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Advice for the Newly Pregnant

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, one of my close family members and their spouse announced that twins are on the way! Early next summer we will be welcoming the newest additions with open arms.

Because the parents-to-be are doing the pregnancy and baby thing for the first time, I am compelled to dole out unsolicited advice and remind them that I have “been there, done that”. In their case, it isn’t completely true because I have never had twins. But there are some things that they should be aware of, regardless.

1. Do not tell anyone the names you have chosen for the baby (ies), or the names you are contemplating, until after the birth. The chances are very good that someone will not like the names you have chosen and they will tell you why: They once sat next to a kid with that name. He smelled like sausage all the time and he had eleven fingers. Or the name is too old-fashioned, too trendy, too hard to spell, too hard to say. Someone with that name once turned them down for a date, or worse yet, the name is shared by an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. If you wait to tell the name, The Critic will have a hard time telling you why the name is a tragic choice. They won’t be able to regale you with horror stories while they are holding a cute baby. I wonder if Julia Roberts told anyone she was naming her twins Hazel and Phinnaeus?

2. Do not use a kreativ spellyng for the nayme. If you wish to name the baby Hazel, then do not spell it Hayzyl. Pleez.

3. When the pregnant belly begins to bloom, expect random strangers in the checkout line at the grocery store to touch it. People seem to think that the pregnant tummy is just a big, fun snowglobe, there for the patting and shaking of the general public.

4. Expect to be asked “is it a boy or a girl?”. When you say “it’s twins!”, expect them to tell you about their 3rd cousin’s next door neighbor, who had twins that weighed 10 pounds each. They had full heads of hair—the boy had a mullet, the girl’s hair was long enough to braid. If they are both boys, they will say “are you going to try for a girl later?” If it is the opposite, expect the opposite question. If it is a boy and a girl, everyone will assume you are “done” and will be flabbergasted if you are not. I know what I am talking about.

5. Horror stories…you will hear about the 14 pound babies, the babies born in Taco Bell parking lots, the labor that lasted for the entire month of February 2002, the hospital bill for $42,389, and the stretch marks that snaked their way from the tips of the toes to the hairline of the mother. Ignore it all. People like to exaggerate about pregnancy and childbirth.

6. Did I ever tell you about how big my feet got during my pregnancies? Wow! I went from a size 8 to a size 14 EEEE. I had to wear slippers, exclusively, during my last few weeks. And the swelling! I dropped a quarter on my foot and didn’t find it for days. It just sunk right in and left a little portrait of George Washington near my big toe when I removed it. Every time I took a bath, there was George, staring at me.

7. Cravings will crop up at the craziest, most inconvenient times. With Joel, I had a chocolate cake fixation that would strike every night at about 10pm. Did I prepare in advance for my undeniable craving? No. That is what husbands are for—to drive to the grocery store and buy whatever your heart desires. One pregnancy I was all-about chili cheese dogs. It was a fortunate thing Der Weinerschnitzel was open until 1am. But, in all fairness, you should prepare yourself. I remember making a yellow cake at 11pm one night because I was craving it so badly, I was near-tears. Have a box of Duncan Hines in the cupboard for such an emergency. A can of chili, a jar of marshmallow fluff, some green olives, and Doritos all make good additions to the pantry. And they make a lovely sandwich on Wonder Bread. Together.

8. You will be asked “when are you due?” When you answer half the people will be amazed because you appear much larger than one would expect for a due date like yours. The other half of the people will be surprised because your tummy is so small for someone with your due date. Either you are enormous and people will accuse you of having quadruplets, or you are so tiny they will accuse you of fudging on your due date. Your tummy is never good enough. You could have a signed note from your doctor with your due date in big red magic-marker letters, and people will still question whether or not your due date is right.

9. Do not rush into maternity clothes too soon. You do want to be comfortable, but that billowy maternity shirt that looks so cute and comfy at three months (and that will signal to the world you have buns in the oven) will look like stained circus tent when you are 8 months pregnant. You will hate the shirt. The shirt will come to symbolize the days ahead that stand between you and your babies’ births. I call maternity clothes “eternity clothes” for a reason.

10. If someone, like say….a sister (or sister-in-law) offers to help with the babies in the first few days, take her up on it. If anything, she can do some dishes and some laundry, or bring over a casserole. Many first-time parents are reluctant to ask for help because they think it will interfere with “bonding”. So not true. It is easier to bond if you don’t have to worry about the menial chores in the first few weeks. Accept all help.

11. Take advice with a grain of salt. Here’s the whole shaker, you will need it.

12. Finally, take lots of pictures to chronicle your pregnancy. Enjoy it. As someone once said, you are assisting God with a miracle!

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