Friday, August 18, 2000

Ill-conceived conversation

What is it about women getting together that forces them to talk about childbirth? Seems every time I go to a wedding shower or a baby shower or just a party where the women congregate in the kitchen, the conversation invariably veers toward pregnancy and labor and all their attendant discomforts. The mommies-to-be and the moms-that-have-been compare notes on who had the worst morning sickness, or the largest weight gain, or the most uncomfortable weather, or the least competent spouse. Sometimes someone will hold forth with a long involved story of delivery difficulty that everyone has heard before but listens to admiringly again.

At such times, I might as well just fade into the woodwork, or fall through the floor, for all the contribution I’m going to make to the conversation. As an adoptive parent and someone who never got very far with fertility treatments, I don’t begrudge fertile folks their ability to bear children, but sheesh, do I have to hear about it all the time? I’m usually not the only one falling silent—there’s usually an unmarried woman or a married woman who hasn’t had kids yet in the crowd, and we stand there like children listening to their father tell war stories, waiting for it to be over so we can go play.

You'd think that it might occur to someone that childless people in the room might be uncomfortable with all this talk. But then again, I suppose I blather on about my kids without considering whether people might be uncomfortable with that. Now, of course, my kids are wonderful and endlessly fascinating and who wouldn't want to know their every move? I suppose, though, that for someone having trouble having children, hearing about childish exploits might be as saddening as hearing about childbearing ones.

So maybe we should all just start talking about the weather. Or maybe I should just stop being so sensitive. In truth, there is one good thing about listening to endless stories about epidurals and episiotomies: They make me appreciate adoption all the more. I mean, we had a miserable time in Russia, and got stuck there far longer than we anticipated, but in the end, it was only a month, and I think I might have actually lost weight. No surgery, no hospitilization, no morning sickness (though the food did sometimes make me a little nauseated). And through it all, my husband was suffering just as much as I. Clearly these pregnant people are going about it all wrong, and next time I hear them go on I shall just sit back and gloat. Give me my kids ready-made, you bet.

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