Unsolicited Advice - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Unsolicited Advice

It will never cease to amaze me the "advice" or "guidance" people will try to give you when you're pregnant.

I have 8 weeks to go until little Victor's due date, and by the size of my belly (the checker at my grocery store yesterday asked if I was smuggling a watermelon out of the store), it's pretty obvious that I'm almost done.  Questions (from friends, acquaintances and strangers alike) have transitioned from "how are you feeling?" to "when are you taking time off?" and "how long will you be home with the baby?"  Truthfully, it's become quite an annoyance lately.  Let me give you an example of one of these conversations that REALLY bugs me:

          YOU:  "Are you taking time off before the baby is born?"

          ME:  "No, I'm working right up until he comes - that is, barring any unforeseen circumstances."

          YOU:  "Oh, no, you HAVE to take time off before the baby comes."

          ME:  "I do?"

          YOU:  "Yes, you HAVE to.  You need your rest and you'll want to have at least a week to get organized and ready.  You HAVE to take time off before."

          ME:  "Oh.  Mmmhmm."

This drives me up the wall.  You have NO IDEA what the process was when Billy and I made the decision about how much time we're taking off of work for the baby.  This means, you don't know what our financial situation is.  You don't know what the paid/unpaid leave situation is with my employer.  You don't know how I feel about my job.  Therefore, you have no business commenting one way or another about my decisions regarding leave from work. 

I know that everyone who has said something about this means well - in fact, everyone who has commented one way or another on my pregnancy at all has meant well.  I just want to bring to your attention how these little "tidbits" of advice or experience you've had can hurt someone's feelings without you even thinking about it. 

This particular line of questioning/advice only makes me feel judged as a new mother.  Does my not taking a week off before the baby is born make me a bad person?  Am I depriving my son of something by not taking time off beforehand?  Will people think that I'm putting my job before my family and that my priorities are backwards?  Am I already a terrible mother?

The answer is no.  I'm fine.  Whether or not women have a choice in the matter - some can't afford to take any leave at all - most of the time you'll find that she's doing what is best for her family...and that may not be the way you would have or did do it.   It's on par with saying you dislike the baby's name.  It's  not your choice, and the polite thing to do is to not say anything.  Go ahead and ask about my decisions how and when to take leave from work - I'll gladly tell you about it.  If you disagree with my choices, remember - this is MY son, MY pregnancy, and MY family.  If you don't like it - go have your own.

Anytime you use the phrase "you have to" or "you need to" or "you really should"...

... YOU NEED TO think carefully about what follows it. 
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