22 Jan

Sitting over a cup of Earl Grey, in a dingy coffeehouse on Queen West, my friend and I talked and laugh, wondering about a magazine devoted solely to Airports, questioning our pasts, our futures, and the amount of ice cream in her soy milkshake. She tried to convince me that a Master Cleanse was a good thing. I tried to explain I was good with moderation. We agreed to disagree at many things, much as we always have, a roll of the eyes, a toss of hair, a glance and a sigh.

We started talking about my favorite pet subject, childbirth, and I went on my usual rant about how transformative and incredible it was, and yet how our culture demeans it so, treats women as imbeciles who don’t dare question a doctor or know their own bodies. I talked about the intensity of birth, of your body straining to expel your child, about the smell about 3 days after, dead blood and sour milk, and the overwhelming icky feeling to your skin. I spoke of choice, of options, of deciding for yourself what is best, of being sure and confident.

She waited for me to pause and said, “You’re making me not want to have children.”

I’ve never wanted to jump up and scream NO NO NO! so much in my life. I didn’t intend this, I only want to warn her, to provide a pause for her, so confidence, a warning that expectation is, at heart, an evil we bring upon ourselves. I only wanted to let her know that it is this altering experience, good or bad, and that she should go with it, educate herself and just see where it led her.

Yet I scared her. The one thing I never want her to feel, the one reason for talking so much, was to keep her from feeling fear when she finds herself pregnant. And I failed.

10 Responses to “Tea”

  1. Carin January 22, 2007 at 10:42 pm #

    You can’t control how someone takes the info you give them. It may end up helping her out in the long run.

  2. Eden January 23, 2007 at 12:57 am #

    Some people prefer to know the unvarnished truth. If you had said that to me before I had kids, it wouldn’t have dampened my desire one bit and I would have thanked you for the candid information.

    Keep telling the story.

  3. venessa January 23, 2007 at 10:46 am #

    It’s important to be truthful. If people don’t understand what’s going to happen, how are they going to handle it when it hits them like a ton of bricks? And I use the word “understand” very lightly. No matter how much we tell people, it will only be the tip of the iceberg compared to the actual experience.

    And could I use any more cliches in my post while I am here? Maybe I could say something about squeezing a watermelon out of lemon…

  4. thordora January 23, 2007 at 11:25 am #

    It’s funny, because when I think back, some of those cliches ARE true. For me, it was more in the way it was presented. I was told it would HURT, period. I wasn’t told how powerful and feminine I would feel, how I would notice the transition from child to woman, how I COULD do it, even if I thought I couldn’t.

    I just want her to believe in herself.

  5. Heather January 23, 2007 at 1:41 pm #

    Send her a copy of a REALLY GOOD childbirth book with an apology for scarring her brain 😀 Ina May is good for empowering birth stories. Don’t go with Spiritual Midwifery, though – it’s too hippie for most people. Guide to Childbirth is better.

    If I would have read Guide to Childbirth while I was preggo instead of What to Expect, things may have gone differently. Knowledge is power, the More You Know, and all that..

  6. thordora January 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm #

    I read that book, and i STILL didn’t have the balls to tell people to fuck off. Social support is a big one as well.

  7. Heather January 23, 2007 at 3:03 pm #

    Oh, definately. I don’t mean to discount social support at all, it’s incredibly important.

  8. karriew January 23, 2007 at 3:16 pm #

    I wouldn’t worry too much about having scared her knees permanently together.

    I mean, my mother showed me her vulvar varicosities when I was 13 and she was pregnant with my brother, and I still eventually had a kid. 🙂

    Honest information is important. I have shared things with single, childless friends that do not seem like a big deal to me now, and watched their faces shift into horror. It just reminds me how many changes we go through to become mothers and how strong we really are. Our friends will find their own strength.

  9. liprap January 23, 2007 at 3:47 pm #

    I saw a LOT of things when my mom was pregnant with my brother, and then his early years came rolling along after. All of those things made me bound and determined, at fifteen and for many years thereafter, that I was never, ever going to have children.

    One conversation doesn’t put a person off kids for life. And neither does four years of actually seeing early childhood in action. Things change, and chances are, your friend will remember, at a future date, the beautiful aspects of what you were trying to convey to her about birth and raising children.

    It could have been worse… you could have told her one of our PPD stories!!!! 😎

  10. mamaloo, the doula January 23, 2007 at 3:52 pm #

    I think that women who aren’t pregnant often have a hard time putting themselves in the space where they can process that info and what it really means.

    I think it’s important, though, to keep spreading a message of woman power, in any context. The more women value themselves and are valued by others, the better the situation will eventually be for women’s health care.

    Can you imagine if men, as patients, were treated as pregnant and birthing women are treated by their health care providers? Can you imagine men, as a group, putting up with lies, misdiagnosis, belittling and abuse at the hands of their heart doctors, their urologists, their oncologists?

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