People tell their pregnancy and delivery horror stories in great and gory detail. I get that. People like to talk about big events they’ve experienced, and they like to compare their experiences to those of other people, and they like to maybe sometimes perhaps exaggerate just a little bit to make their stories more vivid and to get a better response from their audience. And childbirth is pretty high up on the pain-and-danger scale, so it makes for a good story, with lots of potential permutations and complications to allow for some one-upmomship (ha).
But what is absolutely mindboggling is when people tell these stories to someone who is pregnant!!!
Seriously! Who does that? (Tip: That was rhetorical. Just last Friday, on E’s last day of work before mat leave, one of her colleagues was explaining to her how horrifically painful childbirth was going to be.)
I just don’t understand how you could look at a massive pregnant belly and think it would be a good idea to tell that mom all about the things that can go wrong: the twisted cords and the massive pain and the emergency C-sections and the lack of oxygen and the perforated whatnots and the torn whositses and the low Apgar scales and ripping and tearing and the gazillion ways both mom and baby can suffer or die. What the actual fuck, people?
Once you’re a certain amount along—far enough for people to notice and start telling these awful stories—you are not getting out of that pregnancy without a struggle of one kind or another. Pregnant women know this. They are coming to terms with it in their own way, whether that’s denial or Lamaze or whatever. They don’t need some asshole coming along to deprive them of serenity or fan the flames of fear and anxiety, as the case may be.
We all like to share our stories. But I think that a lot of times, we aren’t thinking about the impact our stories might have on the listener, and if the listener gets upset, we get defensive, we minimise, we tell them they’re too sensitive.
Do people think they’re being helpful? Is it a matter of “Look, it was this awful, but I survived so you’ll be fine, too!” Are they trying to prepare the pregnant person for every possibility? All those unsolicited warnings and words of advice have one thing in common: they are unsolicited. Instead of listening to yourself talk under the guise of being helpful and wise, why not ask questions and let the mom talk for a change? She’s about to go on a huge adventure. Don’t be the selfish jerk who hijacks that with your own old stories.
I don’t have kids. As far as I know, I’ve never been pregnant, although I did have a scare when I was sixteen. To me, the idea of being pregnant is horrifying in itself: an alien being grows inside you, feeds on you to live, and then rips its way out. I used to have nightmares about it. I would tell my friends about these nightmares in great, gory, vivid detail.
But not if they were pregnant.