Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MYOB - Baby Edition

So, Kate Middleton, oops, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant and tabloid editors around the world rejoiced. Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess on their baby. Now, everyone please leave the poor girl alone so she can vomit and receive i.v. fluids in peace.

Reportedly, she has hyperemesis gravidarum, which isn't some Harry Potter spell. It's like super-sized morning sickness. I've had two friends with this and one ended up on anti-nausea medicine given to people going through chemo. I'll bet the next nine months can't go fast enough for poor Kate.

The hoopla surrounding babies, especially celebrity babies got me thinking: Why are we all so fascinated by the family planning choices of other people? Obviously, the birth of the future monarch of Great Britain is one thing, but even we mere mortals are subject to the scrutiny of strangers passing judgment on our child-bearing choices. What pregnant woman hasn't been stopped by a stranger who wants to guess the gender of her unborn child based on whether she's carrying big, small, high, or low? You can be sure that they guess correctly about 50% of the time. My experiences with unsolicited baby-related comments have been pretty startlingly personal, but more funny than anything else. When I was pregnant with the Baby and was grocery shopping with the Boy and the Girl who were two years and four years old, an old man stopped me by the yogurts.
Old Man: Don't you know how that happens? (gesturing at my belly)
Me: (forced laughter) ha, ha.
A friend suggested that it would have been great to go back in time and stage whisper, "No. Tell me, please. How did this happen??"

I'm on a listserv comprised of neighborhood moms and a lady posted that she and her husband had decided to only have one child and wanted some support for that decision. Well, that started an avalanche of women posting about all the unsolicited comments they had received from family, friends, and total strangers about their family size. Some of the comments are easy to predict. Like when you already have two boys or two girls and are pregnant someone will inevitably ask whether you are "trying" for the opposite sex. Maybe some people are having a third for that reason, but who cares? And since there's no way to game the system of determining your baby's gender, the pregnant lady must realize that there's a 50-50 chance that she's going to have whatever gender it is that she already has.

One comment that I got after I had the Girl and the Boy was, "oh, you have one of each, you're all finished now." Well, I have always wanted to have three kids, so I knew I wasn't finished after two. I don't know why three seemed like the magic number to me and there are certainly days when I question the sanity of that decision, but here we are and I'm happy with our three-kid family. A logical corollary to this question is the "was the Baby a mistake?" question. Now y'all know. The Baby was not an accident. She was an on-purpose.

My friend, Emily whose son is an only child gets questions about that decision, especially because we live in a town know to have a good public school system. Emily says that when people ask her questions about her decision to have one kid, she tells them that she moved to our town for the garbage service, not for the schools.

Another child-related game that strangers love to play is: who do the kids look like? Before the Baby was born, the K and I were out to eat with the Girl and Boy. They both have blue eyes and light hair like me. The K has brown eyes and dark brown hair. Some old guy at the next table turned to the K and said, "I'm sure you were there, but those kids don't look anything like you, do they?" The K was super happy to have a stranger question his wife's fidelity. You know what they say, "Mama's baby, Daddy's maybe."

Speaking of babies, when the Baby was born she had a full head of black hair (it's since turned blonde). The K brought the big kids to the hospital to visit us and the nurse who wheeled me from the delivery room to my regular room said, "your baby doesn't look much like your other kids, does she?" Well, no, because she looks like Winston Churchill, just like every other baby.

Sister has a friend who is white and her husband is Asian. Sister's friend was at a store with their son and a stranger asked if he was one of those babies adopted from China. I mean, for real??? Sister's friend said that no, her husband was Chinese, hence the Asian-looking toddler. Doesn't that remind you of when Michael Scott on The Office meets Karen Filippelli, played by Rashida Jones, and asks whether her father was a GI? The scary thing is that there are people out there who are just as clueless as a fictional character whose main trait is his cluelessness and tone-deafness.

So, all of the preceding questions are mostly silly, harmless nosiness. But, on the other end of the spectrum are those questions that go beyond being rude and are potentially hurtful. If a couple is of child-bearing age, have been married for a while, and do not have children, one of two things is probably going on: 1. they want to have children and are having trouble conceiving, or 2. they don't want children. So, really, why ask any questions related to childbearing of these couples? It's none of your business, and if they want to talk about their situation, let them raise the issue. There have to be a million other topics of conversation, so talk about movies, or books, or sports, or anything else. Just avoid the baby topic unless they raise it themselves.

By the way, Paddy Power, Europe's largest betting company is giving 8-1 odds that Kate and William's baby will be named Mary, Victoria, or John; 9-1 odds on Diana or Frances; and 10-1 on Charles, Phillip, Anne, or George. Just in case you were wondering. Not that I was.

1 comment:

  1. Is "MYOB" going to be ongoing, like "MYOB Mondays?" Love the idea. Don't worry I won't steal it from you.