A Pregnancy Calendar without the Fruit Salad

A Pregnancy Calendar without the Fruit Salad

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Purge your bad digital habits along with your breakfast. (Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The typical pregnancy calendar includes 40ish week-by-week descriptions of pregnancy and birth: how a fetus is growing, what new symptoms you can expect, and checklists of what you can do to prepare to become a parent. These calendars are also overrun with fruit, complete with social media updates to treat all your friends and family to months of virtual fruit salad.

This isn’t all bad. I learned what a durian was because a pregnant friend posted about it. Additionally, seeing that a fetus is the size of an acorn squash is a nice reminder that pregnant women aren’t really eating for two. But the typical calendars have a serious problem: despite all those healthy images of blueberries and limes and jackfruits, they encourage trough feeding.

You know when you eat a full 24-oz. bag of Cheez-Its? You’re showing some restraint, of course, because there are two bags in that Costco-sized box. But eating to the bottom of the bag is feeding. You stopped being hungry after the first few handfuls, your tongue is burning from the salt, but you keep mindlessly munching away.

The same thing happens when researching pregnancy online. The internet is bottomless, so we click around, even if we’re reading page after page after page of dubious quality.

I’m not here to take away your Cheez-Its. I’m not telling you to stop reading online either. But I do encourage you to approach your web research as dining. And there’s no better time to start that kind of dining than during a pregnancy.

Your homework during these not-quite-pregnant weeks of pregnancy is to pare down your virtual junk food. Right now is a good time to remove pregnancy forum apps from your phone, an act that will save you countless hours of unnecessary symptom spotting and snarky judgment of parents-to-be who you think are doing it wrong. It’s a good time to stop reading scary parenting stories on social media. It’s a good time to admit you’re consuming too much pregnant celebrity gossip and pay up for a real newspaper subscription. And it’s a great time to start building a virtual library of sources you trust and respect. I hope Northeast Ohio Parent and snackdinner will be two of those sources.

To help parents-to-be learn how to dine, not feed, I’ve created a pregnancy calendar that teaches one new research skill each week. You’ll learn how to read scary parenting news, interpret newsworthy numbers, and save yourself from unnecessary baby gear.

Before I share a link to the calendar, one final point: the “diner” addressed in most pregnancy calendars is, understandably, a pregnant woman. This is both practical and expected, because only the pregnant woman will eventually be carrying that watermelon in Week 40.

Some of the calendars do make gestures to the non-pregnant partner, but that partner is generally a very specific caricature of man, a Don Draper clone who lacks intellectual curiosity and is good only for nursery-related manual labor and ice-chip fetching.

If you and your partner view each other as true partners — regardless of which gender expression fits you best or who is birthing the baby — you need a calendar that treats both of you as competent, intellectually curious, if somewhat afraid-for-the future people. You need to be a united front against the absurd levels of misinformation coming your way during these next 40 weeks.

So the “you” in this calendar, unless specified, is not the pregnant person. It’s the prospective parent. This calendar is for you if you’re pregnant and now terrified of eating sandwiches, but it’s also for you if you’re the sandwich-phobe’s support person. All of you are welcome to check out the whole calendar here.

About the author

Stephanie Loomis Pappas is a professor turned write-from-home parent on a mission to debunk all the bad parenting advice on the internet. At snackdinner, she uses topics like moldy Sophies, raw cookie dough, and Tide Pods to teach parents how to do better research. Despite all her research and teaching experience, Stephanie still can’t make her 4-year-old go to bed. She lives with him and her husband in Lyndhurst.

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