your nasty old science teacher. Conservative and retro. Baby name hopes dashed. One thing I liked about the name game is that most people cannot hide their reaction to a name. No one is diplomatic about names. So we obsessed. We made lists. And we paid attention to other babies, though we really didn't know any babies.
Then, in the hospital, we went over the girl names with my sister, who diplomatically pointed out that if we named her "Rilla," people would hear "Willa." And thus we gave our daughter a name that was not on the list. There is relief, not being pregnant, of no longer having to think about names. The second time around we spent just enough time on names to find one we agreed on, and that was settled.
The main reason we didn't find out the sex of my child during pregnancy was to prevent people from sending me baby pink. Both my husband and I felt we'd have a girl. It wasn't rational, but I was adamantly against pink. It was like an aversion, particularly to baby pink. I thought most baby clothing was ugly and spent a lot of time dreaming about better, modern babywear. Of course, once we had a girl, people sent us pink anyway. And that was OK. Well, actually, I recycled a lot of it. But I tried so hard to avoid pink with my first. Now that I have an older girl and a second girl, I care a lot less about the "look" of their clothing. The toddler goes out in completely pink/purple outfits and I don't think twice about it.
I thought when my baby wasn't sleeping, we would probably be running. It was hard, not being able to run regularly while pregnant. I fell in love with swimming. But once my baby was born, I was certain we'd be in the jogger, like, all the time. Every day. Then she was born, and I couldn't run. Then I was too tired to run. Then we ran, but really, it didn't take up all that much time. We started walking more, and more, and more. I found I preferred running on my own, for myself, without my babe.
When you're pregnant, your dreams of your child are, consciously or not, a projection of your own self, full of hopes for a generic child or an ideal child. Then your children arrive as real, physical people. It becomes strangely elemental: they are simple, and they are beautifully complex. It seems silly not to let them grow as they choose, as they must, and let yourself grow with them.