When I was pregnant, I had an app on my phone put out by the What To Expect When You’re Expecting people. I discovered at some point toward the end that the app linked to their forums, and lo there was much rejoicing, because I spent a lot of time in the last few months sitting and/or moping, and those forums provided no shortage of entertainment. You see, there are the forums at large, and then there is your “home board”, where you can interact with other moms (or “mamas” as they tend to call each other) who are due the same month you are. I very quickly learned that women who spend a lot of time posting on pregnancy forums think that they are the first and only person to ever have experienced pregnancy before, and also tend to have very strong opinions, and tend to surround themselves (intentionally or unintentionally, I’m not sure) with a lot of drama. This combination of factors leads to a lot of posts that basically boil down to “I am the most uncomfortable pregnant lady there ever was, so I’m going to ask my doctor to induce me a month early, and my husband has never so much as washed a spoon or put a sock into the laundry but I somehow expect to be pleasantly surprised by an abrupt shift in behaviour and increase in maturity upon the arrival of our baby, and also all I got for my baby shower was BABY CLOTHES, not the organic bibs washed in angel tears that I specifically registered for, I mean seriously, what is wrong with people?”
I also spent a lot of time in the first few months of Ellie’s life sitting, trapped under an eating baby or a baby who refused to nap in her crib (I’m referring to one baby here, not two separate babies, and that baby is Ellie, just in case you’re easily confused) and the posts got even more sad/comical as the April babies were born, when the formerly pregnant ladies were positively SHOCKED that their useless husbands were still useless, and their friends seemed to have abandoned them (probably due in part to the attitudes reflected in the angel tear bib scenario above), and they were very lonely and/or overwhelmed and kind of disappeared into their babies. One thing I noticed over and over again was that a lot of these women needed very badly to believe that their specific baby was a Very Special and Advanced sort of baby, and this led to posts about how this baby said his first word at the age of 3 months, and that baby was crawling at 4 months, and some other baby solved Fermat’s Last Theorem at just 6 weeks. There was a constant flow of posts attributing preferences and personality traits to these babies that babies just don’t have (mostly because they are babies) but none was quite so entertaining as the post one woman wrote in which she said, “I know my little one is only 3 months old, but I’ve started planning her first birthday party. She really likes birds and the colour red, so I’m thinking I’m going to do sugar cookies in the shape of sparrows and cover them in red icing. Do you think it’s safe to go ahead with these plans, or will her likes/dislikes change a lot in the next 9 months?”
I just … I can’t even. Ellie is almost 8 months old at this point, and I probably can’t list 5 things that I am certain she likes. Okay, I’ll try: mango kiwi applesauce, yanking on my wet hair when we’re at the pool, the cats, hopping around in her jolly jumper, and requiring an urgent change of clothing when we’re running late for an outing or appointment. (Sadly, none of these items would make a really good theme for a first birthday party, so I think the theme of her party will be Come Admire Our Cute One-Year-Old Baby.) Anyway, I can kind of see how people would get confused about the whole First Word Situation, because babies start making sounds that bear a close resemblance to words we WANT them to say, like when they start saying “mummm-mummm-mummm” or “da-da-da-da-da” and we hope they’re addressing us personally and expressing gratitude for all of the time and energy we’ve invested in their care thus far, but they are just SOUNDS at that point, and telling people your baby is talking at 4 months old just makes you look kind of silly. HOWEVER, I do have to tell you that yesterday when I handed Ellie a Farley’s Biscuit, she looked at it in her hand and looked back at me and said, very loudly and clear as day, “YUM.” It was distinct enough that Mike and I turned to each other and said, “Did she just say … ?” and “Why yes, I think she did!” I assume this was just a (hilarious) coincidence, but if not, the girl sure takes after her mother. If she’s this wowed by bland rice cereal in cookie form, wait until she gets her tiny hands on an OREO.*
* I do not plan to give the baby an Oreo. Just in case you thought I had lost my mind. Also, if I had Oreos, I certainly wouldn’t be SHARING them with a BABY.