Jokes! No one ever asks before providing their thoughts, comments or suggestions. They simply start to dish it out.
I had a reminder of this the other night when I was talking to a friend’s mother about how I’ve been. She’d seen my post about not enjoying pregnancy (which has been so helpful I might add for expediting these conversations) and acknowledged that everyone has their own experience. Good. Thank you. Are we done? Nope, of course we’re not.
She went on to say that sometimes, advice from others – especially those who’ve been there before us (well you’d bloody hope they’d done it before to think that they were qualified to dish out advice left, right and centre) could be highly beneficial. She said during her pregnancy, there were a few key pieces of information that really helped her and that she wouldn’t have thought to ask. So I feel she was suggesting that I be open to people talking to me about it, without explicitly saying it.
I think she was also somewhat hoping for an invitation to impart these pearls of wisdom. I did not extend such an invitation.
Because you see, despite me saying that I no longer welcomed comments, advice or thoughts – or even discussion, especially not about my post, I still manage to get a lot of it.
One, because people cannot read.
Two, because people haven’t seen it.
And three, like this lovely mother of my friend, they feel that their advice is the most unique and rare advice and that I simply must hear it in case no one else thinks to tell me.
But as I’ve pointed out so many times before, women are inundated with this advice day in and day out of their pregnancies. Whether it be from caring loved ones, concerned friends, books, websites, apps or the medical professionals that we have to see fortnightly, and sometimes more frequently than that.
The information is abundant and often overwhelming.We live in an age of technology that allows us to instantly access any piece of advice that we are seeking, either via a reputable medical source, a forum with other women in a similar circumstance or via a quick text or call to a friend anywhere in the world. It’s a blessing and a curse.
For someone like me, the abundance of caring and loving friends is certainly that. A blessing to have so many people who love me, but a curse that so many can access me in an instant meaning I need to create formidable boundaries in order to protect myself from overwhelm.
I’ve got more than 2000 friends on Facebook, 1500 connections on Linkedin, 3000 followers on Twitter and more than 2000 followers on Instagram. Some of these may overlap, but regardless, we can all agree that’s a lot of people who can reach out and speak to me. I have a huge network which I am grateful for – but when it comes to pregnancy, it’s been daunting and at times, suffocating.
It’s why for so long I chose to keep it private and personal. I didn’t share on social media until 27 weeks, and even then it was purely logistical. I was going to get noticeably bigger and at some point people would see me and a photo might go up and then I’d have to answer the questions over and over ”are you pregnant!!!!” So I went on the front foot.
The love and warm wishes were so wonderful.
But the flood of private messages of “are you finding out the gender?” “When are you due” “here if you need advice” and “have you done x, y and z”, along with the rest of the usual pregnancy questions ensued. Which I always knew it would, and that is why I drew a line and put it out more widely “no thank you, this is not an invitation for comments, advice or discussion” because I have to protect my energy.
So no my dear lovely friend, I do not want your advice.
And please don’t think this means I am over here sitting in the dark, clueless as to the world that I am about to enter. I have read three books, listened to two audiobooks, I have another three on order and I’m speaking to my amazing team of medical professionals weekly. They include a GP, obstetrician, midwife, psychologist, physiotherapist, kinesiologist and my pilates instructor (also a physiotherapist). I’m so so well supported.
I also have three darling friends who have been my confidants and untapped sources of knowledge and information. I love them dearly and I’m eternally grateful for their presence throughout my pregnancy journey. I’m not quite sure what I would have done without them.
The first of my friends is a hoot! We’ve been friends since the age of 1 and although we’ve come in and out of each other’s lives over the years, having that shared history has been so genuinely comforting at this time. As we speak she has a 3 month old and she has generously shared her journey from the time I told her I was pregnant, when she was around the 5-6 month mark, right through to a detailed run through of her elective c-section (which I welcomed openly). We call each other to laugh, cry and rant about our darling (but at times so terribly frustrating) husbands. We both feel safe in the knowledge that we can say anything to one another without fear of being judged and knowing that it will never go past our lips to another’s ears.
Then there’s my darling best friend and mother of four! She has children aged 8 to 12 months old and is so open to my long list of questions. She shares generously, honestly and kindly with me. She listens to my concerns without judgement and also invites my ideas and plans of how I’d like to parent, without giving the old “well just you wait until …” She is the least judgemental person in the world and she has been an absolute rock from day 1 – even prior to that when it was even a maybe. I’m so grateful for her.
And finally another gorgeous friend who is the mother to a beautiful 2.5 year old. We speak almost weekly and both share our worries and woes about pregnancy and motherhood. She is clear and kind in sharing her experiences and I always feel uplifted after speaking to her. I know she’ll be a constant pillar of support as I continue on this journey and we’ll observe each other’s lives and children with warmth and without judgement.
I am so good at asking for help. I really am. I have a history of mental health and it serves me well to say “i’m not ok, I’m not coping” and seek the appropriate support I need. So when I tell you “I’m good for advice thanks” I truly mean it. I’ve got my tribe, I’ve got my circle of support and I feel comfort in that.
Please always ask the woman first IF she’d like your advice, your story or your suggestion. She may well be very open to it, as I have at times during my pregnancy. I am all about sharing our experiences and being able to speak openly about what we are going through. But not telling people what to do or saying because it happened that way for you, it will definitely happen for me in the same way.
Also, be aware that this may be the 8th time today that someone has tried to impart their special tip or must have advice to the woman who is pregnant and she may just need a little break.
To others: ask first
To mothers: clear is kind
Telling people no thank you, I’ve got good advice and at this time I just need to focus on how I’m feeling and trust in the advice and support I have to hand. Thank you. This can be a gentle but firm way to end such a conversation and protect your own energy.
(P.s. did you like how at the end I gave you some unsolicited tips and advice 😉 you’re welcome.)
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