What To Expect When You Tell People You’re Expecting

May 25, 2012

Humor

People are pretty consistent in how they react when you tell them you’re having a baby.  You tell someone you’re expecting and 99.5% will first say something like, “Oh, that’s so great!  Congratulations, that’s so exciting!”  Which is a reasonable response.  Maybe a little overenthusiastic, but it’s exactly what the expectant parents would like to hear.

Uh-oh! Is someone’s diaper full?  Oh, wait, the tire yard is on fire.

98% of people, however, then immediately follow it with some tidbit of doomsaying.  Immediately.  Something awful.  Something about parenthood that just sucks.  It ranges from the immediate (“get ready to be exhausted” “hope you like poop that smells like a tire fire in hell”) to the surprisingly long-term horror stories for having told someone you have a 15-week-old fetus. (“Just wait until she’s a teenager and becomes a psychopath and hates your guts”)

This instinct, I am less clear on.

Now, some people then offer a third statement – something to the effect of “It’s totally worth it, though.”  And I refuse to believe these gloomy, bitter statements are the grand truth of parenting.  Based, though, on reactions to telling people that we’re having a baby, the entire timeline of having a child, apparently, goes like this:

The famous scene from A Clockwork Orange, in which Alex tries to stay awake to look after the baby.

Age 0-1: Unending days of feces-encrusted sleeplessness interrupted only by panic and confusion.  And mom, hope you like breasts that are swollen and have the top 2 layers of skin rubbed off!  If you have pets, best case scenario?  Deep facial scars.

Age 1.5-4: Oh, they call them the “terrible two’s” but don’t kid yourself.  The child will now rocket into tireless megalomania, pausing only briefly to hit her head and swallow dangerous things.  She will also take gruesome, expensive revenge on the pets.

Many parents wind up with legos permanently fused in to their lower appendages. They are the lucky ones.

Age 5: This is a pretty cute age. This will hopefully see you through the constantly being asked “Why?” and stepping on Legos.  Also no sleep, because the phobias really kick in.

Age 6-10: Time to have your heart-broken again and again!  The child is off to school, and to start developing a world away from you.  Your slide into irrelevance begins now.

Age 11-13:  Your child will now be replaced by the Demon Warrior from Planet Bitch.  And let’s not even get in to the tantrums and puberty which is terrifying and gross from everyone’s perspective. Also, did you know you’re embarrassing?  Not anything about you in particular, just you.  As a person.

Age 14-18: They don’t need you and when then do they don’t want you.  Boys will challenge you for dominance and girls will give you daily heart attacks.  They’re mean.  They’re lazy.  They will wreck your car.   If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to have the person you love most loathe you and think you’re pathetic?  Now’s the chance.

You’re having a baby? Oh, congratulations, that’s so great!… Hope you like dying alone, forgotten and a failure.

Age 18 +: They leave, they make the same mistakes you did, they resent you, they forget about you, you die.

And that, apparently, is the magic of parenthood.

Sometimes it’s tempting to stop telling people just to avoid whatever inevitably comes after “Congratulations!”.  But we won’t, because we’re too excited to let anyone ruin this.  So doomsay away.  Even if it does scare me?  It’s totally worth it.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Blog in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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62 Comments on “What To Expect When You Tell People You’re Expecting”

  1. k8edid Says:

    I don’t know why people do that – expound on the horror stories. I suspect you and the B-Mom will do the same at some point. It is, is I suppose, much easier than telling how – when you see her little face for the first time you will simultaneously laugh and cry. How you will look at Mrs. B holding, or rocking, or nursing B-baby and you will think you are the only people in this world capable of creating such a wonder. How you will suddenly understand the term “would lay down my life for”. How her little arms around your neck will erase the worst day. It is much easier to talk about poop, tantrums, sleep deprivation, impaled feet and teenaged-angst. The storytelling is easier, juicier, safer. I’m glad you’re not scared – because it is totally worth it.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Oh, I’m going to dish it out, but I’m going extreme. “You’re having a baby? That’s so exciting! Congratulations! YOU’RE TOTALLY F*****D. I HOPE YOU LIKE MISERY BECAUSE THAT’S ALL THERE IS FROM HERE. AN IRON MAIDEN OF PARENTHOOD CRUSHING YOU CRUSHING YOU CRUSHING YOU.”

      Reply

  2. Life With The Top Down Says:

    I’m at the 17-19 period, which for them is freedom, excitement and new. Meanwhile, I am having my hair dyed more often to cover the worries. Honestly, it’s worth it! Your own youth gets rejuvenated as you watch them grow.
    Consider yourself lucky, your wife has to endure the horror stories from other women about how her body will be transforming into something from another planet. Women are very generous with this information! Now, go hug your wife and tell her she is beautiful.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      They sure are – I’m sure it seems like commiserating, but “Oh that little fat pocket on your stomach and your hips and…” is strangely not helpful to someone watching her body shift and change in ways that lack long-term desirability.

      Reply

  3. 1pointperspective Says:

    Sometimes people find a purpose in life, sometimes they have one thrust upon them. Some accept their purpose and thrive on it, some fight it, and some try to wait it out. Those of us who were naive enough to wait it out can only hope that they get a second chance as a grandparent.

    Reply

  4. Valentine Logar Says:

    Here is the good stuff –

    Babies smell really good when they wake up (never mind diapers) they have this fresh smell.

    Babies up to about 3 years old like to cuddle, little girls in particular for the most part but little boys also. Cuddles and tickles and rolling about on the floor with them is actually quite fun. Reading dino books, playing with blocks and making grand discoveries of the fort between the chairs and underneath the table is fabulous fun. Falling asleep with them on your chest after a long afternoon of play is grand.

    Honestly? There is the world out there full of wonder, you get to introduce your child to it. Done properly from a young age you get to be the hero of every single story you and your child make up. It is a great time to be alive, up to about 10 years old.

    Okay, the teenage years can be a bit rough but the don’t have to be. I raised two and only one of them was as described above the other one was quite amusing and we had a good time during his transition to adulthood.

    I remain close to both my boys, live nearby and see them often. Their adult selves are reflections of what I and others put into them. They are great men and I am always proud of them. Sure they have made some mistakes but not huge ones and not unrecoverable ones.

    That is the joy of parenthood.

    Reply

  5. Elyse Says:

    It’s easy to figure out, B-man. They’re all jerks. Well, except your bloggin’ buddies, of course. Cause we tell you the good stuff and find the fun.

    I do, however, give you permission to use whatever necessary on those women who feel obligated to tell labor horror stories. Duct tape, bullets, sarcasm. Whatever you need.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      THAT’S what I forgot to include – My wife says, “I’m really scared about giving birth” to which women consistently reply, “UGH! I was in labor for 83 hours and the screams were so loud the windows broke and see this scar on my forehead? The pain was so intense my skin ruptured and…”

      Reply

      • Elyse Says:

        Kill them. Do anything to shut them up.

        I’ve never had a baby but I have had surgery. Before you do, people insist on telling you how they nearly died on the table, were months in horrible pain, got addicted to pain meds, would die before doing it again. But hey, don’t worry, everything will be fine. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.,

        Reply

      • Life With The Top Down Says:

        I love how women end the horrific details with..”you’ll forget about once you see that baby”…. yea, clearly you haven’t FORGOTTEN considering you continue to tell the world of your horror!

        Reply

        • The Byronic Man Says:

          Yeah, its seems more like they’re saying “You’ll forget once you see the baby… then remember every day after that.”

          Reply

          • MJ, Nonstepmom Says:

            I never tell this because women throw tomatoes at me ….but Mrs B may very well do just fine !
            I was expecting a scene like Ridley in Aliens – but after 4 hours I was kicking back eating frozen yogurt & watching HBO.
            But yeh, you pretty much have the timeline correct, so go forth and conquer ! (and by conquer I mean master phrases like “because I’m your dad, thats why” and “ask your mom” )

            Reply

  6. becomingcliche Says:

    Wait. You forgot giving up vacations to put braces on the kids. And the sweet baby snuggles. And the crayons in the stereo. And the moment when the little one puts its arms around you and says “I love you…” Otherwise, you nailed it.

    Reply

  7. Alison Armstrong Says:

    Being a teacher has definitely made me a fence sitter when it comes to deciding whether to have children. My colleague Jabiz – http://www.jabizraisdana.com/ – has created a blog for his daughters – http://dearkaia.blogspot.com/ – and he shares lots of photos and stories about what he and his daughters do together. It reminds me of all the wonderful things about being a parent.

    Take the good with the bad, enjoy the journey for the stories you’ll be able to tell 🙂

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Ha ha. Your comment got flagged as spam.

      And I hear you on teaching. Coming up with names I don’t associate with someone obnoxious is a bear. Some kids, though, I specifically want to meet their parents and say, “Tell me exactly how you raised her. Start to finish.”

      Reply

  8. gojulesgo Says:

    1,000 followers!!! Squee. CONGRATS! Okay. I have a deadline this morning, but I’ll be back later with a relevant comment that’ll just blow your mind. I swear on a bucket of Sonic food product.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      The funny thing is one of my oldest friends facebooked me yesterday saying that she promises she reads the blog, but never got around to subscribing but that she finally had. I looked and she was 999. I tried to convince her to unsubscribe and come back later.

      Reply

      • gojulesgo Says:

        999? Psh. That’s no friend. 🙂

        I can only IMAGINE the stories you’re getting right now. I’ve been shocked and horrified at some of the tales I’ve overheard. Oh! I know! You should come up with really gross/ridiculous stories to tell back. Then when you or your wife get a bad delivery anecdote, you could be all, “Oh, that’s terrible. But not as bad as this one woman I worked with who gave birth TO JUST A FACE.”

        Reply

  9. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

    I had a horror delivery.

    But.

    I never talk about it to people who are expecting.

    So.

    I will tell you that you are going to be great. And it is pretty much as you have said that it is. Although I’m only to 13. Still, spot on. I think it gets easier as they get older actually.

    But maybe not once they can drive.

    What do I know? I’m a crack ho.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Well, not to worry. There will never be a shortage of women to tell pregnant women birthing horror stories. Even if the pregnant women specifically ask them not to.

      Reply

  10. Soma Mukherjee Says:

    Hey you have done your homework and are well trained and how 😆
    infact now you can spook others too
    Babies the the sweetest things..and the moment you take them in your hand the very first time..you will forget all that you have been told…its bliss

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Maybe that’s it – it isn’t that people think “Gosh, I wish someone had been there to try and terrify me when I was pregnant. I’ll terrify them!” Maybe it’s more like “People spooked me, so I’m going to spook them.”

      Reply

  11. susielindau Says:

    You nailed it! Luckily it goes a much slower pace so you can “really enjoy” each of these wonderful phases!

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That’s the other funny part – people then say how it all goes too fast. It’s like the old joke about “The food here is terrible. And the portions are too small.”

      Reply

      • susielindau Says:

        Here’s the thing. It goes really slowly until your last child is in grade school. Then time begins to go by more quickly and the roller coaster ride begins. It hits light speed in high school and never slows down after that!

        Reply

  12. Lenore Diane Says:

    You are one smart Dad-to-be, Byronic. Truly – this was excellent!

    Reply

  13. pegoleg Says:

    Yeah, yeah, the baby’s all great and everything (except for all the really, REALLY bad stuff that might happen), but let me extend my congratulations for the important thing here – 1000 subscriptions!

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Thanks! I’ve been steadily slogging toward this point. I kind of had something to prove to myself – that I could get to a thousand without telling friends and facebook acquaintances, without putting pictures, etc., just on the merits of the writing. Now begins Phase 2: Operation Exploit Friends And Acquaintances.

      Reply

      • pegoleg Says:

        What do you mean without pictures? Something wrong with pictures? Oh, I see how it is with you writing purists, thinking you’re all better than those of us who resort to the Paint program in a pathetic attempt to garner laughs. Well let me tell you something, Mr. Buddy Boy…

        Reply

        • The Byronic Man Says:

          Oh, no, I just meant pictures of me. Well, half-face pictures have been okay…

          Reply

          • pegoleg Says:

            Oh, okay. That’s okay, then.

            I don’t know that pasting pictures of yourself all over the place constitutes an unfair advantage that would increase your subscriptions exponentially. It might, since you are exquisitely gorgeous. That tactic certainly works for Jules. She skates through the blogosphere on nothing but beauty…if you don’t count her mad, humor writing skills. 😉

            Reply

  14. sj Says:

    For me, the highlight of having children is seeing their faces when they find out that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.

    No, really.

    Reply

  15. Kansas Keeton Says:

    Joel, honestly, I am so happy for you. Of all the people I think, “Oooh, you’re having a baby? Ssst, Reeeeeallly?” you are certainly not on that list. Other than the fact that you are a man and that is not possible.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I don’t hold it against people, but I can’t swing with the whole “we’re pregnant” thing. “We’re” having a baby, but it seems obnoxious to claim any more providence to the pregnancy than architect and support crew.

      Reply

  16. Kansas Keeton Says:

    So, I had a previous comment that I edited which would’ve made my joke at the end there much more sensible and funny. But now it doesn’t make much sense and I can’t erase it. So it goes.

    Reply

  17. Jackie Cangro Says:

    I bet your poor wife is also getting the childbirth horror stories as well. It’s a strange thing that as soon as you announce you’re pregnant, other women want to share their awful experiences in the delivery room, and then say, “oh but it’s such a miracle.”

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Even if she specifically says she doesn’t want to hear the horror stories? She gets them. “Oh, I don’t blame you for not wanting to hear them. Because when I gave birth…”

      Reply

  18. tomwisk Says:

    When some testosterone loaded dude brags about the fact his wife and/or girlfriend is expecting, chuckle knowingly, look him in the eye and say “You’re the man.”

    Reply

  19. madtante Says:

    I think people who doomsday are probably going through that phase (whichever they tell about) or they were just reminiscing about how horrible it was. People like ME, who drive stationwagons, don’t have kids and wish they did, get all starry-eyed and stoopid. I guess that means it’s prolly a “other side is greener” sort of reaction.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Could be. There’s also such a “My pregnancy experience is more special than anyone else’s” that maybe people feel the need to share there’s, since it’s the most important one that ever happened.

      Reply

  20. She's a Maineiac Says:

    Oh, god, don’t you hate when people do that? I hated it too when I was first pregnant. My favorite was, “Oh! You’d better get some sleep now cuz you will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!” and by golly, they were right.

    I’m teasin’, B-man. You know I like to kid around…

    But, yeah, it’s true. No sleep. Ever. Again.

    Haha! I’m kidding. Seriously.

    You know what’s worse than all of this? The nonstop unwanted advice from people who have made it their sole purpose in life to tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong as a parent. By the time my second baby came around I would just put my hand up and say, ” I don’t care, this is how I’m raising my baby and if you don’t like it, that’s good because you’re not their mother.”

    Reply

  21. ghfool Says:

    Congratulations! btw, if you have a boy, he will parkour the crap out of your home. I have three boys and my furniture and appliances are nothing but an obstacle course to them. But, “It’s totally worth it, though.”

    Reply

  22. Michelle Gillies Says:

    No kiddies here, so no horror stories. Just remember there are a lot of people in the world (like me) that would give anything to be in your shoes (or in my case your wife’s). I would embrace the horror stories.

    Reply

  23. CJ Says:

    BAHAHAHA!! I have 10 yo twins and while I was pregnant I promised I’d never give advice unless asked. I was bombarded with never ending horrors of life with 2 babies. Anyway, at least at 10 they still think I know things and enjoy time with me. Great post!!

    Reply

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