Weekly Pet Peeve: Pregnancy Horror Stories

Shocked disbelief.

Shocked disbelief.

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.

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21 thoughts on “Weekly Pet Peeve: Pregnancy Horror Stories

  1. sonofabeach96

    It always bugged my wife when complete strangers would come up and touch her very pregnant abdomen. The horror stories from others weren’t really an issue, but I have some to tell if anyone’s interested (like anybody would be). πŸ˜ƒ

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    1. nissetje Post author

      Oh my Dog. I can’t even imagine. I have a very big personal space bubble. A stranger coming up and touching my belly would probably get screamed at if not whacked.

      Tell me a horror story!

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      1. sonofabeach96

        Well, I got to play with the placenta after the twins were born. It was a c-section, and because we had placental shunting occurring, our doc wanted me to see exactly what was going on. My wife was filleted like a fish and her was a large chunk of her innards splayed out on a table. It was wild! That’s for starters

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        1. nissetje Post author

          That’s freaky but also kind of cool. I loved assisting at surgeries when I worked as a vet tech. The insides of us animals are so interesting! But I guess it was scary, too, huh?

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          1. sonofabeach96

            I was in baby fog, squared. She could’ve shown me anything at that moment and still have had the permagrin and euphorically stunned trout gaze. Watching your child be brought into the world is the most adrenaline and endorphin inducing experience I’ve ever had…and ice done some crazy scary and exhilarating shit over the years. πŸ˜ƒ

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            1. nissetje Post author

              Awesome. πŸ™‚ I had the great privilege of being present for the birth of my dear friend’s child back in 2000, and it was a truly amazing experience. It must be amazing times a gazillion when it’s your own kid!

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              1. sonofabeach96

                Like nothing else. I can see how people want to have more. I’d have more if I followed my heart on the matter. My head knows better, but my heart would love to have another child.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. The Good Greatsby

    My mom was famous for telling her horror stories to my sisters when they were pregnant. She would talk about these scary things like they’d been a meaningful, spiritual experience and my sisters would look at her with these wide, terror-filled eyes.

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  3. Blair (The Shameful Sheep)

    Oh god… I haven’t been pregnant yet, but I’ve heard plenty of these stories from friends/family of mine. To tell them to a pregnant woman? Ridiculous. It makes me think that the people who already have children & the horror stories are semi-jealous. Pregnant women get a lot of attention sometimes. I picture the story-tellers like ‘oh, I’ve been there too! Me, me, me, me. Let me tell you all about MY stories.’ I mean, let’s face it… they have no regard/concern/common sense for how the pregnant woman feels hearing about something going horrifically wrong that she has no chance of getting out of. Crazy!

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  4. La Quemada

    Ok, an opinion from a different perspective. I have two kids and two complicated birth stories (a c-section with complications and a VBAC with 27 hours of labor that didn’t go as planned). In the early years, I still needed to tell the stories in detail because giving birth is a very dramatic experience. You go from having this big, uncomfortable belly to having a new human being in your arms, with lots of blood, pain, surprises, and psychological drama along the way. Now it rarely comes up, but I have to say that being around a pregnant woman brings back all the intensity. It really isn’t jealousy or me-me-me. It’s a reminder of a time that was difficult, yes, but also thrilling and important in my life. So when I have a pregnant friend, and she talks about her birth plan or how her pregnancy is going, I very much want to bring up my story again. But if it’s her first pregnancy, I really try to restrain myself, especially from anything that I think could be frightening. However AFTER she’s given birth and survived her own drama, I find we can have a great time sharing birth stories–and she often needs to talk about it over and over, just like I did.

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    1. nissetje Post author

      Oh yes, that totally makes sense to me! Talking through difficult experiences (or intense experiences even if they weren’t “difficult”) is an important thing and a big part of how we relate to each other. My peeve is more about the stories that emphasise all the pain and trauma and potential problems in great detail with no consideration of how the pregnant person is receiving it. Or the people—and I’m sure we’ve all seen this—who KNOW they’re making the audience nervous but seem to take some weird pleasure in it. Sorry to hear your two births were hard—I can see how that would be something that would come back strongly!!!

      The me-me-me thing is about the storytellers who don’t notice or don’t care that the pregnant woman is getting scared or uncomfortable with the horror story.

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      1. La Quemada

        I agree. It can be terribly frightening, especially for women preparing to have their first baby so they still don’t really have a sense of what it will be like.

        Don’t be sorry I had difficult births. Now that it’s long past, they are good stories. Let me tell you all the details… or maybe not!

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        1. nissetje Post author

          You could write a post about it. πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll write a post about the birth I attended many years ago! It was both terrifying and exhilarating. Can’t imagine how much more of both of those feelings my friend was having as she went through it!

          Isn’t it funny how these things become the best stories once they’re in the past and we’ve had time to process them?

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  5. rumpydog

    Yeah, I don’t get that either. But then, I don’t get how we treat pregnant women like they’re queens. I’ve actually heard women say they wish they were pregnant again because of the way they were treated. That is no reason to bring a child into this world.

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