Author Topic: Who's going to have a baby next???  (Read 10174 times)

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AnaMaria

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Who's going to have a baby next???
« on: October 02, 2013, 10:48:03 PM »
I admit, I get hyped up about this because of my family background (my parents dealt with infertility for a decade before adopting my brother and me) and because I have recently watched several close friends go through infertility.  I am not yet married and have no plans to have biological children until I am, but just listening to my parents' and my friends' stories about infertility has shown me that it's more than a frustrating waiting process.  When my parents were struggling, my mom told me she once had to bolt out of a baby shower for a friend so no one would see her break down in tears- she wanted to celebrate with her friend, but all that she could think was that she would probably never get to have a baby shower of her own.  Just recently, a friend told me she couldn't log into her facebook account anymore because she couldn't handle seeing all her friends' ultrasound pictures and pregnancy announcements.  Some might call this overdramatic, but I don't think it's safe to judge someone who is going through something we've never experienced. 

Now, I'm not saying that the start of a new life isn't a miracle worth celebrating or that someone who is expecting should have to hide it, but, while people have the choice not to attend a baby shower or log into facebook, they should not have to answer questions about when they are going to have a baby or another baby, or who in a group will be the next to have a baby.  Recently, I was in on a conversation with a large group of women from church, and two of them starting throwing jokes around about who was going to be pregnant next.  I knew of at least one person in the group who is going through infertility right now, and she has confided to me how hard it is to listen to all the stork jokes and predictions about who will have the next baby, knowing it probably won't be her.  After a few minutes, I decided to pull the one who was initiating the jokes aside and tell her gently, "I know you didn't know this, but there's at least one person here that is dealing with infertility right now.  If you and Other Friend want to joke about this, can you please keep it private so she doesn't have to listen?" 

She shocked me with her reaction, saying that if someone was jealous of her children it was their problem, and even saying that if someone didn't have children, that was God's plan and they should accept it (have I been reading my Bible wrong, or does the Bible say to mourn with those who mourn, not "tell one another to buck up and accept it?").  She even blamed this person- without knowing who it was- for not coming out and announcing her infertility.  "How am I supposed to know not to talk about this kind of stuff if I don't know what's going on?" she said.  (Right, the way you are acting right now shows that you are totally the kind of person that someone could trust with their deepest heartaches!- didn't say it out loud but sure thought it!)

Is this so hard of a concept for people to grasp?  There are some topics that are sensitive and that should be discussed with caution in a group of people you don't know that well.    You wouldn't joke about cancer, mental illness, drug addiction, or religion in front of strangers.  Have serious discussions about such topics when the context is appropriate, maybe.  Joke around about them with your close friends who you know won't be offended, probably.  Laugh about them or bring them up unnecessarily in a group that included strangers??  I would hope not!!  Shouldn't a sensitive topic like pregnancy be treated the same way, especially in a group of 20-30something women??

EllenS

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2013, 11:06:25 PM »
Are you really intending to equate pregnancy with "cancer, mental illness, drug addiction?"  Naturally, one should not joke about infertility, but having children is culturally accepted as a positive thing, not a curse.

Should people never speak of running a marathon, because someone in the room might have cancer or be facing an amputation? Or getting married because someone in the room might be secretly heartbroken?  Should people never joke about their mothers, because someone in the room might be grieving theirs?

Naturally, if you know there is a person listening for whom a topic might be painful, you should not bring it up, or apologize/drop it if it is pointed out to you.  The speaker's attitude you encountered was 100% wrong.  But every topic is painful to someone

If we start making the ordinary stuff of life "off limits" on the chance that someone may have a secret struggle, there would be very little friendly conversation in the world.  Does not excuse the ugly attitude you encountered, but I think a taboo on pregnancy talk is just unfeasible and unreasonable.
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AnaMaria

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 11:14:03 PM »
I'm not talking about a taboo on talking about pregnancy. 

I'm talking about bringing up things like "Who is going to get pregnant next??" in a group setting where there are strangers or even people whom one doesn't know very well present. 

WillyNilly

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 11:17:06 PM »
...Is this so hard of a concept for people to grasp?  There are some topics that are sensitive and that should be discussed with caution in a group of people you don't know that well.    You wouldn't joke about cancer, mental illness, drug addiction, or religion in front of strangers.  Have serious discussions about such topics when the context is appropriate, maybe.  Joke around about them with your close friends who you know won't be offended, probably.  Laugh about them or bring them up unnecessarily in a group that included strangers??  I would hope not!!  Shouldn't a sensitive topic like pregnancy be treated the same way, especially in a group of 20-30something women??

I get your point and where you are coming from. Truly I do - I was 37 when I became pregnant (now) and I'm dealing with a high risk pregnancy. So I went through plenty of years of hearing my biological clock ringing its alarm before it happened for me and I'm still quite concerned.

But the reality is, more women can get pregnant then can't, so its not like its such a wide spread thing. Yes its pretty common, but its not like its something everyone goes through, plenty never do (in part that's what makes it so darn hard to deal with and so hurtful). So to expect the majority of people avoid what is generally considered a happy topic with the majority of people the majority of the time over a minority concern..? I don't know.

Certainly if someone knows its hurtful topic, the jokes should be skipped and the topic kept to a minimum but to expect people to just avoid teh topic altogether all the time on the chance someone might be struggling? That's just not fair or realistic.

nuit93

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 11:17:19 PM »
Like EllenS said, every topic is painful to someone.

For example: I'm childfree but I don't mind hearing about pregnancy and childbirth, not even the details involving various bodily fluids and tearing/stitching.  Diaper talk is also perfectly okay by me.  But another unrelated topic that tends to crop up with women in my age group is a HUGE trigger for me.  Like, I have to leave the room sometimes.

That said, I don't tend to announce if a topic being discussed is uncomfortable to me.  I know some people are comfortable saying if something is a trigger for them, I just prefer to play those cards closer to my chest. 

If I know something is uncomfortable for someone, I'll avoid the topic.  But if I don't know...I don't think it's reasonable to expect me to avoid a topic.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2013, 11:21:34 PM »
I'm not talking about a taboo on talking about pregnancy. 

I'm talking about bringing up things like "Who is going to get pregnant next??" in a group setting where there are strangers or even people whom one doesn't know very well present.
I agree with the other OP. Discussing pregnancy amongst a group of women of that age is fine.

Every subject has the potential to be sensitive to others.

Say a group of HS graduates' moms are joking about their kids college plans and one mom is sensitive unknown to them because her child didn't get admitted anywhere. Should they be chastised as you did to this woman?

Sure, it would have been polite for the woman to say "oh, didn't know, thanks for alerting me." But I don't think we can say that concerns about infertility should stop discussions about potential pregnancy.

EllenS

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2013, 11:25:36 PM »
I'm not talking about a taboo on talking about pregnancy. 

I'm talking about bringing up things like "Who is going to get pregnant next??" in a group setting where there are strangers or even people whom one doesn't know very well present. 

It is always rude to make in-jokes with close friends in a way that makes newcomers feel excluded.

Other than that, no.  I don't think pregnancy, planned or guessed at, in an all-female, casual social group is an unusual or highly-sensitive topic, especially if the majority of them are partnered and/or intending to have or adopt children.  Many people I know talk about "having a baby" or "having another" to mean pregnancy, or adoption interchangeably.  Just had that conversation over the weekend with some women at a party (some friends, some I had just met) - if we do have another child, I will not be bearing him/her, and that just flowed in with the rest of the conversation.

Again, when you pointed out that there was someone present for whom this was painful, the speaker was 100% wrong in her very callous and selfish response.
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LifeOnPluto

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2013, 11:35:19 PM »
I disagree slightly with the majority of posters. I think the two women were insensitive with their initial "who's going to get pregnant next?" jokes.

Unless all the women in the group were close, and had spoken openly about their desire to have kids, the jokes were ill-advised, because you don't know other people's circumstances. A sizeable chunk of couples do struggle with infertility. Another sizeable chunk of women never meet Mr Right in time to have a family, either, despite wanting to.

And I don't think analogies like the marathon / facing amputation really work either. If a person doesn't run a marathon, society (in general) doesn't judge them, or speculate why this person can't run a marathon. And running a marathon (or not) isn't a huge and on-going part of people's lives. But that's not the same for having kids.

Psychopoesie

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2013, 11:37:19 PM »
I'm not talking about a taboo on talking about pregnancy. 

I'm talking about bringing up things like "Who is going to get pregnant next??" in a group setting where there are strangers or even people whom one doesn't know very well present. 

I agree that a blanket ban on pregnancy talk is unworkable. People should be able to share the joys and downsides of their own pregnancy or plans for another baby (biological or by  adoption) without any drama.

However, I think there are somethings you just shouldn't ask. What AnaMaria is talking about, a speculative session of "who's going to have a baby next?" seems more akin to asking someone "so when are you are Joey going to have a baby?" or half joking comments like "no kids yet? Well, tick, tock!". It turns the attention from general discussion of pregnancy (fine) to another individual's pregnancy plans (awkward and fraught, even if you know them well).

Infertility issue or not, a person's reproductive plans aren't really anyone else's business.

hannahmollysmom

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2013, 01:59:34 AM »
OP, I think they were rude after you clued them in. If it was me you had to clue in, I would have felt bad and changed the subject. Bean Dip anyone?
If you hadn't clued them in, then they were not wrong, but you did, so rude in my book.

blarg314

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2013, 04:47:20 AM »

I'm 40 and currently (so far unsuccessfully) trying to get pregnant, and we're working our way through fertility treatments.  And it seems like everyone around me is having kids and more kids, and my Facebook feed, over the past few years, has drifted away from people talking about vacations and hobbies to people posting pictures of babies.

But that's simply a fact of life for the age range of people I interact with - lots of people are having kids, or planning to have kids in the next few years, and there's always someone pregnant.  So someone wondering who is going to have kids next, or talking about "Oh, did you know Zhang is pregnant?" or where to buy baby clothes, or the difficulties of finding a babysitter, or anything like that is simply part of life. I don't expect people to tiptoe around the idea of pregnancy because I'm having fertility issues and might get upset, any more than I'd expect people to not talk about weddings, or getting faculty jobs or tenure or postdocs, or grad school applications, or any other major life things.



atirial

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 05:27:14 AM »
The problem is that the "Whose going to get pregnant next" chat can quickly devolve into personal questions and get very specific to people who avoid answering. This virges on bullying to my mind, so now I give one polite deflect, but I've found with people who push the issue the phrase "Why are you asking about my sex life?" works quite well.

squeakers

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 06:15:03 AM »
The problem is that the "Whose going to get pregnant next" chat can quickly devolve into personal questions and get very specific to people who avoid answering. This virges on bullying to my mind, so now I give one polite deflect, but I've found with people who push the issue the phrase "Why are you asking about my sex life?" works quite well.

This.  Not that kids are in my future.  Had mine... done with that.  But I also know people who are trying, have tried, had 1 but faced infertility after that and people who only wanted one or only wanted none.

Talking about babies is one thing... asking someone when they are going to bud/fruit/propagate is a whole 'nother thing.
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flickan

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2013, 06:54:31 AM »
I don't think it's reasonable to walk on eggshells around people just in case.  People talk about pregnancy.  It's just one of those things, it's a life event.

I do think people should always be extra cautious when they know a friend/family member/coworker is having fertility issues.  I don't think it would be unreasonable at all to tone down discussions about an impending birth or baby shower when there is someone present who has a hard time hearing about that.  Why not put their comfort first?  A friend of mine has been struggling with infertility for a long time.  We talk about children only when she brings it up.  I'm childless by choice and she will never ever hear about that, not in passing, and certainly not in a joking way.  I know she respects my choices but I'm not about to throw it in her face that I don't want something that she would give anything for.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Who's going to have a baby next???
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2013, 07:42:49 AM »
I think there's a difference between generally talking about babies (and your own baby plans) and publicly speculating about other people's baby plans, which is essentially what the women in the OP were doing.

The first is fine - it would be unreasonable to expect people to abstain from general or personal (to them) baby talk.

But the second is rude, IMO.