When you're pregnant you become used to people smiling gently at you, as though you've just said something utterly silly.
Perhaps you tried to make a point about differing parenting styles. Or discuss how to handle newborns. Or most controversial of all... offered an opinion on how best to get a child to sleep.
Either way, if you're lucky, your opinion will be quickly dismissed with a smile that suggests your naiveté is best ignored.
Or if you're really unlucky, you'll get a lecture on how all babies are different.
Really? I literally had no idea...
In this way, conversations take on a spooky similarity to those you had on your first day of work. When any attempt to say something useful was met with a forced smile. And you quickly learned it was better to keep your thoughts to yourself when in grown-up land, and save your real opinions for your mates.
For any adult who's grown out of this phase, it's a frightening feeling to suddenly regress towards your early 20s.
For some reason, soon-to-be-parents are gently satirised for expressing any opinions about babies and parenting, no matter how well thought out.
From the moment we open our mouths, we are ripe for every hackneyed, cynical, cliched response, the seasoned parenting pro can conjure up.
And the scoffing noises grow particularly loud when you suggest you're making plans to maintain your independence as people, post-birth.
Weirdly, these reactions come from all walks of life. Grandparents, recent parents, and even soon-to-be parents.
It's a common knee-jerk reaction. As thought any attempt to explore and rationalise this momentous life change demonstrates a freakish, personality quirk that needs quickly to be subdued by society at large.
At first, you think that you are the problem. That you're new to this world and they know best. After all, they're the ones who have been working in this office for many years.
So you walk around with your heart in your mouth. Knowing that each time you try and characterise the situation in your own words, you'll probably be told your attitude will get you nowhere, or that you've missed the point. Or that sometimes it's best to keep your head down.
In short, your innate ability to evaluate your surroundings is shaken over and over again, and mild pre-baby madness begins to descend.
After a few months you realise that having a baby is not the scary part about giving birth.
The truly horrifying element is being encouraged to go back to the point in life where you know nothing.
At the exact time you need to believe in your innate ability to successfully care, nurture and protect another human life, you are roundly rejected if you suggest you might have a handle on things.
It's easy to lose heart in this atmosphere, and assume that the rest of your life will be unknowable chaos. But I'm trying to fight against that mindset, as it doesn't seem like a great way to approach parenthood.
Of course all babies are different. Of course my husband and I don't have all the answers. But encouraging new mums and dads to feel inexperienced and unprepared - no matter what they say - is self-defeating, and slightly cruel.
In the same way that I began to ignore those work colleagues who hated my youthful questions, I've begun filtering out the people who seemed scared to discuss parenthood without resorting to wry eyebrow-raises, and derisive smiles.
Instead, I'm seeking out like minds who enjoy asking a million questions about life. Especially new life.
After all, my baby needs a strong mother, who enjoys the sound of her own thoughts. Not another newbie in the office.Suggest a correction