Love must be in the air this spring, because Mrs. Judge Mental has received several questions relating to the birds and bees. Mrs. Judge Mental has not so far been blessed with any children of her own, but she has seen several episodes of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant on TLC, and she’s prepared to dispense her best advice on dealing with pregnancy and childbirth.
My best advice is don’t get pregnant (unless you really want to). And by “really want to” I mean “can provide for a child in a stable environment,” not “told the audience of The Maury Povich Show that you want to have a baby even though you’re just 14.”
Ideal conditions for getting pregnant involve having a stable partner and/or a steady source of legal income, and the desire to stay up all night while a tiny human screams for no reason until you slowly lose your mind like in that one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when they all go crazy because they’re not dreaming enough. Even in ideal circumstances, though, raising a child is a struggle.
If you do get pregnant, be prepared for judgment. Not the kind of well-meaning, helpful judgment you get from Mrs. Judge Mental, but real judgment from everyone you know.
Everyone is going to agree on two things: You’re doing it wrong and you’re already the worst parent in the world.
You’re too young. You don’t have any education. You don’t know who the father is. You went to a sperm bank. You and your partner are using a surrogate. You’re not planning to breastfeed. You are planning to breastfeed. You’re hiring a wet nurse and making her eat organic frog legs and cumin.
Everyone you meet will be discussing your sexual behavior (too much or not enough), age (too young or too old), weight (too fat or too thin), and diet (too fatty or too healthy). Everyone who has had a child or knows someone who has is an expert on childbirth, and you don’t know anything about anything.
Your sleeping habits, vitamins, savings, musical tastes, and clothing will now be fair game for everyone you know (and some people you don’t). You’re sleeping on your back when you should be using a special pillow. You have to take this vitamin or your baby will grow a third eye. You should sell your cat to a gypsy or your baby will grow up to like Nickelback. You should eat only organic frog legs and cumin. You should drink pickle juice. You can’t wear high heels. You should have the baby at home in the bathtub with this Colombian midwife.
Everyone is going to agree on two things: You’re doing it wrong and you’re already the worst parent in the world. Also, people are going to touch you without asking. Just thought I would throw that out there.
We all like to judge pregnant people. Remember Octomom? Michelle Duggar? Look at the magazines in the checkout line: Every celebrity who gets pregnant, and a few who just put on a few pounds from time to time, is scrutinized, her baby bump measured and magnified.
Maybe the best example of our weird obsession with pregnancy (besides the aforementioned I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant) is MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and its melodramatic spinoff Teen Mom. These shows make excellent judgment material.
Here you have these teenagers, who were not responsible enough to prevent pregnancy, suddenly find themselves responsible for the lives of helpless, tiny babies. It’s a hoot to watch their domestic violence and custody battles, and the struggles depicted in the show certainly don’t paint a rosy picture of parenthood. I don’t think it should surprise anyone that the only couple featured on the show who have managed to stay together are the ones who gave their baby up for adoption.
So, how can you combat all the judgment and opinions and raise your baby the best way you know how? It’s simple, really. Just ignore the judgment and opinions and raise your baby the best way you know how.
You know you love your baby. Listen to your doctor and to your heart and do the best you can. It might not be perfect, and that’s OK.
Oh, and P.S.: Don’t name her anything stupid, but that’s another column for another day.
In the meantime: Congratulations and best wishes for a healthy baby!