The only labor advice I need

There’s something about a pregnant belly that acts as an advice magnet. Women seem to want to share their thoughts on best practices on everything from prenatal nutrition (the dangers of soy; the benefits of powdered gelatin) to how to pick a preschool.

It must be testament to the incredible women who surround me that so far, all the advice I’ve received has been helpful or, at the least, mostly free from judgment. (What advice, good or offensive or ridiculous, have you heard?)

The other day my boss recommended I bring a bottle of my favorite beer to the hospital when I go into labor. There’s nothing like cracking open a cold one after the arduous work of delivery, she said,  especially after nine months of teetotaling. And supposedly the barley used to make beer stimulates milk production. Although I have to double-check this with our midwife, I’ve been having fun fantasizing about which of Oregon’s renowned microbrews I’d bring. (I’m thinking an amber… anyone have suggestions?)

At the baby shower my mom threw me, my mother-in-law advised me to let Peeper get dirty and eat worms. As I skew toward the hippie side of the scale, this won’t be a problem for me, but her wishes that her grandchild be a bug-eating, dirt-smeared kid made me love her all the more.

The best advice I’ve received so far, though, came from another writer whom I interviewed for a story in Glamour. Gabrielle Glaser’s forthcoming book Her Best-Kept Secret made her the perfect source for my article, and she regaled me with researched anecdotes about Prohibition and her time as a reporter for The Oregonian. She wrote me an email the other day asking how my pregnancy was coming along and shared this story:

“When I was nine months pregnant I lived in London and was waddling to the pool every day. Women felt compelled to tell me their horror stories. A lovely Jamaican woman listened quietly as they carried on, then came up to me and said, ‘Don’t you worry, darlin’, you’re going to have an easy time.’ I was so happy I hugged her in my wet suit. And it dawned on me: Everyone in this musty locker room was born. Everyone everywhere has been born!”

Everyone everywhere has been born.


I’m thinking of making this motto into a poster and packing it, along with clothes and camera chargers and a coming home outfit for the Peeper, in my hospital bag. I can hang it in the room where I’ll be delivering. When labor is toughest, when I’m most scared, when my mind can’t get around the insane physics of birth, I’ll remember Gabrielle’s revelation.

Somehow, Peeper will get born. Precisely how doesn’t matter. And that is immensely comforting.

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