Finding out you’re pregnant is a
terrifying emotional and wonderful experience. Although there are few things as nerve-wracking as trying to shoot pee onto a tiny stick held in your shaking hands in the shadows of a dimly lit bathroom on Christmas morning (that was my experience, anyway) this is actually one of the easiest steps of the journey into parenthood. That moment in the bathroom is one that I have rarely found as the subject of Pinterest “How-To” posts and has yet to become a viral video featured on popular parenting blogs. This is a quiet (or maybe loud) moment that you have only to share with yourself, unless of course, you have invited someone to share it with you. There is no competition when it comes to the most innovative methods of peeing on a pregnancy test and no Pins on the 10 most creative ways you can hysterically wave your urine-covered stick in the air once the little plus sign shows up.
After that, though, the heat is on. There is hardly a memory or milestone that you can surpass and commemorate by simply taking a photo these days. From the moment you announce your pregnancy to your partner until your child’s first birthday and beyond, you must be prepared to spare no expense, be it emotional, physical, or financial, in order to capture each moment so that you can share it on social media in the hopes that it will go viral, landing you a guest spot on The Ellen Show, where you will inevitably receive the gift of your child’s college tuition paid for in full.
What are these key moments in your child’s first year, and how can you possibly ensure that each one will live up to the standard created for you by social media? Fear not, fellow parent. I am here to highlight many of these milestones for you so that you may begin to prepare the pre-planned candid moments of your child’s first year highlight reel.
Disclaimer: I do not for one second consider myself to be above doing any of the activities I have outlined below. In fact, I have participated in nearly all of them. But sometimes I have to stop and ask myself, “Did I really need to spend 7 hours on the Internet researching themes for my child’s first birthday party? Would people still have been excited if I simply posted a Facebook status that said “Hey guys, baby’s comin’, instead of the cutesy announcement photo that I used? If I hadn’t had a gender reveal party, would my son still be a boy? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
You get what I’m saying. Either way, here’s my take on…
How to Make a Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook-Worthy Journey
Through Your First Year of Parenthood in 8 Easy Steps
1. Announcing your pregnancy to your partner
There once was a time when you could simply walk into the room, eyes shining with happy tears, and announce, “I’m pregnant”. That time has gone. We are now in 2016, the year of the big announcement. This will be your first of many big announcements, and if you want it to be worthy of a Facebook or Instagram post, you need to get creative. Did you know that there are at least 41 ways to tell your partner that you’re pregnant? And here I thought there was only one!
2. Announcing your pregnancy to your parents and family
You thought telling your partner about your pregnancy was serious business? Get ready to sweat. Now you have to come up with the most unique and emotional way to break the news to your folks. When our plan to get Mama, Papa, Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Burgers from A&W tanked because they apparently no longer sell them in their designated wrappers, but rather, some boring eco-friendly baby-announcement ruining packaging, my family sat around my parents’ kitchen table eating fries while Stu nervously said, “Sooooo… looks like there’s going to be a new Grandpa and Grandma Patton in the family”. Believe it or not, they appeared to be just as excited as the people on the commercial I was trying to copy, even though they had no idea why we didn’t bring Teen Burgers when that’s really all anyone wanted.
3. Announcing your pregnancy to your friends and the world
There are 41 ways to tell your partner you are pregnant and 10 ways to tell your parents you’re pregnant. Could there possibly be anything left when sharing your pregnancy with the world at large? Never fear. There are at least 60 ways to tell all of the people you’ve known since high school but no longer talk to that you are expecting. This means that you now have at least 111 different ways to tell people that you will soon become a parent. Please do your research on each method and choose carefully.
4. Announcing your baby’s gender to the world (should you choose to find out)
Will you do it with balloons? A cake? A skywriter? Pink or blue fireworks? Your imagination is your only limitation. Please don’t ever just say, “It’s a boy!” We need visuals. And they need to be sparkly and loud.
5. Announcing the birth of your baby to the world
Will you go with the classic “Welcome to the world, Baby “x” weighing “y” pounds and “z” inches long, born at 1:23 am” caption alongside a blurry iPhone photo on Instagram and Facebook? Or have you got something a little craftier up your sleeve? The answer to this question is no. You are going to be so exhausted that this is one time you get a free pass.
6. Your baby’s first everything
Baby’s first smile? Baby’s first tooth? Baby’s first steps? DON’T YOU DARE FORGET TO WRITE THAT DOWN, YOU NEGLIGENT PARENT, YOU. And if you do, prepare to spend hours scouring through every text you ever sent to all of your closest friends and family members to see if there is any comment or piece of photographic evidence that can remind you when these special moments occurred so that you can write them down in the well-meaning baby book haunting the top drawer of your bedside table.
7. Month to Month Baby Photos
This is a lovely idea and I really do have to hand it to the parents out there taking photos of their child in front of the same wall every day for 18 years. I thought that this would be an easy task, especially since I was home with Beckett every day for his first year. But for some reason, this ended up being a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. By the time I had gotten him dressed into sweatpants or whatever clothes happened to be clean that day, I would realize that it was the day I was supposed to take a new monthly photo, but would then put it off until he was wearing a cuter outfit. When the next day rolled around, we would be out at the library or the grocery store and it would get put off again. When B started to become more mobile, it became even more difficult to actually capture him sitting still for our photo shoot. I’m tired just thinking about it.
8. Your Baby’s First Birthday
Decorations? Fancy cake? Gold foil #1 balloon? Screen printed custom first birthday T-Shirt? Semi-professional photographer? Cake smash? Make sure that you have planned each of these details to the letter if you want to have a successful, Pinterest-worthy first birthday for your child. As you know, he or she will not remember any of this, but this is your big moment to make your Instagram page shine.
As I explained to my husband, our baby will not remember the details on the cake or the invitations or even the gifts from his first birthday. He won’t know the difference between his designated monthly photos and all of the rest of the pictures in the albums filled to the brim with photos in our living room. Because he was never there, he definitely won’t know anything about the gender reveal or the ways we announced his upcoming arrival.
But it doesn’t really matter. If I’m being totally honest, I wanted to celebrate the moments in my life that I knew I would never get to see again. These are “firsts” for me as much as they are for my son. Social media has changed the norm for what acknowledging these milestones looks like, but if throwing a big party to find out the gender of your child or announcing your pregnancy by sending trained carrier pigeons to deliver the message on custom stationery alongside a collage of 3D ultrasound photos isn’t your style, then don’t feel bad about it. At the end of the day, you get to make the choice about how you want to tackle each and every aspect of your journey through parenthood. Want to go nuts with photos and decorations and glitter every step of the way? Awesome. Want to keep things low key and quiet? Go for it. You don’t owe a thing to anybody, and you know what works best for you and your family.
Sometimes it feels like, as a parent, we are in an imaginary competition with all of the other moms and dads out there to see who can hit each of our child’s milestones in the most extravagant, social-media friendly way, and the parent with the most “likes” at the end of the day is the winner. What we sometimes forget, though, is that no amount of “likes” will change the way our kids feel about us. All they care about is that we’re present. They don’t care if we’re present carrying the most expensive diaper bag or pushing them in the fanciest strollers. It makes no difference to them how we announced their gender or their arrival or their first poop on the potty. It just matters that we’re there. The love we pour out on our kids can’t be measured in likes or shares or dollar signs, and we can’t base the quality of our parenting on those things either.
I love taking tons of photos of my son so that I can relive these days again in the future, but I don’t want to be so busy choosing Instagram filters for them that I miss out on the real thing today.