a visit from the judging fairy

ramona had her four-month check-up yesterday. i don’t know what’s up with the local pediatric practice. every single time we have an appointment there, they find some way to fuck it up. the first time we saw the doctor there, they had her name wrong. they thought she was named winona. the doctor wanted to see her again a week later to make sure she was gaining weight well, having just been released from the NICU, but when we arrived for our appointment, no one understood why we were there. we tried to explain that the doctor had simply asked us to make an appointment, so we had. no, we weren’t concerned about her health. yes, she was eating well. no, we aren’t having any feeding difficulties. when we originally scheduled her two-month appointment, they wouldn’t do her vaccinations because it was too soon after her heb B shot when she was released from the NICU & they were worried insurance wouldn’t cover it. so we had to come back a week later. yesterday, they had somehow managed to schedule us with the wrong doctor.

so, we saw a different pediatrician yesterday. it’s a good thing we aren’t concerned about ramona’s health at all. if we were, i would really be thinking twice about this pediatric practice. but since she is pretty healthy baby…whatever. call her by the wrong name, book us in to the wrong doctor, i don’t really care.

this doctor was unaware that ramona is a preemie & a NICU graduate. for her age, she is only in the 7th percentile, height-wise. he was like, “well, the good news is that she IS growing. the bad news is that she is very, very small. so let’s talk about what we might be able to do to help her grow better.” i was like, “you know she was seven weeks premature, right?” & he was like, “OH! okay, let me see where she’s at with her corrected age.” he did a few calculations on his computer & was like, “OH! okay, for her gestational age, she’s in the 62nd percentile for height & 94th for weight! so it’s probably not a good idea to keep using food as a pacifier, because she’s getting a little chunky.” all right, buddy. whatever.

he also confirmed that she is TEETHING! i knew it! she’s been drooling like a maniac & the aofre-mentioned screaming…i kept telling people, “i think she’s teething,” & they were like, “no way, she’s way too young.” in yo’ tall bitches’ faces! (to quote one eva pigford.) i’ll never doubt my mom instincts again.

she was smiling at the doctor & being a charming little beast…right up until she got her shots. & then she cried & cried. poor little lady. i wish i could have gotten the shots for her. it was so sad to watch the smile disappear off her face & be replaced with confused sobs.

when we got back to the house, jared’s parents were there. they took ramona for the evening so that jared & i could out for dinner. yesterday was our sixth anniversary! who could have foreseen six years ago that we would still be together after all this time, having babies & all that domestic crap? we went to 715 & lived it up, ordering appetizers, drinks, & desserts with our dinner. jared was like, “we should probably make it a priority to get out & do this once a month,” but i pointed out that babysitters are really expensive. i mean, i guess we could budget for it…or hire a teenager, maybe? we know some people with teenage daughters who do some babysitting. maybe a babysitting trade with another couple with a kid?

so, on the topic of parents judging parents…i am starting to understand. i mixed it up a bit with some other moms recently on the topic of babies (little, little babies, like ramona’s age) watching TV. they were saying things like, “he’s a little couch potato already!” & “she just loves to watch cartoons!” i was flabbergasted. i thought everyone knew about the APA’s guidelines that babies not get any screen time whatsoever before the age of two? i also thought that everyone knew that babies at this age can barely even focus their eyes. if they are staring at the TV, they are probably just being hypnotized by the flickering light or drawn to the contrast between the TV & the wall behind it or something. there’s no way a ten-week-old baby is, like, a really big fan of bugs bunny or whatever. one mom was like, “i can’t wait until my baby is old enough to watch ‘sesame street’!” what the fuck? why are you looking forward to your baby being sucked into the gaping maw of mass media & consumer culture? she was like, “my first word was ‘big bird’!” whaaaaat? if ramona’s first word was “big bird,” i would honestly feel that i had failed as a parent in some fundamental way, i won’t even lie.

when i inquired about all the TV-watching going on, everyone was quick to explain that they would NEVER use the TV as a babysitter. that they aren’t like those other, lazy, neglectful parents out there who just plunk their kids in front of cartoons & call it parenting. apparently they just…find it funny for their babies to watch TV? it’s unclear. i think it is actually more understandable to use the TV as a babysitter than to just let your kids watch TV because you legitimately think it’s good for them (“‘sesame street’ helps them learn to count!”) or you think it’s cute or something. we can all relate to needing ten minutes to finish the dishes or grab a quick shower or snarf down some lunch, right? that’s where TV-as-babysitter comes in & i find that so much more reasonable than letting baby watch TV because you think she likes it when she isn’t even developmentally capable of focusing her eyes yet.

one person was like, “i didn’t let my oldest watch Tv when he was a baby, but now that i have more kids, i am not going to deprive my older son just to protect baby from TV.” deprive? of TV? like it’s, i don’t know, water or shelter? i mean, i get it, if i had, like, a four-year-old that was used to getting to watch TV & i suddenly put the kibosh on it, i would certainly expect more than a few tantrums, & i probably wouldn’t want to deal with it if i had a tiny baby in the mix as well. i’m not saying she should eliminate TV due to the baby. but using the word “deprive” is both telling & somewhat alarming.

i seriously try not to judge. when someone talks about letting baby watch a little TV, i’m like, “hey, i don’t know her life. if it keeps baby quiet for 15 minutes so she can get something important done–i get it. it happens. we can’t be jesters for our babies 24 hours a day.” but when they go on to elaborate that they just think their baby really ENJOYS TV & isn’t that so cute, i can feel the judging rising to the surface.

so. ciara’s big books of crap she will judge you for:
1. enormous baby headbands on babies that don’t have hair
2. letting baby watch TV because you think s/he likes it
3. putting your baby girl in a frilly dress for just hanging around the house
4. super-ornate nurseries, especially if you have your child’s name spelled out on the wall in huge letters
5. talking about how hard it’s been for you put on weight with your pregnancy
6. talking about how you could never cloth diaper because, gross, poop
7. giving your baby solid foods before six months of age
8. refusing to vaccinate your baby because you’re an idiot
9. keeping your baby in one of those enormous strollers that is bigger than my car because god forbid you ever touch your baby
10. taking your baby to brunch in a car seat with a cover over it so no one can even see if you have a baby in there & then putting said car seat behind your chair where you can’t even see it & then shooting dirty looks at me for eating with my baby sitting on my lap

am i an asshole? maybe. like that’s news to anyone.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “a visit from the judging fairy

  1. Awesome! I love it! Great great list.
    I have a mentsl list of the most irritating unsolicited ‘advice’. No one said boo to me when i was pregnant but i hear the most annoying shit from people now. A grown woman asked if she was breathing! And anither said she should wear a hat indoors until shes 18 months to prevent learning disabilities.

    1. what. that hat comment is ridiculous. to the point of almost being awesome. people just truly cannot hold themselves back from offering up all manner of unsolicited advice, can they? one of my least favorites is people with babies like a month older than ramona acting like they are such seasoned & experienced parents compared to me. like, come on, bro. i like discussing tips & tactics with other parents, but i could live without the occasional air of superiority that creeps in.

    2. It’s so true about the unsolicited advice and commentary. I’ve been told that I don’t look pregnant enough — my belly is not visible enough. I’ve also been told to eat more — but not sugar, lest my baby get too big. I’ve also been told that I should never be on my back, even though I sleep on my side mostly and will definitely stop lying on my back as soon as it feels wrong or uncomfortable.

      Honestly, I want to cut people some slack because being pregnant is basically all I want to talk about. I restrain myself because I know that not everyone wants to talk about me me me, and also because I’d like to maintain whatever distinct personality I happened to possess before conception. But I really have a one track mind and it goes Baby Baby Baby. So it’s not totally fair to hope that people will talk to me about pregnancy/babies, and then also to hope that they only say things that I want to hear or offer advice that I consider helpful.

      But seriously! I could do without unqualified expert opinion on stuff that is either trivial or a personal choice.

      1. not to be “that guy,” but the sleeping-on-your-back thing isn’t really trivial. a recent study indicated that side sleeping during pregnancy reduced the incidence of miscarriage by some huge margin. this was in a developing nation where pregnant women lacked access to basic prenatal care & stillbirth rates were much higher than they are in the states, but still. then again, i don’t know how far along you are. it doesn’t really matter until the fetus is big enough to compress the veins that feed its blood supply in the uterus. & you will probably find lying on your back uncomfortable by then. i know that i really missed lying on my back while i was pregnant, but it made me feel breathless & it made me have to pee immediately. like i wasn’t already peeing like every hour on the hour (literally–i was averaging ten times a night!).

        my theory is that everyone has an opinion about this crap because it gives them something to say. & also because they want to share what personally worked for them. i don’t know. pregnancy & parenthood are so overwhelming, i guess i can understand the impulse to be like, “do this!” if you figure out something that works. i’ve probably done it without realizing it & ramona isn’t even five months old yet. in fact, just a few weeks ago, some ladies were talking about how their babies won’t nap well during the day, & i was like, “prop them in the boppy! works great with ramona!” but recently i stopped propping her in the boppy & guess what? she sleeps just as well. she’s just a good napper & sometimes babies aren’t. so i was totally that annoying dude being like, “try this helpful hint!” that turns out to be not so helpful. probably not for the first or last time.

  2. And I don’t understand with the rush to do solids. Seems like more work and money unless yr using formula already. But people say their doctors recommended it so what do i know. It’s weird. I get the feeling that unless theres a medical need (reflux?) for it that some parents feel like their babies are advanced if they do solids before 6 mo.

    1. well, some doctors do recommend solids before six months. i think those doctors are fucking bananas & maybe should lose their licenses. doctors say a lot of things. that doesn’t mean they are right.

      when we took ramona in for her four-month checkup, they gave us the four-month info packet for milestones & all that crap, & there was a whole huge section on when & how to introduce solids. i guess because they know some parents are going to do it around now so they want the information to be available? but when they asked if we’d started solids yet & we said no, they said, “GOOD! GOOD FOR YOU! it’s really not recommended until six months.” & because ramona was two months premature, i am thinking of not starting her until eight months. but if she is showing major interest before then, we will see. i think i’m going to let her make the decision herself.

      i know one woman whose baby is over four months old now (like ramona), but was almost three months premature. because her baby is technically four months old, she has started solids. but technically this baby is like two months old! i mean, just because they come out sooner doesn’t mean their digestive system matures faster! she claims that that’s what her doctor recommended. it makes me frown. but…not my baby, not my decision, i guess.

      i agree that a lot of people start early because they see it as this milestone & they want their baby to be “advanced”. i am all for ramona taking her time. she is advanced in the area of lovability, which is all that matters to me!

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