There are many things that we were asked as new parents - and as our daughter started to grow. Sometimes we could answer; other times the truth was too hard to speak about. Due to this, I've decided to write a post containing a little advice for everyone to keep in mind when speaking to parents.
"Was your baby planned?"
Everybody knows you have to have sex to have a baby. If I have done the act there's almost always a chance a pregnancy may be the result; even contraception isn't a 100% guaranteed way to prevent it.
Let's be honest though, you have no right to ask if someone planned to get pregnant. If they did, you don't know what they went through to get there. If they didn't, well, that's none of your business either!
"How are you coping?"
Now of all the stupid questions... the likelyhood is that the parent you are speaking too has been cleaning up wee, poop and puke, is suffering from a distinct lack of sleep, and has had multiple moments where they have felt like tearing their hair out.
If you're a parent yourself, you should know better, you've been there. If you're not, then you can't ever fully understand, so it's a moot question to ask!
All you need to do is provide a big bar of chocolate, a bottle (or three) of wine, gin or their favourite tipple, and compliment them on how good they look (even if they haven't brushed their hair or managed to get out of their pyjamas when you see them!)
"Does she sleep well?"
I'm never quite sure when this is asked, what people mean. As a newborn, babies will sleep, wake, cry, eat, poop, and sleep again. As a toddler, some children will nap during the day and have short sleeps at night. Other children, like R, will not nap during the day but sleep for 12+ hours at night.
When they are asleep, our children are asleep. So of course they sleep well. If you're asking what their sleeping patterns are, well, don't!
Nobody wants to be judged for what they're children do or don't do, and they certainly don't want to hear your stories of, "Oh right. Well mine slept through from the day they were born..." when they are hormonal, run ragged and exhausted from their own child being up 20+ times in the night.
"She's beautiful. When will you be having another?"
Most people who know me, know that I love children. Also, anyone who has been around since John and I started dating know that we have always wanted a family. So almost as soon as we had added R to our little family unit, people wanted to know when we would be having another baby. They wanted to know when R would have a sibling.
The problem is, in the two years and three months from when R was born, to when we discovered we were pregnant with L - we tried.
At first, as my cycle hadn't returned to normal, we assumed that I hadn't fallen pregnant because my body was ready. Then we decided it was because I was still breastfeeding which can act as a form of contraception. Further along the line I hadn't stopped breastfeeding long ago, or we weren't doing 'it' at the right time became our reasons of choice. Next it was because I was overweight. Finally, almost two years on, I did get pregnant, only to then suffer the awful loss of that pregnancy less than a week from finding out I was expecting.
After tonnes of tests - and visits to hospitals, doctors and specialists - we were given a final verdict. I was not ovulating, and my body was not a viable candidate for pregnancy. I was never going to be able to conceive naturally.
As a mother, I cried. As a Christian, I prayed.
Two weeks after we were told that, we discovered we were expecting L - something that baffled all the doctors and specialists. However that doesn't make the journey to getting there any easier.
During those years, we did not tell many people what we were going through. "Ignorance is bliss", they say. In our case ignorance led to awkward silences and further heartbreak every time someone asked us when we were having another, or why we didn't have another already.
"I bet you're hoping the next one is a boy!"
As much as I would love to have a son at some point in the future, I love that I have two beautiful girls; and I wouldn't change them for the world!
There is nothing more special than seeing the bond that my girls have already, and I know that when they grow up, they will be the best of friends.
Besides, having another girl has made our lives so much easier! We still have clothes and other items from when Squidgy was younger making it a lot cheaper, and we know what we're doing (sort of anyway!)
"It's a shame you didn't have anymore, and your child had to grow up alone."
Be careful what you say.
Maybe that parent you're talking to tried for years to conceive and couldn't. Maybe they exhausted all their savings paying for round of IVF which failed. Maybe they had health issues during their pregnancy which rendered them unable to have anymore children. Maybe they almost died giving birth and the idea of it happening again terrified them. Or maybe, just maybe, they were happy with one child and didn't need or want anymore children.
When did it become ok for us to judge other parents choices? Whatever the reason for someone to only have one child, it's none of our business and none of us have any right to question them on it.
There are many things that people say and ask, in harmless innocence that can cause a whole lot of pain, upset and annoyance. We may not mean to, but unfortunately we don't always see what is going on behind the scenes.
Therefore, next time you see a new parent, or one who has been doing it for a while, simply find a way to help them, compliment them or simply be a friend; and before you think it's a good idea to offer advice or ask a stupid question, ask yourself if it's something that you need to know!