Let me start by saying that mathematics has never been my strong point. Let’s face it, I still count with my fingers.
So, prior to having a baby, when pregnant people talked about their pregnancy in terms of ‘weeks‘, I wondered what madness had become then. I knew about months. 9 months. Pregnancy was made up of 0-3 months (the early days), 3-6 months (somewhere in the middle), and 6-9 months (ooh.. Nearly there! Good luck with that).
If I asked someone how far along they were, I was more often than not met with a response consisting of weeks. I thought this was unnecessarily confusing as it meant I usually had to divide whatever number it was by four, and if it didn’t divide equally I’d resort to surveying their belly and making a guesstimation based on my previous formula of 0-3, 3-6 and 6-9.
I also suspected a hint of narcissism on their part. I mean really, who thinks so importantly about themselves that they give others a week-by-week description? What could possibly be so different between week 14 and week 15? Did people upon conceiving their baby develop a strange ability to process time in weeks?
Then… I got pregnant. Pregnancy in weeks. Yay… Confusing still. And THEN someone gave me a week-by-week pregnancy book. Hold the phone. Buds? For limbs? It’s got BUDS FOR LIMBS! Rationality went out the window. My life became utterly consumed by weeks.
I remember being at the beach at about 12 weeks pregnant, fondly rubbing my “protruding” belly so that every passerby’s attention was drawn to my blossoming offspring. The reality of it was that I could have just eaten a buffet lunch by the size of my belly.
People would ask, “How far along are you?”. This was of course initiated by my casually dropping my pregnancy into the conversation.
“I tried the new prego sauce-”
“What’s that? Pregnant? Oh… Sorry, I thought you said pregnant. Yeah. Because I am. Pregnant. Yes. Oh thanks! Ha ha yes I’m so huuuge! Oh no, really I am!”
My immediate response to their question of how far along I was became a calculation based on how many kids they had.
0 kids: “Three months”. A look of relief would wash over them as they realised they didn’t need to do the old ‘divide the weeks by four’ thing to get a suitable answer.
1 kid: “12 weeks”. Ahhh… The familiarity of someone who understands week by week gestation.
Any more than one kid: No need to respond. By the time you get to “Twel-“, they will have become distracted by one of their cherubs feeding peanut butter to a newborn*, chewing on a power cord or consuming a corrosive liquid.
When people asked just how pregnant I was, I would also feel the need to delve into an interesting monologue about pregnancy in general. Did you know pregnancy is actually 40 weeks! That’s not even 9 months!
Occasionally I’d be met with a glazed-over look of disinterest. I’m sorry a-hole. Did you not just ask me how far along I am? I believe you did. And you will hear my answer with interest. My foetus has fingernails now. FINGERNAILS! What have you ever done for the world?
And if that’s not enough for you, I will now proceed to bombard your Facebook newsfeed with weekly foetus updates from the baby centre website, ultrasound photos and baby bump selfies. And if you don’t like it, just delete me. My hormones are raging. I’m like, a mum now. That’s right. I’ve carried a jelly bean for 3 months, so don’t mess with me.
Fast forward to post-birth and the mathematics madness continues. Somewhere along the line, and no one specifies exactly where, your baby begins to enter the world of “months”. Is there some secret code amongst parents? I’m still not sure. They’re just milling about at 7 weeks old and then BAM! All of a sudden, two months.
I actually googled “When do you start counting a baby’s age in months” and it came up with 44,500,000 results. No wonder there’s some confusion. Here’s an image I found. Message to parents: Apparently babies want us to stop counting their age in months when they get to a year old. Message received!
After two months of age, counting in weeks is soo yesterday. Unless of course we’re talking about the infamous “Wonder Weeks” book and app. The one where us parents desperately trawl through the week-by-week progress of our tiny humans, trying to find a reason that will justify our frustration with our babies. Aha! Separation anxiety. My child is normal. I am normal. I’ll hold off on that refund (joke) just until the stormy period passes and I can be sure we’ve entered a sunny week!
In fact, even the blue book the hospital gives us is no friend of weeks. You know the book that they give you? The one you think the nurse is going to check when they come for the home visit? After of course giving you a 40-minute
interrogation interview on the phone asking all the small talk questions like whether you have any firearms in the house, whether any house members are violent homicidal maniacs who might threaten the nurse with said firearm? Oh, and are there any steps at the front of your house?
Yeah, the book. It just suddenly skips from 8 weeks to 6 months. Oh I’m sorry, did your baby make it past eight weeks of age? Well pop over to that counter and get a REALITY CHECK!! Your baby has survived the newborn stage. Take a seat. Better yet, just pop your kid in the corner and set an alarm for 6 months because until then, no progress will be made. I mean really, what progress can be made in four months’ time? Aside from the single largest growth experience of the human body over the course of the lifespan?
But back to the months… Us parents are guilty of many a Facebook faux-pas, but one of the killers has to be the monthly birthday. Guilty! You too. Raise your hand. You there with the “one month, two month.. etc” cards that you force your kid to get a picture with each month. I’m sure the childless community are baffled. “Happy birthd-… Wait, what? Wasn’t it Johnny’s birthday just last month?”
And the trend continues. There seems to be some unwritten law that dictates when a child’s age is to be counted in years. One day a kid is 23 months old. Unnecessary. Next minute they’re two years old and months are never to be spoken of again. Bizarre.
I think it’s at this time parents have to concede that their babies are no longer really babies and are now little humans. That, or the fact that society is about to give an open-palmed slap to anyone who dares to declare that their child is 36 months old.
But looking at it now, with a 9 and a half month old (don’t judge.. Those two weeks make all the difference!), I get it. I understand why us parents cling to these tiny fragments of time. Weeks, then months, and then sadly years! Despite everyone incessantly feeling the need to tell you “Don’t blink! They’ll grow so fast!”, you’ll never really understand it until it happens. I look over photos of my newborn fondly, but also with a heavy heart. Where did that stage go? I’ve forgotten the two hour shifts of life. The complete lack of sleep. The copious threats against my husband. All that’s left are memories of my beautiful tiny baby and having to sadly pack away clothes every couple of months that no longer fit her anymore. It’s for this reason I understand why people try to fall pregnant again! Despite me having lived through the early period of time during motherhood where I would look at a woman pregnant with their first and think “Laugh it up lady. You’ve got no idea what’s going to hit you, you poor bugger”.
Now I look at her and smile. What unfathomable joy she’s about to experience. She has no idea how fast it will go.
*my sister actually did this to my brother. Apparently all newborns should take a walk on the wild side and have a spoonful of peanut butter at 3 days old. Why not?