02/06/2013 11:52 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Confessions of a Pregnant Know-It-All

This is pregnant me.

I read every parenting book, went to tons of classes and felt completely prepared to be a mom. I silently criticized parents on the street, telling myself I would raise my kid differently. I was a pregnant know-it-all:


This is, "I just had a baby and have no idea what I am doing, I am totally exhausted, insecure about everything I do, haven't showered since before my baby was born, am wondering why everything isn't everything as easy as it sounded in the parenting books, and tell me why again I took a birthing/newborn care class from a woman who had never had a baby?" me:


I know that's a mouthful, but it's the only way I can describe myself in this picture. I am passed out in bed next to a wide-awake baby. She was way smaller than I had imagined and it freaked me out.

No matter how many books you read or classes you take, nothing can prepare you for motherhood. Now that I am a mom, I never judge parents with screaming children because usually, my daughter was the one throwing the temper tantrum earlier that day. My child is now a toddler and I haven't bought What to Expect in the Toddler Years because I know that the only thing I can expect is the unexpected.

That's why, when my husband and I went to the dentist for a cleaning, I said nothing to the pregnant know-it-all nurse, because I was once in her shoes. See, usually one of us watches our daughter while the other one is getting their teeth cleaned. There was a scheduling error that day and they had us getting our teeth cleaned at the same time. The pregnant nurse suggested that the receptionist watch my toddler. I knew this wouldn't work, because she doesn't like strangers, but I decided to go along with it. Of course, our daughter flipped out.

Next, the nurse suggested we put our toddler in her car seat so she could watch me get my teeth cleaned. I knew this wouldn't work either, because my child was antsy from the car ride and I don't know, maybe watching her mom get her teeth cleaned would scare her? Sure enough, the second the dentist started cleaning my teeth, she screamed "Mommy!" Then, the pregnant nurse made some balloons out of medical gloves and started dancing in front of her. This made matters much worse, and the dentist decided he would change his schedule so that I could watch my daughter while my husband got his cleaning done. Then I would get mine done afterwards.

When I was watching my daughter calmly play in the waiting room, I wondered why I had bothered trying to make something work that I knew would not work. I think the reason why is because I was once the pregnant know-it-all who thought a 1-year-old could sit silently in her car seat while watching her mom get her teeth cleaned. Or that a kid would have no problem being watched by a complete stranger. Toddlers are so easy, right? I had sympathy for the nurse and didn't want to burst her baby bubble. I am confident she went home that day thinking, "Wow, that kid was tough. My baby will be different."

Since I was so unprepared for everything parent and baby-related, I always wonder if I should be brutally honest when a pregnant women tells me her plans for a perfect delivery and easy transition into motherhood, or if I should just smile and nod. No matter what I say, there is nothing anyone can say that can prepare a new parent. But then again, I wish someone could have told me about the hair loss, bloating, exhaustion, crying and utter confusion that comes along with becoming a first-time parent. But can you really ever explain it? Is it something you just have to experience?

I have no answers. What do you think? Should you be completely honest to a pregnant first-time mom or should you let them live carefree until the baby bomb drops?

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