It was so, so, so perfect. That shit was beige, white, and a soft muted pink. The window had a fucking pastel bunting, the plush armchair had a rocker, and the crib matched absolutely everything. She must have waited to take pictures until the light slanted oh-so-diaphanously. Clearly, this room had risen from the depths of Pinterest to become a real boy. I saw it during an early morning Facebook scroll and I stopped, looked, and sort of chuckled at new parents and their spare time. Then the jealousy roared in.
I mean, she had a crib. We didn’t have a crib, matching or otherwise. We knew our son was going to sleep with us before he was born, so we sidecarred a co-sleeper onto the queen-sized bed in our messy, clothes-strewn, non-Pinterest-worthy master bedroom.
We knew we were going to cloth diaper, so we didn’t have a cutesy diaper cake at our baby shower. Hell, we didn’t even have a baby shower, because we live hundreds of miles from family and all our friends were broke-ass grad students.
We did convert an Ethan Allen wet bar into a changing table, but that wasn’t adorable so much as cheap and functional. It didn’t match anything, much less the busted-ass rocker we got on sale at Ye Olde Baby Big Box Store. We just kind of stuffed all the baby things into a room, which happened to be yellow and which we didn’t happen to repaint, along with a dead aunt’s dresser and some Dr. Seuss decals.
I know we made the best decisions for us. I’m not a Pinterest-y type of gal, and ribbons make me vomit in my mouth. So does wasting money on a baby bed set with blanket, bumpers, and curtains. But I still find myself mourning my not-picture-perfect pregnancy and my son’s not-picture-perfect babyhood. Unfortunately, that mourning comes out in a blinding jealousy. Perfect nurseries make me seethe. Diaper cakes make me stabby.
There was nothing Pinterest about my pregnancy. I vomited. I got prenatal depression and anxiety, so I spent a good amount of time choking out panic attacks over Chick-Fil-A sweet tea. With that going on, plus a midwife yelling at me to get my blood sugar down, I never got that pregnancy “glow.”
And I know I’m not alone. Type “percentage of people who hate being pregnant” into Google and fall down a mineshaft of misery. There are articles about why women should talk about it, articles about hating it and not apologizing for it, articles about why women hate it, and tips to help you hate it less. One article is simply titled: “Pregnant and Miserable: Prenatal Depression.”
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “between 14-23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy.” That’s a hell of a lot of women who don’t feel like redoing a nursery, much less being the center of attention at the baby shower.
But then the depression wears off or gets treated, and suddenly, you’re left with your life in your hands and your baby in your arms. You see the Pinterest nurseries and think, why didn’t I do that? The glow on the pregnant mother’s face becomes a smug little smirk of superiority. She glows. You didn’t. You didn’t put up Facebook posts that ended in hearts, that showed blowing curtains, and perfectly stacked baby toys. You, seasoned mother, know a baby will never play with those toys. But it doesn’t matter. There’s a theme. You had no theme. You didn’t even have a color scheme. Like us, you threw things in a room and hoped for the best.
I know that life isn’t like social media. That beige nursery will be swiftly besmirched with baby poop, baby vomit, and baby pee. Mom will leak milk all over that white rocker, even if she’s not breastfeeding. And the baby will scream, and Mom will go to the crib, again and again and again and again. A
A Pinterest nursery isn’t protection against the slings and arrows of everyday parenthood. She will dress her baby in a lily-white outfit with ruffles. The bow will be the same size as the baby’s head. And the baby will take this opportunity to shit violently. I can feel good about that. It’s happened to all of us.
But some part of me will still miss that Pinterest nursery. It’s a symbol, somehow, of that moment when parenthood seems like that perfect dream: You feel the perfect baby kick gently inside you as you envision tea parties, mother-daughter dates, gigantic floppy bows, and rainbow tutus. You stand at the cusp of this great adventure of parenting, all hope, all joy, all beige and pastel peace.
Some of us got those moments. Some of us didn’t. And the ones who didn’t are allowed, even though it’s ugly and even though it hurts, to envy the ones who did. So hate away. But know it’s a reflection of yourself, not the orderly nursery on social media.