I’ve always lived my life talking about my blessings rather than my burdens, and its been an effective way to develop solid foundations in life. I like to think my perception of the positives in my own little universe has made a pretty grounded human being with a realistic outlook on life, and generally quite a happy person. I don’t like to ponder on the crap that won’t help me move forwards and I don’t have room for self-pity or the exaggeration of ‘WTF’ moments in my immediate vicinity. Chris Rock said it best; “Shit’s big, but don’t make it bigger than it is!”.
Its come to my attention recently that not only are many couples (or individuals) more than happy to share way too much about their pregnancy, birth and parenting experiences, with myself and Mrs D. A lot of them tend to thrive on telling a gruesome story with all of the details included. Without pointing fingers at the fairer sex, it’s fair to say that it’s mostly the fairer sex… but thats not to say blokes don’t do this as well. Not all couples we’ve met have done this but at least 30-40% of them have. Most people are ever so supportive and helpful, they ask appropriate questions and genuinely extend a sense of congratulations and give us helpful advice.
Then there’s the ‘others’. The grotesque men and women who think it’s appropriate to tell you what obscure objects you could’ve lost in the massively dilated void. What happened to said void after it had expelled a small human and how they almost died driving to work after a hellish night of no sleep, puke and being wrist deep in baby shit. They exist and I suspect they know who they are. My question is simply ‘WHY!?’ Why would you tell expectant parents these stories full of 1. highly exaggerated self pity and 2. hopelessness akin to a snowman in the Bahamas!
We’ve been out at a social gathering getting to know a group of couples we’d never met before. We said hello and introduced ourselves and the topic of Mrs Ds sizeable bump (34 weeks) was quickly the first port of call for conversation. After a few formality type questions, this group of women suddenly decided to be overly eager to tell my wife and I, who had the worst experience in labour and who’s child kept them up the most. The guys nodded in agreement and added their two pence as to how extremely difficult it all was and shook their heads in disapproval. Now whilst absorbing their gruesome stories about pain, blood, sweat and tears, I could only think to myself ‘I’ve JUST met you, I don’t know you but in the space of 10 minutes you’ve told me how much of a pain in the figurative arse, your child was when he/she was born. In addition you’ve made you husband agree on just how much of a bitch you were too him whilst delivering his child, and you seem quite proud of it. Weird.
The blokes agreed while their wives had an open debate about who was the biggest victim of childbirth and I can only assume they were fighting over some grand prize as I’ve never seen anyone verbally scrap over something so ridiculous. One of the men took one look at Mrs Ds face and turned to his other half and said, ‘Stop it, you’re scaring her’. This lady then stopped in her tracks, in mid-sentence, which consisted of her telling us how she literally lost the use of her limbs and basic bodily functions following an epidural. All I could imagine was this poor women, laying on a hospital bed with her arms and legs dangling off the sides (as though she was sleeping on horse back) whilst dribbling onto the plastic sheet they cover the bed with and a baby poking its head out from under the gown.
After her abrupt halt to the story she back tracked a little and followed up with the most absurd sentence I’ve ever heard ‘Oh but don’t worry, you’ll be fine!’. A sentence which further outlined her ‘victim-ness’ as her experience was way worse than anyone else’s and was a complete 180 in tone! About 20 minutes later, a man who felt that our humble ‘hello’ was a prompt for him to voluntarily insist that my wife breast feed and helpfully informed us that ‘you can buy a pump you know?’
We’re all sitting around the same table and we’re seemingly perfectly normal human beings, as are our parents and most peoples parents like them… surely they didn’t go through this experience that you liken to hammering a nail into your nostril. We are well aware of the complications and challenges of pregnancy and parenthood. I would imagine that any reasonably responsible parent-to-be would ponder the possibilities of what may happen and at least attempt to mentally prepare themselves for what’s to come. Even if you don’t know what’s to come, when it happens let it be and don’t wear your sadly self-indulgent ‘problems’ on your jacket like a badge of honour. Offer practical and helpful advice to those who haven’t been where you’ve been yet. Express your gratitude of being lucky enough to have a healthy child before you talk about how difficult it was for you. Now I can forgive those who have very very recently had a tough experience and feel a real sense of trauma but i would imagine those people have a very different tone.
It’s actually quite difficult to find positive birth stories that people are willing to divulge, and I suspect it is because those who consider it a positive experience like to cherish it and appreciate it without feeling the need to blurt it out at the mere sight of a pregnant woman.
My opinion will sound harsh and I maybe wrong, but purely based on this experience, I believe what a lot of these people have in common is toxicity. Like a poison, they do very little, if anything to enrich your life, or make it any easier. Whatever the situation, you’ll often find that a toxic person thrives on drama, and will dwell excessively on any negative experience that befalls them – cementing their victimhood and sucking the positive energy from those around them. Not to mention that if the whole experience was as bad as you claim it is, NO ONE would even imagine having more than 1 child.
As a father-to-be, I will do everything in my power to shield my child from this type of person, and ensure that my families values are based in a positive outlook on life. Many of our friends and family and not so close people we know, have offered us valuable advice and insight into what we should be thinking about. Some of them have opposite opinions to us but we value their sincere contributions all the same. We always take the time out to consider every perspective laid out by those who we feel are there to be helpful.
Life isn’t always easy, but making it sound harder than it is, probably wont do you any favours. Count your blessings, accept your circumstances, appreciate the journey and positively effect someone else’s life and experience… other than that, keep your mouth shut.