Superstitions about black cats and Friday the 13th have never bothered me. But the old wives' tales about pregnancy and babies seriously freak me out. Maybe it's because my wonderful Polish grandmother (Baba) lived with us when I was growing up. She didn't have a formal education, but she had a ton of knowledge about birthing babies (having delivered seven of her own).
Unfortunately for me, Baba's outstanding, common-sense advice was usually peppered with superstition: Pregnant women shouldn't look at ugly pictures, eat strawberries or reach over their heads. Just. Don't. Do. It.
Despite the fabulous advances in health care and technology — 3-D ultrasounds and whatnot — I can't shake those childhood and adolescent murmurs of what not to do when you're expecting. Baba had already passed on when I became pregnant, but her advice lived on. And, of course, my mother (Baba's daughter) was always around to remind me lest I forget.
My dear ancestors and I are Catholic and believe that life begins at conception. Yet, the living being in the womb was rarely referred to as "a baby." There was that unsettling first trimester during which the pregnancy news was top secret (never mind the obvious morning sickness symptoms).
Then came the fun second trimester (no longer sick and not yet too big) that featured the "fluttering" of you-know-what. We had sonogram pictures (which my mom refused to look at) but didn't find out the sex of either of our babies before they were born — we wanted to be surprised. Besides, it just felt wrong to know… like we would jinx something.
Finally, the all-important third trimester was upon us. Little-by-little, we worked on the nursery, purchased gender-neutral onesies and prepared to meet the new addition to our family. The nesting urge hit me like a thunderbolt, and I interpreted it as logical. This is when Baba would have agreed that we could begin preparing for this little person.
We settled on a couple of names (both boy and girl), but never officially declared, "This is what we'll call our baby-to-be." He or she would not have a formal name until we got a glimpse of that precious face.
And while this is strictly our personal experience, it taints the way I respond to early baby name releases from friends and family. I feel the need to cover my ears and sing, "La-la-la-la, I can't hear you" when they announce the name of their "belly."
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