It’s a universal truth that at some point during her pregnancy, a woman will experience the following, probably several times:
She’ll be having a discussion about something related to pregnancy, babies, or children, and somebody will end up telling her a horror story about something that happened to her or someone she knows. I’ve been referring to this as “horror storying,” and it often is accompanied by unsolicited assvice.
It goes like this:
Asshole: Blah blah blah [insert pregnancy-related issue here].
Pregnant Woman: Oh yeah, I’ve done a lot of research on that issue. I’m going to do X.
Asshole: Oh! I have a friend who did X. [Insert horror story about terrible thing that happened to Friend of Asshole as the result of doing X.] You really should consider doing Y.
Pregnant Woman: ….
To the assholes of the world who do this: Really? Is this really necessary? Even if you mean well, what’s the point? Do you think a pregnant woman is too stupid to make her own decision? Do you think she’s not aware of the risks of doing X or Y? Do you hope to make her do what you think is the right thing to do because she’s afraid? Do you think you know better than she does?
I decided early on in this pregnancy to do my best to avoid two things: (1) discussing my pregnancy (aside from here) unless another person brings it up first (because doing so seems to be “asking for it” and because I don’t think my pregnancy is all that interesting to anybody but B, me, and our families); and (2) making any decisions for myself or my child based on fear.
This is why I’ve been very quiet about the fact that I’m planning to have a home birth with a midwife (although I guess saying that here isn’t really keeping it quiet any more). Home birth is, in this country at least, outside the norm. Any time you’re pregnant and plan to do something outside the norm, people love to take the opportunity to horror story, tsk tsk, or otherwise try to make you freak out or change your mind. If you mention home birth, unless you’re on the mothering.com forums or talking to someone equally crunchy, you’ll probably hear some horror story about some pregnant woman who tried to give birth at home and died or her baby died or something else absolutely tragic happened. Nobody ever says that horror stories happen in the hospital, too, probably because that’s the norm in our culture — most people gave birth in a hospital or plan to give birth in a hospital one day, and that’s just how things “should be done” and nobody wants to think that anything can go wrong with the way things should be done.
I don’t understand why people horror story pregnant women, and I’ve heard that it gets even worse after you have the kid. Then it focuses on how X, Y, or Z decision you’ve made will result in something bad; how you’ll hate your animals; or how your life will change when you have a kid (no, really?!):
- You’re planning to use cloth diapers? Oh, that’s really hard! You’ll end up with diaper rash and that’s gross. You’ll be using disposable diapers soon enough!
- You’re not circumcising? What about infection?
- You’ll get rid of your pets after the baby comes (especially the cats).
- Enjoy sleep now! You’ll never sleep again!
Thankfully, I’m very opinionated and headstrong, so I won’t be persuaded by shit like this and I also won’t allow it to make me doubt our decisions. I just wish people would stop thinking I give a shit about their horror stories or what they think will happen. If you don’t have enough respect for me to realize that I’ve done research and come to an educated, thoughtful decision that I think is best, I’m not sure why you even bother to talk to me at all.