Author Topic: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth  (Read 8897 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

happy_baker

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 322
Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« on: August 22, 2008, 02:22:38 PM »
Or, How Ehell Has Saved Me From Listening to Countless Hours of Commands Advice on How I "Should" do it.  ;)

(This is more about deflecting the discussion of personal issues than about the issue itself, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who's encountered the Pregnancy Busybodies, so I referenced pregnancy specifically, not to debate the issue but to demonstrate how I've been deflecting debating the issue! AKA, I'm not trying to start a Debate on the Shoulds and Shouldn'ts of Pregnancy. :))

So, we're pregnant with number one, and as can be seen from the ticker below, it's getting pretty obvious. I've had surprisingly few public encounters that have been rude, knock on wood, (and not a single stranger has touched my belly, although one acquaintance did quite cross the line in a way I did not appreciate, but again thanks to Ehell I was able to defuse the situation and get her hands off me without having to raise my voice to the level it really wanted to be at!  ;D), but it's been in the privacy of social functions (and even in the privacy of Facebook, where I'm not "friends" with anyone I'm not REAL LIFE friends with) that I've been gobsmacked the most by the capability of people to take offense to the silliest things/stick their nose where it doesn't, in my opinion, belong.

In the beginning, this was all new and shiny to me, so I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and I was so excited that I made the mistake of being really open with friends and family about what I was learning and what we were considering as far as care went. Anything went, any topic was up for discussion, and no question was too personal for me to want to share about. (I know. I know, I know. I'm so sorry. I've probably contributed to making it MORE difficult for the other pregnant women that these people will now encounter, and I am truly repentant for that! :'()

After one set of ruffled feathers too many, however, I began to realize that when the mommies of my acquaintance (please note that this is restricted to my own experience, and I am not making a blanket statement about mommies in general!) asked whether I was considering this or that model of care, method of treatment, course of action or philosophy of life-giving, what they were doing was looking to affirm the choices that THEY had made, and if my answer happened to NOT coincide EXACTLY with theirs, then it was huffing and blowing and "WELL. *I* didn't do THAT, and MY kid turned out FINE." Wowza.  :o (Please also note that I am trying to have a baby, not make a statement, so when I would answer these questions, it was always in a very non-confrontational tone, with a matter-of-fact, direct sentence:"What are you doing about Y?" "Oh, we're thinking of doing X." Mind boggling, I know, that such a mild answer could provoke such an emotional response. I wouldn't believe it, myself, if it hadn't kept happening!!)

So now, when someone asks "Are you doing X, or Y model of care? This or that post-natal procedure?" I say for the latter (or for anything else relating to what happens AFTER Baby is born), "You know, we're just concentrating on HAVING the baby, first. One thing at a time, for us! How about those eight Gold Medals? That's quite something, isn't it?" and for the first one "Oooooh, Dh and I have learned not to discuss it with others! You wouldn't beLIEVE how offended people can get by the choices that others make about what's best for themselves!! But how exciting for you, little Bean is walking now!...etc."  ;D

(Bonus anecdote: a mother of an acquaintance, with six children of her own, to me, "Now, I want to know what parenting decisions you've made so that I can laugh at how much they change when the baby is born!" ( :o Yes, that is word for word. And no, we are not planning on interacting with this person again.) Me, to the mother of an acquaintance, with six children of her own, "That they are subject to change with practical experience is exactly why we haven't made ANY firm decisions on parenting yet, and why, if we had, we would not be sharing them with anyone else. How was the tour of the {popular tourist destination} you took today?")

This is all such a far cry from the pre-Ehell responses I'd be giving if I didn't want to talk about something: "Um, well, I don't, well, yeah, we're kind of, um, uh, WHAT IS THAT OVER THERE?? (runs and hides)"  ;D

But, how am I doing in my learning process? Too much? Not enough? Any room for improvement? Suggestions welcome!!

FishWoman

  • Guest
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2008, 06:16:07 PM »
You are about two weeks further along than I am, Happy-Baker, and I think your responses are excellent.

Fortunately, we haven't had anyone really demand to know how we intend to give birth and/or raise the child. Although we have had some of our ideas rebutted with the equivalent of your bonus anecdote :-\ I just tell them that we know each child is different, what we plan may not be what we actually do, but these are our current intentions.

Best of luck!

ACBNYC

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1086
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2008, 11:32:51 AM »
After one set of ruffled feathers too many, however, I began to realize that when the mommies of my acquaintance (please note that this is restricted to my own experience, and I am not making a blanket statement about mommies in general!) asked whether I was considering this or that model of care, method of treatment, course of action or philosophy of life-giving, what they were doing was looking to affirm the choices that THEY had made, and if my answer happened to NOT coincide EXACTLY with theirs, then it was huffing and blowing and "WELL. *I* didn't do THAT, and MY kid turned out FINE." Wowza.  :o (Please also note that I am trying to have a baby, not make a statement, so when I would answer these questions, it was always in a very non-confrontational tone, with a matter-of-fact, direct sentence:"What are you doing about Y?" "Oh, we're thinking of doing X." Mind boggling, I know, that such a mild answer could provoke such an emotional response. I wouldn't believe it, myself, if it hadn't kept happening!!)

I think this defensiveness is a direct result of the Mommy Police. If you read enough mommy message boards, or have acquaintances that have decided their way is the only way, it can really make you feel guilty about the choices you've made. (Most of this, in my experience, comes into play when discussing feeding choices and labor/delivery choices.) There is pressure that is coming from somewhere--and I'm not sure how this started--to be the Perfect Mom. And if you don't do everything on the Perfect Mom list, well then, that makes you a Bad Mom.

The only thing you can really do is avoid discussing birth/parenting choices with anyone other than good, non-judgemental friends. And stay off those Mommy message boards because they'll drive you bonkers.

I don't think your acquaintance meant any harm; she was saying that you have to be flexible and understand that not everything--in my case, hardly anything!--will go according to the plans you are making now. The reality is much different from the philosphy, at least in my experience. She was clueless and a bit rude in her phrasing but she probably meant well.

Your responses are great. Good luck. My DD is 14 months already. It goes so fast and it's the best experience I've ever had. I'm so glad I have her.  :)

realgonegal1

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 758
  • Trying to stay below the radar with a name change!
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2008, 07:23:34 PM »
Baby Grinch is 9 month old, number 2 is on the way......

You will meet those women, the ones who make you feel guilty for not feeding your kids all organic/dressing them in natural fabrics/having a c-section.  I know plenty of them, they make me crazy......there is one in particular at my Mommy and Me group that is potty training her 11 month old. ::)

I believe the theory of needing affirmation of THEIR behaviours is right on.  There is no way that all these people were that judgemental before they had children!  It's got to be a self-esteem issue too.  Women are funny - we can be sooooo supportive of each other, but we also tend to feel the need to criticize others to make ourselves feel better.  It's sad. 

I have my own personal theory.  The ones who proclaim that they only feed their kids organic foods are the ones who secretly put soda in their kids bottle and feed them Oreo's when no one is looking   >:D

Black Delphinium

  • The Black Flower
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7622
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2008, 08:35:02 PM »
Hey now, they're nothing inherently wrong with potty training at 11 months. Some kids gravitate towards getting themselves out of diapers at a young age. My DF's mother says that he was the one to initiate potty training, and he was adamant about using the "big boy potty" instead of diapers.
When angels go bad, they go worse than anyone. Remember, Lucifer was an angel. ~The Marquis De Carabas

happy_baker

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 322
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2008, 02:07:30 PM »
OK, wow, looks like we need some more pre-set responses!!  ;D

RE: "What I feed my child (read to my child, play with my child, sign my child up for) is better than what you feed (read, play, sign up) your child", how about, "Isn't it great to be able to make those kinds of decisions in this day and age? So many choices...speaking of choices, DH/DF/BF is working on his picks for the football pool...any tips from your DH/DF/BF?"*

RE: "My child has reached {developmental milestone} at {abnormally early age}, how's your DD/S doing?" how about, "Oh, we're having so much FUN just interacting with Junior/Juniette, we just leave all the clinical analyses to his/her {medical caregiver}! Oh, BTW, we're going to the zoo/park/pool/neighbourhood potluck on Friday, we hope to see you there!" Or something along those lines...

What else are we missing? (And let's just keep it generic, so as not to start a debate on a particular subject...)

*This is also how I've been sidestepping the "where are you birthing" question, since in our area, it seems to be a pretty even third-third-third split between hospital, birth center and home. But you never know why someone's asking, and it's always been safer to marvel at the choices and then change the subject so as to avoid the possibility of a "My kid is PERFECTLY okay" melt-down from a straight answer!  ;)

Edited for clarification...
« Last Edit: September 09, 2008, 02:12:46 PM by happy_baker »

realgonegal1

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 758
  • Trying to stay below the radar with a name change!
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2008, 08:48:59 AM »
OK, wow, looks like we need some more pre-set responses!!  ;D

RE: "What I feed my child (read to my child, play with my child, sign my child up for) is better than what you feed (read, play, sign up) your child", how about, "Isn't it great to be able to make those kinds of decisions in this day and age? So many choices...speaking of choices, DH/DF/BF is working on his picks for the football pool...any tips from your DH/DF/BF?"*

RE: "My child has reached {developmental milestone} at {abnormally early age}, how's your DD/S doing?" how about, "Oh, we're having so much FUN just interacting with Junior/Juniette, we just leave all the clinical analyses to his/her {medical caregiver}! Oh, BTW, we're going to the zoo/park/pool/neighbourhood potluck on Friday, we hope to see you there!" Or something along those lines...

What else are we missing? (And let's just keep it generic, so as not to start a debate on a particular subject...)

*This is also how I've been sidestepping the "where are you birthing" question, since in our area, it seems to be a pretty even third-third-third split between hospital, birth center and home. But you never know why someone's asking, and it's always been safer to marvel at the choices and then change the subject so as to avoid the possibility of a "My kid is PERFECTLY okay" melt-down from a straight answer!  ;)

Edited for clarification...

These are great responses! 

Sure, some kids potty-train early....and that's great.  The woman I mentioned is EXACTLY the type to make the rest of us feel inadequate because our kids are NOT hitting milestones early.  Why act this way?  It's so unecessary.

Maryann

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2008, 09:18:24 AM »
Quote
Now, I want to know what parenting decisions you've made so that I can laugh at how much they change when the baby is born!

Are you certain she meant that literally? That sounds to me like it was only a joke about how the expectations of parenting differ from the realities of parenting. I imagine the lady meant you no offense. I don't think I would have taken it the way you did, nor cut the lady from my life.

happy_baker

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 322
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2008, 01:06:51 PM »
Quote
Now, I want to know what parenting decisions you've made so that I can laugh at how much they change when the baby is born!

Are you certain she meant that literally? That sounds to me like it was only a joke about how the expectations of parenting differ from the realities of parenting.

Yup. I would definitely have taken it as a joke, if she had intoned it as a joke, and not as a command. (Her tone was MUCH more like: "Give me a list to take to the store so I don't forget anything" than "Let's play this fun game called 20 Questions!!" if you follow what I'm saying. Tone is so hard to convey with the written word...!)



I don't think I would have taken it the way you did, nor cut the lady from my life.

Fair enough. However, this was the first time I'd ever met her, and as she lives out of state, I will probably have no occasion to see her again, and I definitely won't be going out of my way to contact her! (I'd be afraid she'd make fun of my "parenting choices"  ;D) But that's what I meant when I said we wouldn't be interacting with her again: not that we were lifelong friends and now she's out, it's more like, "Wow, that one encounter was pretty bizarre, but it probably won't happen again just because of how life is"; I apologize for not having been more clear about that bit.


Maryann

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2008, 12:10:08 AM »
Quote from: happy_baker
However, this was the first time I'd ever met her, and as she lives out of state, I will probably have no occasion to see her again, and I definitely won't be going out of my way to contact her!

I have to admit that's an idiotic joke to say to someone you've just met, especially in a pushy tone of voice. I just mean sometimes people do or say stupid things and they don't really mean them. Sometimes a first impression isn't the right one. People say it's "everything," but maybe we shouldn't let it be so. It sounds like it really offended you, but with a new baby on the way, you probably have better things to worry about than some dumb joke.

Twik

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28735
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2008, 02:29:28 PM »
If the first time I met someone, they announced their intention of mocking me afterwards, I'd not put them on my list of "Must socialize with again".
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Oxymoroness

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4278
  • I have a PhD in Crazy Math
    • Wrightbrain Design
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2008, 02:44:03 PM »
I've only got about 3 weeks to go, and yea, I've had some of that. Especially when it comes to the birth. My standard answer is more along the lines of, "Oh I've got a general idea, I'm just going to see what works best for us."  :)

That tends to be just vague enough so that there's very little arguing. (Nothing really to work with there.) It doesn't stop the advice, but then, very little stops unsolicited advice and I'm too cranky and sore to put much effort into it.  ::)

Kaylee

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5035
  • No power in the 'verse can stop me!
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2008, 02:51:18 PM »
I'm a pediatric resident.  The Mommy Police are amazing (have I ever told the story of the woman in the ER who thought it was appropriate to comment to me on how terrible it was that a mother she saw across the room wasn't breast-feeding her baby?).  But not everyone is like that...it just seems like it some days.

I do agree that the lady who made the comment about how your preplanned ideas would change was probably trying to make a joke, or even to let you know that it's okay for things not to work out the way you thought they would.  It doesn't sound like the best way of putting it, though.   :P  Your responses sound perfect.

Congratulations on your upcoming event!  I hope everything goes very smoothly, whatever you have planned.   ;)

momtomany

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 216
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2008, 09:09:37 PM »
As a mom of five wee beasties, let me tell you...lol, just kidding.  Honestly, despite the fact that after 5 I may have some idea what I'm doing, people still give me advice.  One memorable lady was very, very upset that I didn't have a sweater on my baby.  It was July and if I could have successfully worn the onsie outfit, I would have.  And this is my advice:  They put them in dumpsters and they live.  Your kid will be fine. 

I do tell childless/free friends that I did my best parenting before I had kids, too.  And in defense of moms everywhere...if you breastfeed - cool.  IF you don't - cool.  And just because I personally make babyfood, it does not mean that I am a nut.  It is less expensive & takes about 20 minutes a week.  I also make my own laundry detergent.  If your budget allows you to buy these products, well you rock on with that.  As long as your getting the job done, it makes no earthly difference as far as I can tell.  Oh, and disposable vs. cloth....either way, your little one is going to poop on it. 

VorFemme

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 13154
  • Strolls with scissors! Too tired to run today!
Re: Side-Stepping The Politics of Giving Birth
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2008, 01:31:41 AM »
"I'm still researching that - what did you do?" might work - if nothing else they will be too busy telling you their experiences to remember to ask you many more questions...........

I remember the cousin's wife who was telling me about her kid having SIX teeth then wondered why I didn't exclaim over his precociousness.  DS was due the same time but was born about a month ahead of schedule.  Then DS wandered over and gave her a big smile with eight teeth (granted two were still coming in) and she said something along the lines of "oh, no wonder you didn't react"...........

It does not matter what you say - if the person you are talking to agrees 110%, someone in the area will immediately come over to tell you that you are doing it all wrong........

I remember a cartoon about a pregnant woman asking a doctor with a huge bookshelf of baby books behind him which one was the "best".............he told her that it depended on the baby which book's methods worked the best. 

I know that my two were different.  Mom tells me that the four of us were all different.  MIL says the same about her three.  I was too young to ask the mother of twelve how much they differed as I was playing with number nine and my sister was playing with number ten.
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?