What I Learned in my Due-Date Group (Also, I Had a Baby)

 

After the death of my first son at 33 weeks, I was hesitant to say anything when I soon became pregnant again. As part of my desire to be more involved with this second pregnancy, I joined the due date group on my pregnancy tracker app for the month I was due. Over 10,000 women due the same month from around the English-speaking world joined the group, and the posts were…interesting. Some of the information exchanged was helpful, but by and large, the posts broke down into two categories: ranting and seeking advice. Some posts were shocking in their drama, while others made you roll your eyes. Here’s what I learned from reading the concerns of other young women.

Having babies out of wedlock

Several ladies posted the dirty details of the trials they faced in dealing with their baby daddy or his family. Some women caught their boyfriends cheating on them. Many of them felt their baby daddies were not good providers, preferring to spend most of the day playing video games, drinking, or hanging out with the guys instead of helping to prepare for their child’s arrival. There were many tales of financial woes — one or both parents were unemployed, so how were they going to pay for a baby? — as well as quandaries about whose last name to give the baby.

The overall tenor of the posts was “me vs. baby daddy,” and the majority of the complaints could have been solved by doing one thing — not having children outside of wedlock. Post after post I found myself thinking “this wouldn’t be an issue if you had gotten married” or “this is what you get for having a baby with someone you don’t intend to marry.”

The comments usually focused on how to get the guy to come around to the mom’s wishes or encouraged the woman to ditch the boyfriend. No one ever said the obvious: if you don’t want to marry this guy, why are you having a baby with him? If you did say something along those lines, I’m sure you would be called out for being judgmental or pushing your hateful Judeo-Christian morals on everyone else.

I feel sorry for these children that seemed destined to live with parents that are pitted against one another or absent. The amount of venom and disdain these women felt for their baby’s father made you wonder why they ever slept with them in the first place.

Advocating for one’s self in the face of dismissive healthcare providers

Another topic of conversation was what to do when you have a concern about your baby and your doctor is dismissive. Ok, true, there’s a lot of anxiety that leads women to focus on small things that aren’t really a thing. But I found several posts where women described very serious concerns that were completely ignored. In some instances, I strongly encouraged women to be evaluated in the emergency department or switch OB practices altogether due to the appalling response by the practice.

While childbirth is considerably safer today than it has been historically, it is in no way without its potential perils. Early on in my pregnancy, my service (cardiothoracic surgery) was consulted emergently on a 36-year-old lady of 39 weeks gestation with a suspected aortic dissection. After she became suddenly unstable, the baby was delivered via crash c-section, and the mom was sent to us for emergency surgery. She died before we could operate.

Of course, this is not the norm, but preeclampsia, stroke, liver failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation, pregnancy-induced cardiomyopathy, postpartum hemorrhage, infection/sepsis, and severe carpal tunnel requiring surgery are all potential complications of pregnancy. I have witnessed or personally experienced several of these problems, and they are not to be taken lightly when they present. It was shocking to see how many women with clear signs of preeclampsia or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy were told not to worry their pretty little heads about it. Both of these conditions can be deadly if not treated and monitored.

The best thing pregnant women (or really anyone for that matter) can do is to advocate for themselves. Fortunately, many of the comments on these posts encouraged the authors to seek help and push to be taken seriously. I was surprised at how passive many of these women were, repeatedly saying they didn’t want to bother or annoy their OB practice with their questions. After my own experience with stillbirth, I am a big advocate for getting checked out if something spikes your mom sense. It was clear that women did not feel empowered or comfortable pushing back to have their concerns addressed.

Several posts talked about reduced fetal movement, and women would often say they were going for a routine appointment in a few days, so they would bring it up then. Reduced fetal movement needs to be addressed quickly, not in a few days. I’m not sure how we encourage people to advocate for themselves and take their health concerns seriously, but I have seen that head-in-the-sand approach cost people their lives.

There are rampant mental health problems

If I had a dollar for every time a mom-to-be started her post with “I struggle with anxiety and depression” it would have paid my hospital bill. On posts discussing breastfeeding, a commonly cited reason for not breastfeeding was mental health. The amount of anxiety and depression was alarming. Growing up, these were always diagnoses held by a fairly small population. Now, it seems a large number of people are on psych meds for their anxiety and depression. What has happened to our culture that everyone seems to be wracked with anxiety?

Now, I will be the first to admit I was very anxious during this pregnancy given my last pregnancy turned so tragic. But that would be categorized as situational anxiety, not the long-term, preexisting anxiety described by these ladies. What’s more, the anxiety seems to create tremendous inaction in these moms. The hubs and I got a Snoo bassinet for our little guy, and since it’s a “smart” bassinet, there is some nuance to using it, so I joined a Snoo parents Facebook group. The amount of handwringing in this group over pretty inconsequential things is mind-boggling.

One could argue that the type of person to buy or rent a Snoo is prone to anxiety as they feel the need to drop a significant amount of money on a bassinet that is supposed to prevent SIDS, but even then the anxiety demonstrated in this parents is puzzling. There are several posts about how to transition their babies from being swaddled with arms down to swaddled with arms out — I’m so nervous to let my baby’s arms out of the swaddle. Should I do one arm or two? How do I pick which arm? It’s time for my baby to go to the crib; how do I transition my little one to the crib? I’m terrified of what my baby will do if it’s not in the Snoo! My baby keeps wanting to roll onto her tummy when she sleeps, how do I keep her on her back?! (The answer is: you let her roll on her stomach)

The concept of trial and error seems to elude this crowd. One night of poor sleep sends them into a tailspin, and they end up on Facebook agonizing over why their child didn’t sleep well last night. Things that would never have crossed my parents’ mind to worry about now become major causes of stress for these parents. Why the change? Is it our affluence and lack of adversity? Social media? Businesses fear-mongering? Or a heightened awareness of possible morbidity and mortality and a driving need for as much mitigation as possible?

With mental health chic exploding on TicTok and the astronomical rise in mental illness in young people, it seems these parents are just keeping up with the current zeitgeist. It’s not healthy. How do we counteract it? People appear to be losing their ability to make simple decisions. And that is a sign that our society is not doing well.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for — the cutest baby ever. Antonin joined us in March, and is full of personality already. The photos are here on the member feed.

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  1. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    May he be a blessing to you all the days that you share, as my son and daughter have been to me.

    Thank you for a profound post.

    • #1
  2. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Vicryl Contessa: Antonin joined us in early March, and is full of personality already. 

    Great name!

    • #2
  3. Captain French Moderator
    Captain French
    @AlFrench

    Congratulations, VC!

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Captain French (View Comment):

    Congratulations, VC!

    Indeed! Congratulations, VC!

    Grandma’s advice to my mom was “let him cry … it’s good for his lungs.” Grandma only had seven.

    • #4
  5. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    Percival (View Comment):

    Captain French (View Comment):

    Congratulations, VC!

    Indeed! Congratulations, VC!

    Grandma’s advice to my mom was “let him cry … it’s good for his lungs.” Grandma only had seven.

    Cry it out is ok to a certain extent and at a certain age. He’s not there yet. But we will not be helicopter parenting him, I can assure you.

    • #5
  6. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    That third photo — looks like he’s rendering a decision right on the bench.

    Adorable!  And congratulations.

    And you’re right on about the baby momma drama.

    I am reminded of the three easiest things to do to keep your life out of the gutter:

    • don’t use drugs
    • do graduate high school
    • do not create a child outside of marriage

    These three things together virtually guarantee a successful life.  Failure of all three strongly indicates a failure to thrive in the world.  As ever, our stuffy-old morals are distilled wisdom.

    • #6
  7. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    Most adorable little fella since (insert dates of my own son and his children’s’ births , but). Simply a wonderful guy. Yay Mom n Dad! We never tire of adorableness. 

    • #7
  8. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Thanks for returning to post, VContessa. 

    • #8
  9. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Congratulations!

    • #9
  10. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    BDB (View Comment):

    That third photo — looks like he’s rendering a decision right on the bench.

    Adorable! And congratulations.

    And you’re right on about the baby momma drama.

    I am reminded of the three easiest things to do to keep your life out of the gutter:

    • don’t use drugs
    • do graduate high school
    • do not create a child outside of marriage

    These three things together virtually guarantee a successful life. Failure of all three strongly indicates a failure to thrive in the world. As ever, our stuffy-old morals are distilled wisdom.

    Really.   The bar isn’t that high.  

    • #10
  11. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Vicryl Contessa: Antonin joined us in early March, and is full of personality already.

    Great name!

    Agreed!

    • #11
  12. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    BDB (View Comment):

    That third photo — looks like he’s rendering a decision right on the bench.

    Adorable! And congratulations.

    And you’re right on about the baby momma drama.

    I am reminded of the three easiest things to do to keep your life out of the gutter:

    • don’t use drugs
    • do graduate high school
    • do not create a child outside of marriage

    These three things together virtually guarantee a successful life. Failure of all three strongly indicates a failure to thrive in the world. As ever, our stuffy-old morals are distilled wisdom.

    Those are the things Ben Shapiro always touts as ways to keep yourself out of poverty.

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    What a fantastic baby! You should all be blessed to raise and share with him a full and wonderful life!

    • #13
  14. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    To caption the photos:

    1. Dad: “Nino, we’re getting you a Golden Retriever puppy.”

    2. Mom: “No, another cat.”

    3. Dad: “Or, perhaps, a brother named Clarence.”

    • #14
  15. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Vicryl Contessa: Antonin joined us in early March, and is full of personality already.

    Great name!

    Agreed!

    Actually, he is really named after Antonin Dvorak. We were in Prague while we were trying to get pregnant, and after I took A picture of mustang in front of the Dvorak statue, he looked at me and said “you know what name I’ve always liked? Antonin.” I said oh I really like that too. But yes sharing a name with a wonderful juris is also pretty great. We know one of Scalia‘s daughters- in-law, and she was tickled when she found out we were naming him Antonin. 

    • #15
  16. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    Congratulations! He looks like an absolute riot.

    Why the change? Is it our affluence and lack of adversity? Social media? Businesses fear-mongering? Or a heightened awareness of possible mobidity and mortality and a driving need for as much mitigation as possible? With mental health chic exploding on TicTok and the astronomical rise in mental illness in young people, it seems these parents are just keeping up with the current zeitgeist. It’s not healthy. How do we counteract it? People appear to be losing their ability to make simple decisions. And that is a sign that our society is not doing well.

    Amen to this.

    Parenting used to be a normal thing. Everyone did it. Everyone was surrounded by kids. People grew up in large families, which provided plenty of opportunities to learn the necessary skills. The transition from singleness to marriage to parenthood was a relatively seamless one.

    But now, marriage is aspirational rather than expected. The average person has little or no exposure to young children. Society is ambivalent (or even hostile) to the endeavor, and there are no clear expectations. Knowledge which used to be widespread is now gone, so parents outsource their decisions to “experts” within the medical-therapeutic industrial complex who issue ever-shifting diktats and further derange and confuse an already deranged and confused population.

    It’s a terrible situation. Family is desperately important, but 75 percent of Americans are so warped, they really shouldn’t be raising kids. Popular culture is a toxic brew, and things get worse and worse and worse. God help us.

    (Here I am, talking myself into crippling anxiety!)

    • #16
  17. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    To caption the photos:

    1. Dad: “Nino, we’re getting you a Golden Retriever puppy.”

    2. Mom: “No, another cat.”

    3. Dad: “Or, perhaps, a brother named Clarence.”

    Thomas would check a couple boxes for us, but unfortunately that name has been ruined for me so we will have to find another name. Clarence not it either.

    • #17
  18. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Vicryl Contessa (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Vicryl Contessa: Antonin joined us in early March, and is full of personality already.

    Great name!

    Agreed!

    Actually, he is really named after Antonin Dvorak.

    That was my first assumption. I hadn’t even thought of Scalia until you mentioned it.

    • #18
  19. dajoho Member
    dajoho
    @dajoho

    VC – congratulations!  He is wonderful!  Welcome to earth Antonin!

    • #19
  20. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    You make an important point.  Never let Docs dismiss your perceived concerns.  Demand an answer.  It’s your body.  If something isn’t right, you are the one who would know.

    And congrats on Antonin, named after one of everyone’s favorite composers.

    • #20
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m so very happy for you, VC! Thanks for this terrific news. Many blessings always,
    WC

    • #21
  22. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    Congratulations!  Fantastic news that you must be so happy about.  Remember how happy you are to have him when he hits his teens.

    In the last picture, little Antonin seems a bit perplexed about the company mum and da keep.

    • #22
  23. LC Member
    LC
    @LidensCheng

    Congratulations! Also, those expressions are fantastic.

    • #23
  24. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    BDB (View Comment):

    That third photo — looks like he’s rendering a decision right on the bench.

    Adorable! And congratulations.

    And you’re right on about the baby momma drama.

    I am reminded of the three easiest things to do to keep your life out of the gutter:

    • don’t use drugs
    • do graduate high school
    • do not create a child outside of marriage

    These three things together virtually guarantee a successful life. Failure of all three strongly indicates a failure to thrive in the world. As ever, our stuffy-old morals are distilled wisdom.

    I always told my students (all male high school), the process is:

    1. Fall in love.
    2. Get married.
    3. Have kids.

    IN THAT ORDER!

    • #24
  25. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Vicryl Contessa: Antonin joined us in early March, and is full of personality already.

    Great name!

    Agreed!

    I am a Dvorak fan and I approve. 

    • #25
  26. Vicryl Contessa Thatcher
    Vicryl Contessa
    @VicrylContessa

    Some Call Me …Tim (View Comment):

    Congratulations! Fantastic news that you must be so happy about. Remember how happy you are to have him when he hits his teens.

    In the last picture, little Antonin seems a bit perplexed about the company mum and da keep.

    Hah! We were at the pediatrician’s office. 

    • #26
  27. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Vicryl Contessa: And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for — the cutest baby ever.

    Congratulations, but nope, my grandson (born May 2017) has permanent rights to that title. :) 

    • #27
  28. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Vicryl Contessa (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Vicryl Contessa: Antonin joined us in early March, and is full of personality already.

    Great name!

    Agreed!

    Actually, he is really named after Antonin Dvorak. We were in Prague while we were trying to get pregnant, and after I took A picture of mustang in front of the Dvorak statue, he looked at me and said “you know what name I’ve always liked? Antonin.” I said oh I really like that too. But yes sharing a name with a wonderful juris is also pretty great. We know one of Scalia‘s daughters- in-law, and she was tickled when she found out we were naming him Antonin.I

     

    If, after listening to the final movement of “The New World”, you don’t feel like you could rip mountains apart with your bare hands, you likely do not have a pulse. 

    • #28
  29. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Percival (View Comment):

    Captain French (View Comment):

    Congratulations, VC!

    Indeed! Congratulations, VC!

    Grandma’s advice to my mom was “let him cry … it’s good for his lungs.” Grandma only had seven.

    My thoughts reading some of those over-anxious-mother stories was that they need to find some older women (grandma-types if your own grandma isn’t available) to hang out with. If nothing else, they’d discover that babies have a really wide range of “normal” behaviors. 

    The youngest woman in our church choir is very pregnant. Her husband is also in the choir, and he’s more nervous than she is. They eagerly gather information and experiences from the many grandmas and grandpas who also sing in the choir, and the more they are hearing, the more relaxed they seem to be getting. 

    • #29
  30. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    If, after listening to the final movement of “The New World”, you don’t feel like you could rip mountains apart with your bare hands, you likely do not have a pulse.

    • #30
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