What Plan?

I hate to be grumpy about the Facepages — tho’ while we’re at it, I remember back when there was no status bar, no news feed, nothing at all except your name and the option to poke someone, THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIENDS! — but people have got to stop with the pregnancy/parenting updates.

Consider this: Facebook is the only address book I have. In fact, now that people don’t visit each other, write letters, answer the phone, or respond to emails or texts, it’s basically the only means I have of sorting out who’s alive and approximately where they’re located.

And that’s fine. Mostly, I just want the reassurance that I can contact someone in case one of us needs the other.

What I do not want, do not need is the play-by-play of some random child’s life: the helpful-I-suppose comparisons of fetus size to pieces of food (“my baby is now the size of a kidney bean!”); paeans to doulas (no, just NO; if you’re determined to die in childbirth like its 1770, at least spring for a certified nurse-midwife; them, you can at least sue); misinformation about vaccines (look, just get the shots); reviews of products ranging from strollers to birthing pools (which, btw, will always put me in mind of this); and, of course, the pictures of feces. How could I ever forget those?

Also, the many, many naked photographs of toddlers I don’t know. Do you realize that in a different context, this would be criminally inappropriate? Plus, you’re squandering any leverage you might have for when these kids are teenagers — “Oh, you’re planning on staying out all night? Then I guess you won’t mind if I put some of these home movies on the Internet. Remember the one where you’re in the bath, covered in suds, and screeching out Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance?’ at the top of your lungs? No? Well, you’re in for a treat, kiddo — you and your 4,000 closest friends.” Just think about it.

Anyway, I obviously don’t want to shun anyone; I’m theoretically interested in the fact that you have reproduced and I can even promise to hit “like” on exactly one photo per major developmental milestone. I just don’t want QUITE SO MUCH information.

While I’m perusing the updates, I  restrain myself, because it is my firm belief that reproductive and child-rearing decisions rest with the parent  = largest stakeholder.


a.) I’m from a generation whose mothers could still smoke and drink without catching too much hell from anyone (though mine didn’t), whose fathers were like “wait, WTF is this, all I did was use my penis, like, 70 times and now suddenly there’s a f*cking baby?”, and whose grandparents could offer suggestions like “well, whenever you kids were colicky, we just gave you a thimbleful of gin and if that didn’t work, smacked you a couple times” without getting arrested…so admittedly my attitude falls more on the “Is there a problem, officer?” end of the spectrum.

b.) I regularly consult Mom, who’s not only a nurse but also the mother of five offspring, and who can be reliably counted upon to offer a, “Oh good God, no!” AS HER MEDICAL OPINION.

c.) if I don’t get this $#!+ out of my system, my head will explode.

So here it comes.

First of all, only in the world of parenting does doing something exactly once make you an expert. God, how I wish life worked that way. If it did, I could be like the guy from Quantum Leap, only without the time travel — which hardly seems worth it, but you get my point.

Secondly, enough with the anecdotes. They are not evidence of anything except one person’s highly subjective experience. When you say, “I did delayed cord-clamping/placenta smoothies/8 years of breastfeeding with my babies and all three (now 15, 12, and 9 yo) are happy and healthy,” there are no valid conclusions to be drawn from this statement…unless you happened to have a control group of sickly or dead children who were NOT the beneficiaries of the aforementioned. And you don’t, do you?* Of course not, that would be creepy and bizarre. Kind of like breastfeeding your kid for eight years.

Also, I am mystified by all the references to “birth plans.” This is apparently a thing that expectant parents do. (And am I correct in my inference that this may or may not include a mix tape or playlist?)

What is there to plan, exactly? Hate to say it, but it’s not a space mission. Mission control is not going to be monitoring your every action, so there’s no need for a multi-page itemized checklist, is there? Be honest, now.

A woman’s body grows a baby until it’s fully formed, then shoves it out. You’d be hard pressed to improve on evolution.

Unless you consider the fact that, if something goes wrong, doctors intervene to prevent the mother and/or baby dying. You’d be hard pressed to improve on science, too.

Since I have no firsthand experience — haha guess what? In this day and age, doing something NEVER can also make you an expert, just look at any school board — I imagine that in the event of carrying a pregnancy to term, my “birth plan” would more or less resemble how plumbers spend the day after Thanksgiving. Because obviously, you don’t want anything lodged in those pipes, least of all a slimy, sentient creature the size of a raccoon. So do what you have to do, ladies.

While I’m on the subject, I think I’m also permitted at least ONE anecdote:

By my mother’s recollection, I wasn’t too difficult to whelp, despite the fact that the hospital “wouldn’t give [her] any drugs, because there was this whole ‘natural childbirth’ trend.” She still seems bitter about that, incidentally. I would be, too, I think.** And by the time my siblings came along, forget it. Memorable quotes from that decade include “He’s 36 weeks, he’s got lung function, get this kid out already!”, “should’ve gone to graduate school,” and “I’m getting too old for this.”

And with that, let me heartily endorse this last statement with regard to the baby-related oversharing. People, we live in the Digital Age and with great power comes great responsibility. CURATE YOUR INFORMATION, for the love of…I don’t know, the vast, unfeeling, dark-matter-saturated universe, I guess.

*And if you DO have a secret Flowers in the Attic brood, PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME. Not in the comments section, not anywhere.
**The most significant medical procedure I’ve ever had was an appendectomy. I said, “Hey peeps, if we’re doing this, I’ma need lots more drugs” and that was before the operation even started. The surgeon was impressed, I believe, especially since I managed to slur it in two languages. (If hazy memory serves, it went something like, “Hei pawb, os dych chi’n ‘neud y llawdriniaeth ‘ma, mae rhaid i fi llawer o ddrygioni.”)
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