Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 5.11.09

It’s already started. People have already begun saying those ridiculously nonsensical and trite things to me now that I’m pregnant.

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend who asked me whether I want a boy or a girl. I said I don’t really think I care much. A girl would be nice since we already have a boy, but my son is so much fun, I think another boy would be great. To which she responded, “How about we just say you don’t care as long as it’s healthy?” Huh?

I immediately pointed out that the two are not mutually exclusive. That parents don’t have to sacrifice the well being of their newborn in order to have a preference of one over the other. You can want a girl and, at the same time, want your child to not be born with cripplingly painful birth defects that wll kill her before she’s a month old.

When people say, “Oh we don’t care as long as it’s healthy.” I am always half tempted to ask, “Ok, what if it’s not? Like what if it’s stillborn or has to spend 3 months in the NICU. Then what do you want?”

Of course, that would be a hugely dickheaded thing to say, so I don’t.

What other non-sensical niceties or words of advice about parenting/parents (or parenting/pregnancy superstitions) drive you crazy because they make no sense? When people say/do these things, do you point out the ridiculousness of it?

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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154 Comments

  1. “If you eat tofu, you’ll have a girl”

    I generally respond in one of two ways:
    “You mean, there are no boys in China?”
    or
    “Since the gender comes from which genetic material the sperm carries, how does tofu discard one sperm and select another?”

  2. “We had a dog, so we feel like we know what to expect when we become parents.”

    To which I generally respond…

    “HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!”

    (unless they’re very good friends — then I don’t use the capslock)

  3. I am 5 months pregnant right now and my Mom insists that I can’t bring ANYTHING home for the baby before they are born. I tell her that people have been building nurseries and bringing baby stuff into the home for years and she stands by her superstition that it’s bad luck to bring anything into the house before birth. Oi.

    Hi everyone, btw. I’m new :-)

  4. With twins we got all kinds of dumb questions/tips. “You should keep them in the same bed since they are used to being together”. “Twins develop faster/slower/different/the same”.

    We also get a lot of “how lucky, a boy and a girl, you get them both done at the same time” C’mon people. TWO kids at the same time. Does that even sound easier if you really think about it?

    But the all time greatest conversation was
    “Are they girls or boys?”
    “One of each”
    “Are they both yours?”
    AAAHHHH… BRAIN EXPLODING!

  5. When my wife was pregnant with our first child my friends wife said to her :

    “I wouldn’t count on this because you know if you’re going to have a miscarriage it will probably be on the first one.”

    We don’t speak to them any more.

  6. I think most parents are able to recognize non-parents pretty quickly when they comment about things or give weird advice. We usually smile and nod and later say to each other “hmm, I don’t think they have any kids”.

  7. Since I don’t want children I don’t get pregnancy advice. What I do get is a lot of “Oh you’ll change your mind” or “Wait until your biological clock starts ticking”. Well I’ll be 27 next month and it hasn’t started ticking yet. I’m thrilled that my brothe rna dhis wife are expecting a baby, plan to spoil and subvert him or her but really like the idea of giving the kid back after a few hours.

  8. @durnett: Oh yeah, the girl-diet or boy-diet stuff made me go ‘hu?’ as well.

    The one that makes my blood boil more than anything is when idiots here in Oklahoma say that by allowing our Baby Grrl to love comics (Spider-Man is her fave), she’ll end up a lesbian. Yeah, you read that right. See because that’s something only BOYS can like, and if we want to avoid having a lesbian as a daughter, we need to just give her girl toys, like dolls. (More than one person has said this to us!)

    There’s just so much wrong with that line of thinking, it would make me stabby if I tried to rant about it all here.

  9. I’m not having kids, so my nonsensical experiences stem mostly from people insisting that I’ll change my mind, or that “it’s different when they’re your own,” or that I’ll regret it or won’t have anyone to take care of me or carry on my name, etc. etc. etc.

    But the “I don’t care as long as it’s healthy” totally made me think of this video:
    http://stfuparents.tumblr.com/post/100830285/viral-video-pregnant-women-are-smug-this-video. I mean absolutely no offense, I just think it’s funny.

    Oh, and I totally love it when couples go on Maury or Oprah or wherever and the man blames the woman for not “giving him a son,” despite the whole he-has-the-y-chromosome thing…

  10. Methinks those pregnancy hormones have already kicked in, Elyse.

    Honestly, though – maybe we should just take what the people are saying at face value, rather than try to pick it apart for perceived logical failings. They want their kid, whatever the gender, to have a good life and not be saddled with health problems. Regarding their non preference of genders, maybe they’re tacitly saying that “we’re not one of those assholes that is going to get really invested in having a boy (or a girl), and then get disappointed because the baby doesn’t come out with the right wedding tackle.”

  11. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for two years. I hate when people complain about something their kids are doing and then say “Be glad you don’t have any” To which I say “Ok, if you don’t want them we can trade. My four miscarriages for your kids.” No one has taken me up on that.

  12. I hate it when people make you feel guilty for wanting to know the sex of the baby beforehand. the typical reply is:

    “Oh I wouldn’t want to know the sex beforehand. I want it to be special/a miracle/a surprise.”

    Which brings up another pet peeve. It’s not a miracle! We’ve been fucking for thousands of years (animals, for millions)! We got the system down pat! It’s a natural process. No magic involved.

  13. Somewhat related (but maybe not really): As an identical twin, I really hate the bullshit people say/believe/ask. Seriously, folks, twins can’t read each other’s minds. No, I do not feel pain when she is in pain. No, we aren’t even that particularly close. Hell, we hated each other for years. I promise we do not have any special “TWIN POWERS!”

  14. @sowellfan:

    Methinks those pregnancy hormones have already kicked in, Elyse.

    Nope, I was already this much of a bitch before I was pregnant. Like most women, I don’t require extra hormones to not be pleasant and agreeable all the time.

    BTW, I understand the sentiment… but you know, I think everyone assumes that you want a healthy baby. You don’t need to tell me that.

    Having a preference, BTW, doesn’t mean you’re “one of those assholes” who’s going to be disappointed and not love your kid.

  15. @Jessika: Really, the part I hate about that is the implication that having a child that’s gay is somehow a bad thing.

    So my response would have to be a “So?” or “And your point is?” to try to draw out what they really mean and see if they realize it or not.

    I mean, if there *is* a link between not enforcing gender rolls (because that’s exactly what dolls/comics are trying to do) and non-heterosexuality…why is that a bad thing?

  16. It doesn’t come up often because my kid is generally well behaved, but I hate it when people tell me I *have* to spank my son.

    When my little boy was about 1 or 2, we were in a restaurant and he was talking really loudly. I was trying to get him to quiet down and was getting ready to walk him outside when my brother says that I should “beat the diaper” off of him.

    Sure..that makes sense…instead of a toddler who is merely talking too loudly…lets have a toddler who’s loudly screaming and crying because mommy beat him.

  17. @Pinkbunny:

    Or “its for the best” or “its just not your time” or “your body will know when you’re ready”.

    And after a miscarriage: But this is GOOD news! You can GET pregnant!

    As if getting pregnant were the important part.

  18. @williamk: Hahaha, I made my comment before I read the others.

    Can your twins read each other’s minds? LOL

    I always liked (read: hated) when someone would ask my birthday. “August 9!” I’d reply, and then they’d ask, “What about your twin’s? Is her birthday the same day?”

    NO. It’s September 24th.

    *smacks forehead*

  19. @marilove & @Noadi:

    Unfortunately no one warns you, “You’re 30 now and your clock is ticking. You think it’s a good idea, but just wait. Once you have them, you won’t want kids anymore.”

    I’ve spent the last 3 hours trying (and failing) to teach a 21-month-old that the dog is STILL not a baseball and still should not be hit with any baseball bats, improvised or otherwise, and that we don’t eat ants off the floor.

  20. @LawnBoy:

    I love that song!

    You wouldn’t believe the reactions I get each time I get pregnant.

    “Holy shit!! You’re pregnant? Ay dios mio!”

    And my response is all: “Stop it. Stop it. It’s not that big a deal. People get pregant all the time. You’d think I was one in a billion or something.”

    Or I get . . .

    “So have you heard from Ripley’s yet?”

    I don’t even really know what that means. But I’m sure it’s a nice thing to say to someone who’s pregnant, even though it may be a bit cliche.

  21. No kids so no one gives me or Mrs. SkepLit any pregnancy advice. We did have an aunt who told us we’d regret our decision one day. I told her “I already regret having a child. I’m just sure I’d regret having a child more.”
    Making choices between “good” and “bad” is child’s play. Adults are the ones who can choose between “bad” and “worse”.

  22. I got divorced a couple of years ago and we had no kids. (Thank dog for something!) At Thanksgiving that year, I was still in the middle of my divorce and two of my cousins were pregnant. My grandmother says to me, “Now all you need to do is find a man and have a baby, too.”
    I said, “Do you mind if I get divorced first?”

  23. @ durnett
    “If you eat tofu, you’ll have a girl”

    To which I would say my dog is named Tofu, you leave him alone!

    @ Noadi & Elexina
    My wife and I don’t want kids either. It’s really annoying when people (who mostly don’t know as very well at all) seem to think they know us well enough to make that assessment.

    Still, now that we are in our mid 30’s it’s an easier thing to refute.

    Although… they do have ONE point… it would be different if it was my own. If it was my own kid I would train it with mad ninja skills in order to dominate the genetically inferior children of everyone else.

    Probably another reason I shouldn’t be having kids.

    I hate hearing people say to the impregnated “Oh, how blessed.” or “Oh what a blessing.”

    It’s not a “blessing”! Someone simply ejaculated into some else’s vagina. You call THAT a blessing? Sounds gross to me (but still fun!)

  24. @Elyse:
    I hate hearing all of those! But the worst after a miscarriage is “You have a baby in heaven”
    As if there is a chubby cherub waiting at the gates for me. I saw it coming out. It wasn’t cute. It wasn’t pleasant. It was tissue and blood and if there are four of those waiting for me in heaven, I’m glad I’m not going.

  25. @Pinkbunny:A friend at work has a picture of his two sons on the wall next to a picture of two sets of tiny footprints. I thought they were the footprints of his two sons from their birth records. “No,” he told me, “they’re from my two girls. They were stillborn. They’re in heaven now.”

  26. After having our first two kids not born healthy, someone saying “as long as they are healthy” is rather annoying. I loved all three of our kids, healthy or not. I was just happy they survived out of the hospital. I was happy to hold them at all. And I would have loved them had they not been born. There are no “as long” clauses that make sense.

  27. This might raise flames, but: I don’t get saying “congratulations.” On what? Successfully managing to do what has been done for billions of years before? For continuing to procreate the species, which no-one else has ever done? For being a product of biology?
    [Of course I still do because I’m polite / can’t be bothered not doing so.]

    (And, no, I am not married nor with kids of my own, so this view may depend on that.)

  28. I’m on engineer in the oil business. When I was pregnant, and would have salesmen or consultants come into my office, I would get asked very personal things – by complete strangers. In my office. Many assumed I wouldn’t be going back to work, or would ask me if I was coming back. Or if I planned on breast feeding. (ALL of them were men, BTW). At my first pregnancy, my employer ( a VERY large oil company you would recognize) freaked out a little and had be do periodic physicals to make sure I was “OK” to work at a mostly desk job, sign releases, get a physical to return to work, etc. Same employer, second child, three years later, assigned me to work in a plant while I was pregnant, with no physicals or releases. This was a non-hazrdous location, too.

  29. Another pet peeve is that I have a relatively well behaved (never been spanked, never been taught about Jebus) 4 year old daughter and people tell me “My kids are monsters, you’re LUCKY; your daughter is an angel!”

  30. @Matto the Hun: “It’s really annoying when people (who mostly don’t know as very well at all) seem to think they know us well enough to make that assessment.”

    It’s worse than the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Avon Lady rolled together. We have babies! You need babies too! Babies, babies, babies! This is during those infrequent moments when these demented breeders are not complaining about their kids or how hectic their life has become. It’s like some sort of psychotic pyramid scheme where the number one goal is to get more people into the club no matter how hellish it is. I usually respond with”If you’d kindly take your hands of my balls and my wife’s ovaries we’d like to get back to our lives now.” And it’s bad enough that it renders our friends unbearable, but these barely formed human pups roughly shove one otherwise decent TV show after another over the shark: Mad About You, Friends, Scrubs, and for a few horrible moments I thought even Battlestar Galactica was going to jump the baby. Humph. And stay off my lawn!

    “To which I would say my dog is named Tofu, you leave him alone!”

    Oddly enough this is the second dog I have heard of called Tofu.

  31. I can’t even imagine having children. It’s the most frightening, most intimidating thing I could ever do, and it lasts. for. life. Also, I’m afraid that if I did have children, I would have to commit my mother to an insane asylum once I told her that they would not be going to a church of any kind to learn how to have a life long imaginary friend or go to hell otherwise.

  32. My mother has a friend who likes to think she can tell if you are pregnant with a boy or girl by looking at how high and wide your pregnant belly is. My mother has been pregnant four times, and the friend got it right once.

    Other things people say too, like oh, you are going to have a girl because… and then they say something utterly stupid.

  33. @LadyMitris:

    It doesn’t come up often because my kid is generally well behaved, but I hate it when people tell me I *have* to spank my son.

    I’m a little surprised that you would get advice like that from your brother. But it shocked me speechless when we got it from a complete stranger.

    In January, we flew to Hawaii for a family wedding/vacation. We live on the west coast, making it a five hour flight to Honolulu with our son (just shy of 3 at the time). We were a little worried about it because, honestly, he can be a handful at the best of times. But armed with many toys, books, and assorted electronic devices to distract and amuse him, we were delighted that he made it through the entire trip there without so much as a shout.

    The trip back, he actually slept for the first 3 hours, but after waking up he started getting a little restless. We managed to keep him occupied for a little over an hour, but about 40 minutes from landing he started really wanting to get up and move around. Totally understandable, but of course that’s the one part of the flight when they insist that you remain seated. So, yeah, he got a bit fussy and made some noise. But honestly, it was nowhere near as bad as we feared, and many people commented on how well-behaved and adorable he was during the trip. Except for the elderly gentleman across the aisle from us. After landing, but before we reached the gate, he made a point of leaning across to give us what sounded like a prepared speech which amounted to saying: “If you love your son, you have to beat him so he doesn’t become a monster.” It was delivered with a healthy dose of appeal to authority (He’s raised 6 kids), and I got the strong impression that he made a habit of giving this advice to everyone he met who had kids.

    I didn’t know what to say (well, I could think of several things, but I was too polite to say any of them) so I just nodded and smiled.

  34. @thad:

    Congratulations isn’t “Hooray you had sex!” or “Congratulations on fulfilling your biological imperative”

    Even if it is done all the time, for billions of years, it’s still a pretty cool thing to make a person… especially a wanted one.

    Besides, if we didn’t get excited about reproduction, we’d be doomed as a species.

  35. I have no children and cannot really answer directly. However, pregnancy isn’t the only situation that gets people saying stupid things. After my Mom died someone who should have known better said to me “She’s in a better place now.” I was upset enough to bark back, “Oh yeah? And where is that? Underground. Because last week she was in a nice soft bed and now she’s underground. I see nothing better about that!”

  36. I don’t have kids, but for some reason everybody wants to know when I’m getting married – as if I’m secretly engaged and just don’t feel like telling people or something. Without a doubt the most bizarre thing anyone’s said to me on the subject, when I stated categorically that I had made no nuptial plans yet, was, “But what if you get pregnant?” Bzuh?

  37. @Elyse: “Besides, if we didn’t get excited about reproduction, we’d be doomed as a species.”

    True enough to be a tautology, but I have yet to hear a convincing explanation as to why doomed as a species would be a bad thing. I’m not advocating it as a good thing, mind you. It’s just a little abstract to get worked up about one way or the other.

  38. how about when you only have ONE child and people keep pushing you to have a second child because everyone knows that only children are horrible spoiled brats.

    That or when I thought I was having a boy (had another girl) people said “well men tend to not leave their wife when there is a son, the man thinks the boy needs a father”. I had 4 people say that to me, and you know even though it is 18 years later I still expect at any minute my husband is going out that door because I had a GIRL!

  39. My grandmother actually told me that if I raise my hands above my head, the umbilical cord would get wrapped around the baby’s neck. She was not joking.

    She also told me I had to keep the cat out of the baby’s room because the cat would “suck the baby’s breath” and kill it.

    Granted, she didn’t go past 8th grade in a backwoods Tennessee one room school house. But still, this WAS in 1996.

  40. @Matto the Hun: Yeah, we generally bring up my husband’s vasectomy and that makes people uncomfortable enough that they stop talking about it.
    It doesn’t matter, though. Whether you choose to have kids or choose not to, or are pregnant, or can’t get pregnant, or decided to have one kid, or have six kids, whatever you do with your uterus is somehow strangely the business of the entire planet and everyone is entitled to share their opinion and tell you why your choices are silly and you don’t really understand what you’re talking about because the only decision that could possibly be right is whatever decision THEY made.
    Maybe someday someone will explain to me to my satisfaction why my reproductive decisions are the business of anyone but me, and possibly my partner. Unlikely, but maybe.

  41. @kittynh: “how about when you only have ONE child and people keep pushing you to have a second child because everyone knows that only children are horrible spoiled brats.”

    AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT AM NOT !!!!!!!!!!!

    @geek goddess: “Breeders” is a term used to describe people whose only mission in life is to spawn and subject the rest of the world to their miserable little monsters. Much like Octo-Tard, but usually with less of an overall contribution to the overpopulation problem.
    And yes, there is a difference between “parents” and “breeders,” just as there is a difference between “childless” and “childfree.”

  42. @ Maseca
    “My grandmother actually told me that if I raise my hands above my head, the umbilical cord would get wrapped around the baby’s neck. She was not joking.”

    Damn, now I wish I was a pregnant woman with just such a grandmother… I would walk around with my arms above my head ALL the time that she was around. It would be awesome!

    But probably not… I really loved my grammy.

    @ Elixina
    “Yeah, we generally bring up my husband’s vasectomy and that makes people uncomfortable enough that they stop talking about it.”

    Ahhh yes… I like that one. Ain’t vasectomies grand?

    When you can throw that back at someone… totally worth it.

    Speaking of dumb things to say and vasectomies… I always find it annoying and really stupid when it comes up in conversation that I’m had one and all the guys do the feigned I-got-kicked-in-the-nuts-reaction.

    a) those morons haven’t had it done so they don’t really know.

    b) It’s not that big a deal… in fact, it’s one of the littlest deals a guy can have done to his beans and frank.

    So when they do this I think something along the lines of “I’m so glad I’m only acquainted to you idiots and we aren’t friends” or “Once again I’m so sad my [female] friend married your dumb-ass.”

  43. Jessika: I have one better, when I was pregnant with my first we didn’t know the gender ahead of time. So when the subject of nursery decoration comes up one of my coworkers implies (a little hysterically) that the sexual orientation of my child will be affected by the color of the room they live in.

  44. I’m five months pregnant. I’ve had my share of people guessing the sex based on how I “carried” (they unanimously went with boy. Nope!) And I actually had a few dingbats attempt to tell me I could influence the gender of my ALREADY GESTATING FETUS by what I ate.

    But what kills me in general is the general treatment of me as if I am a fragile glass object that will break under the slightest strain. I must not lift heavy grocery bags, walk in heels, or park my car too far from the entrance of a store — never mind that I walk two miles every day with two hyperactive dogs.

    Also, I must not consume soft cheese, soft serve, hot dogs, deli meats, caffeine, a drop of alcohol, sprouts, or any food that has been exposed to the air for more than an hour. Otherwise my baby will be born with its face on backwards.

  45. Let’s see, so many:
    “You got to be tough on that boy, don’t mollycodle him or you’ll turn him into a fag.”

    “If any of my boys was gay I’d kill, what about you?”

    “I can tell if it will be boy or girl by hanging this wedding ring on a thread and seeing how it swings in front of her belly”

    and the worst was from my ex-wife.
    “Don’t have a vasectomy, what if one of them dies, how will we replace it?”

  46. When people would ask us, “Which do you want?” we would reply, “Gay or straight, we don’t care.”

    I was actually hoping for a daughter, so I was pleased when we found out that the fetus was probably a girl, but it wasn’t a major issue.

  47. I have two lovely daughters who are teenagers now. After my second daughter was born, people kept asking my husband and I if we were going to keep trying for a boy. ??? What’s wrong with having two girls? We like our girls very much and we never wanted more than two kids. What a kooky thing to say to a person.

  48. Wow, remind me not to make any small talk with you!

    I say it because I really don’t care whether it’s a boy or girl or gay or straight, but I DO care if it’s healthy…and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that, thank you very much.

    Of COURSE I’ll love it no matter what, but I do hope there are no big problems.

    This is nothing more than a way of saying that hoping for health trumps something like gender.

    I think you are working pretty hard to find something to pounce on. Is there anything people could say that you won’t be offended by?

  49. For what it’s worth on the boy/girl issue, apparently when I was born one of the nurses in the hospital was a neighbour of my parents’, who had three sons and was dying for a girl. When Mum was still under from the anaesthetic for the C-section, Nurse-Neighbour Lady swooped in, snatched me from Dad’s arms and plonked herself down in the rocking chair. It took some coaxing before she would let my father have me back. So I guess to some people it really does matter quite a lot. (She did later have a daughter, much to everyone’s relief.)

  50. Re: breeders… I’ve actually heard the term used to describe anyone capable of breeding, too, not just Duggar-type multipliers. I was once called a breeder by a gay friend, and I found it kind of insulting because it insinuated that I would in fact be breeding -which was the furthest thing from my mind at the time.
    Mainly, though, the term is used by CF folk to differentiate regular normal sane parents from the baddies, so to speak.

  51. After reading this thread, I am doubly glad that my sweetie plans to save up bail money should I ever be pregnant. Being pregnant AND hearing all these stupid remarks constantly would push me right over the edge.

  52. @jansob: There is a difference between small talk and moronic talk. People think that pregnant woman don’t really have a say, and that they can give their opion about EVERY THING in regards to pregnancy.

    I am glad I do not want to children. If I had to deal with RANDOM STRANGERS trying to touch my belly (I’ve seen this with pregnant friends and family, wtf!), I’d be punching people left and right.

  53. As Elyse’s nonsensical friend, I would like to take a moment to defend what I have said.

    A) Yes it was just small talk!

    B) No, boy vs girl and having a healthy baby is not mutually exclusive. But really, does it matter what sex the baby is? The sex of the baby is already determined so debating what you want does seem a bit trivial.

    C) You don’t see Elyse going on a binge drinking, cigarette smoking, drug craze on her weekends, do you? So she is trying to reduce her chances of having an unhealthy baby ( so it does matter)

    D) The truth is no matter boy vs girl or healthy vs unhealthy I know Mrs. and Mr. Elyse will continue to be awesome parents.

    E) Really I thought saying does it matter so long as it is healthy was a much improved statement over a previous statement that I had made. “So long as it’s not a midget I will love it!”

  54. @marilove: I solved that by simply stating “back off unless you want to lose a hand.” Some were offended, but most just chuckled and figured it was the hormones (it wasn’t). Of course during my last few months, I started wearing an old Bill Hicks shirt that said “Do you think I’m wearing black because I’m a fucking ray of sunshine?” People were more wary when I wore that for some reason.

  55. @Alice Faye: “But really, does it matter what sex the baby is?”

    Most people will say it doesn’t matter but that doesn’t mean that some people don’t have a preference, and there is nothing wrong with that. It should also be assumed that mothers (and fathers!) want healthy babies (but that if something were to happen, they wouldn’t love them any less). “Well, let’s just hope it’s healthy!” can be … insensitive. What if it WASN’T “healthy” (ie, a couple just found out the baby had Downs) and you weren’t aware of it? It’s like walking up to a woman you don’t know, asking her when she is due … and finding out she’s not pregnant.

    I loled at E).

  56. What other non-sensical nicities or words of advice about parenting/parents (or parenting/pregnancy superstitions) drive you crazy because they make no sense? When people say/do these things, do you point out the ridiculousness of it?

    A vast amount of human discourse, both public and private, involves, and I think it could pretty easily be argued, requires “non-sensical nicities [sic]*.”

    I know what Elyse is getting at, and sure there is a point to be made, but still….

    Perhaps it’s a quibble, but we tend at times to be a bit too hard on people who are after all only trying to make nice. And society (which is us after all) is rather responsibile for making pregnancy and motherhood some prolix mix of magic, mania, and myth with many dollops of sentiment and public access attached.

    I don’t think we should be so cavalier, or dismissive of social small talk, even when it is irritating to us as individuals. After all, as individuals we are a vanishingly small percentage of the population of any given society.

    Anyway, people are only acting on a species-supporting evolutionary somewhat instinctual bias, no? Coodly, coodly, coo, and all that?

    * To be sensible, it should be nonsensical niceties. But hey, that’s just another quibble.

  57. And honestly, I think the complaint is that pregnant women seem to be fodder for everyone — their pregnancy is EVERYONE’S fucking business, even if they don’t want to be. The sex, what they’d do if they found out it was gay, what they eat, how they sleep, what kind of birth they are going to have (natural or not? c-section or not?), if they are going to breastfeed or not, if they are going to co-sleep, if they will have more babies…

    Quite frankly, I think most women don’t give a shit what other people think about their pregnancy, but our society seems to think everything a woman, ESPCIALLY in regards to having babies, is somehow not a private matter.

  58. @marilove: And as a woman who plans to NOT HAVE CHILDREN EVER, even I fucking get it. It is somehow everyone’s business that I don’t want children, or rather, everyone thinks –and loves to tell me–that what I think I want is WRONG! Of COURSE I want children! I’m just kidding myself! Being a mommy is all a woman wants to do with her life! Why would I want to end up childless and alone?! How depressing that must be!

    It is sometimes hard not to slap people.

  59. @JSug: “Except for the elderly gentleman across the aisle from us. After landing, but before we reached the gate, he made a point of leaning across to give us what sounded like a prepared speech which amounted to saying: “If you love your son, you have to beat him so he doesn’t become a monster.””

    I would have replied “I only beat people like you that are already monsters”. I have no interest in being polite to people that suggest my childeren should be beaten.

    @Gabrielbrawley: No, those are called Gibsons or Osmonds.

  60. Well the fact of the matter is I never comment or share my feelings about pregnancy with someone I do not know or do not know well.

    Pregnancy does not only affect the mother and the father. It affects family and friends. In the case of Elyse it does affect me! I am an only child who does not want to have kids. The likelihood of ever being vested in a childs life rests soley on Elyse and her offspring.

    Her pregnancy affects when and how often I get to visit. It affects how often I get to chat with her before Moose does a nose dive off the couch. It affects the topics of conversations we have. Her pregnancy affects everyone around her.

    So call me the selfish one, thats fine, but pregnant women should realize that we are all affected by their pregnancy.

  61. @Alice Faye: I never called you selfish?

    “but pregnant women should realize that we are all affected by their pregnancy.”

    And that’s kind of lame, honestly. I mean, obviously, as a friend there are certain things you are privvy to and “allowed” to ask without it being odd — but I think mainly people were concentrating on random people, or people they don’t know well, making odd comments that are none of their business.

    I think people should realize that a woman — pregnant or not — is not their property and it is none of their business what a woman does with her body in regards to pregnancy (or not wanting to have babies).

  62. I understand the sentiment of the original post. I do ask the opposite question then. What is acceptable to say to a pregnant woman?

    I not having nor wanting children usually will say congratulations, when is the big day, and do you know what you are having yet.

    Is there acceptable protocol when talking to a pregnant woman?

  63. @Alice Faye & @marilove:

    To be fair, the number of people around me is incredibly small.

    There’s a small number of close friends, my husband, Moose, my parents, and my 400 or so followers on Twitter.

    Most of those people can talk to me about whatever about my pregnancy.

    I’m also not really all that uptight about what people ask me, I’m pretty self absorbed and willingly indulge people who are willing to let me blather on endlessly about myself.

    Though, in my case, announcing such a thing to thousands of people on a well-trafficked blog
    does change certain expectations of privacy.

    With my last pregnancy, I was surprised at the number of people who asked me if this was something that I wanted. As if I was just putting on a happy facade for the public but would willingly confide in random co-workers that I was actually stopping off for an abortion after work. (This time, lots of people asked but that was my own fault.)

    And as far as midgets go, Alice Faye totally loves Moose and he’s super tiny.

  64. @Alice Faye: Just don’t get too personal. Don’t ask her unending questions. Don’t insist that she wants a girl when she says she doesn’t care or that she wants a baby. Don’t touch her belly without her permission. Don’t tell her weird wive’s tails about how to best get a girl or boy. Don’t tell her how to parent so she doesn’t have a gay child.

    Basically, don’t be an intrusive ass. Friends and family tend to have different rules — though some family members can get intrusive, too. Like, I’m tired of my family telling me that someday, I’ll change my mind and want babies.

  65. @Alice Faye:

    You could try using the same protocol that you use for talking to non-pregnant women.

    How was your weekend?
    Carrie Prejean is such a ditz!
    Have you tried the new cajun place down the street?
    Want to see a picture of my new puppy?
    Did you buy a copy of the new Skepchick calendar? It’s hot!

    But we do reserve the right to give overly intimate answers to anyone who asks overly intimate questions.

    If you ask for dirty details, I can tell you how dilated I am or tell you that I can’t go grocery shopping without peeing myself a little before I get through produce.

  66. @Alice Faye: I just don’t talk about pregnancy. If the woman wants to talk about it and brings it up, fine. Otherwise, I congratulate them (assuming it is a happy event) and indicate that I’m happy for them and generically interested, but none of it is my business unless she wants to make it my business. Unless she tells me she’s having a homeopathic birth and won’t be vaccinating her kid, in which case I delete her contact information and mark her e-mails as “spam.” And I tell her that I can’t be around her because she and her child are a health risk.
    :-)

  67. @SicPreFix:

    I fixed one of your quibbles.

    The other is one that I still find annoying and condescending and the opposite of small-talk, so I can’t fix that.

    That said, I’ve never been good at small talk. I tend to smile awkwardly and nod when people try to engage me in mindless chatter. Not that I wouldn’t like to be good at it, my brain just freezes up and that only thing I can think of to say is, “yeah”.

  68. My grandmother actually told me that if I raise my hands above my head, the umbilical cord would get wrapped around the baby’s neck. She was not joking.

    My grandmother did that to my aunt, too. The cord did end up wrapped around her son’s foot, and they had to monitor him closely throughout the birth to make sure it didn’t get pulled too tight and cut off blood flow. Grandma felt vindicated in her prediction.

    I don’t have kids yet, I’d like to finish my Masters first, but I got married last year, and apparently marriage causes pregnancy (apparently my 4-year-old theories were right!) because every time I speak to a relative (particularly my stepmom) I’m asked if I’ve got any big news. A couple times I’ve actually had big news, such as securing funding (while everyone else is losing theirs), winning scholarships, etc, and said as much. Then watched everyone’s eyes glaze over as they realize it’s not actually big news. It was just a personal accomplishment.

    I explain that now’s not a good time to have children (me Masters student, he teacher-on-call), and they retort with “it’s not always planned”. And I suppose that’s true, for some. But I’m really actively not trying, and I fail to see how if it’s not a good time to have a planned child, it would magically be a good time to accidentally have one if the pill failed. It’s a little stomach-turning that they’d be happier for me if I was unhappily having an unwanted child now (I guess they assume I wouldn’t/couldn’t abort) than waiting to have a child when we’re willing and able.

    Seriously, if the woman is telling you she’s pregnant, it’s probably a happy event. If it’s not a happy event, it’s probably not going to be an event.

  69. @SaraDee: “d they retort with “it’s not always planned”. ”

    See, that’s the thing. People assume ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE! want a child, even when it’s not planned, because even if it’s not planned, surely we really do want it! We are ust baby makin’ machines.

  70. @JSug: All I could think to say in a situation like that would be “so what did your parents do wrong?”

    Having no children, and no great desire to have them, I’ve gotten the “oh, you’ll want them some day” or “some day you’ll have a wife who wants them, and then everything changes.” The casual assumption that everyone wants children and that anyone who doesn’t is obviously just young and foolish and will learn better is annoying. But not half as much as the assumption that I’m not supposed to want children, I’m supposed to find a woman who’ll want them, because obviously every woman does. I tend to just say “we’ll see,” without going any further in to it.

  71. @Elyse:
    I don’t get small talk either. So much of it is harmless and filtering it out is easy…but at a funeral I attended for a close friend’s stillborn baby (no discernable cause) one of her relatives had the balls to say, “well, at least she wasn’t born with a bunch of disabilities.” It went downhill from there.

  72. 8 week old infant here, so it’s fresh in mind…

    “So, what do you want to have?/Do you know what it is yet?” “We’re hoping for human.”

    “Are you sure you should be doing that?” “I’m pregnant, not disabled.”

    I went 16 days past my due date – pretty much any comment implying that he was being lazy or I needed to evict him, etc, would be met with a torrent of information about how the average gestation length for first baby is actually 41.5 weeks, the relative risks of induction vs allowing labor to progress don’t indicate that kicking him out early will result in a healthier baby, etc – and that’s if I was in a good mood. In a bad mood, prepare to part ways with your head – I was sick of people implying that there was something wrong with him for not having been born yet, or with me for actually being fairly comfortable with letting him take his time.

  73. @Mazlynn: Similarly, my younger sister was annoyed when she decided to have labor induced when her baby was 4 days passed his due date. She was being driven insane and was in a lot of pain (BABY WAS HUGE!!! almost 10 lbs!). Some people took offense to her decision, like … it was their baby. “But why don’t you just let it happen NATURALLY?!” “BECAUSE I WILL START KILLING PEOPLE IF THE DAMN THING DOES NOT COME OUT NOW, THAT’S WHY.” was her usual response.

  74. HA! white or human, awesome. When people asked “do you know what it is?” she began replying “Looks like: seahorse”.

    I also had to add to idiotic questions re: are they identical (except for the penis)… my friend’s grandmother is a legend in the family because she was born very premature in a prairie farmhouse, and was not expected to live. 96 years ago, out in the boonies, no incubators or IV tubes, they kept her wrapped in a blanket in a shoebox near the stove. They had to feed her with a dropper for the first few weeks, because she wouldn’t nurse. At this point, 75% of the people hearing the story inevitably ask my friend, or her mother, as they are telling the story, begun with “My grandmother” or “My mother”: “Did she live?”

  75. Q: “Is it a boy or a girl?”
    A: (indignantly) “Yes, of course it is! What else would it be? Who’s been talking to you? It was Mrs Giraldi, wasn’t it? Spreading rumors. I’ll teach her…” (storms off)

  76. @marilove: Yup. Whether to induce is something that should be a decision between the mom and the doctor, based on the best phsyical and mental health of mom and baby. It should not be a decision of random people in the supermarket.

    I was mostly amused that it seemed everyone except my husband was more impatient than I was for the baby to show up. We started getting daily “So, still pregnant?” calls from family members, to which I’d reply “I swear, we WILL call you when he arrives! It’s not like we’re going to call a week later and say “oh, and by the way, the baby was born.” Though I was tempted some days. :)

  77. @Elyse: I actually did have a slight prefernce, mainly based on the fact that I had more experience dealing with one sex and so had a little higher comfort level in terms of what to expect. But there was no way I was going to tell anyone that and then have them making a big deal later of “Oh, didn’t you know your mom always wanted a (other sex)” if it turned out to be the other sex. That and the fact that I really didn’t care, I just had a better idea of how the diaper changes worked with one sex. :)

    I was also always amused when everyone I talked to would assume that their preferred baby gender is what I would prefer as well. :)

  78. @Elyse:

    Off topic, but has anyone noticed that Prejean’s position is the same as the President’s? And the Secretary of State’s?

    But somehow she’s the ditz because she’s got the guts to say it out loud? Stupid woman, speaking her mind, what was she thinking? Everybody pile on, show her that “seen and not heard” is what a woman should be. Get rid of her like that uppity Palin skank.

    What message are you sending your kids? Have the right opinion or shutthefuckup!

    Which is way more important than asking the wrong question of a pregnant woman. I’m glad I wasn’t so sensitive.

  79. @jansob:”But somehow she’s the ditz because she’s got the guts to say it out loud? ”

    Wow, way to invent an argument out of thin air about one throwaway joke line. Your entire comment seems to be located in the wrong thread on the wrong site in the wrong universe.

  80. Sorry, but I said it was off topic, and this bugs me a lot….this venom toward her seems so hypocritical. Only some women are allowed to speak….which is not what we fought for.

  81. @jansob: Who said she wasn’t allowed to speak? The line was that she was a ditz, not that she shouldn’t be allowed to say what she wants.

    It wasn’t just that your comment was off-topic, it’s that it was complaining about something that no one here said.

  82. [off topic reply] @jansob: I don’t have a problem with Prejean being opposed to gay marriage. That’s her personal belief and so she should not get gay married. I have a problem with the way she said it. She said “I think that I believe…” She THINKS she believes it? She’s not sure? She also said that she believes it because it was the way she was raised. I know that’s true for a lot of people, but it just shows how little people actually think for themselves.
    I’m glad, though. Even though she violated her contract (twice), if they de-crowned her, the anti-gay marriage crowd would turn her into a martyr and rail about the injustice. [/off topic reply]

    Back on topic: Oooh, yes, tell people you’re hoping for a zombie!

  83. Oy. No. No one SAID she couldn’t speak, but she’s been crucified for doing it….while others who are in far more important positions and held in far higher esteem in the progressive community have the same opinion but get a pass.

    Elexina, that’s BS, it’s called softening a statement, and we non-perfect humans do it a lot, especially when they are about to do something they know will have a bad consequence. And others have violated their contract without incident, but vengeful harridans like you are gunning for her.

    Never mind, forget it. I’ll go away.

    Although I’m a skeptic, I’m not perfect and I’m not a hard enough leftist. And if you ask me a dumb question when you see my obviously pregnant belly, I won’t jump down your throat for being insufficiently logical and grammatically correct…..so I obviously don’t belong here.

    And not another dime to SGU.

  84. @jansob: Off topicZ:

    God damn, I’m going to be glad when OUT RIGHT BIGOTRY against gays will be shunned, just like OUT RIGHT BIGOTRY against other minorities is shunned. Why is it a-okay for someone to hold a BIGOTED OPINION, just because that opinion is about someone who is gay? Please.

    She is as welcome to spew her hatred and ignorance and bigotry, but we are JUST as welcome to call her out on it.

    “And not another dime to SGU.”

    What an overreaction. Jesus. Do you throw hissy fits like, every day or something?

  85. Also, the president doesn’t hold her opinion. He has been VERY, VERY vague about his opinions on gay marriage, so as not to piss off the bigots. He has spoken out against DOMA. He is in FAVOR of states making the decision. He also signed the UN Gay Rights Declaration that Bush refused to sign. He has mentioned gays and lesbians (and atheists!) in nearly every speach. He invited Wanda to speak at that conference the other day (she came out officially when Prop8 passed; I am positive her being there was a nod to Obama’s LGBT supporters, especially in the media).

    And lastly, we have been making LEAPS AND BOUNDS in regards to gay marriage. State by state, it’s happening. And guess what? Obama isn’t stopping it. Bush would have been making a HUGE ruckus, and if McCain had won, he and Palin would be making a huge ruckus.

    The fact is, we’ve gotten more done for gay rights in the freakin’ 3 or 4 months Obama has been president than we EVER did during the EIGHT YEARS Bush was president.

    Anyone who says that Obama isn’t for gay rights is short-sighted and not looking at the full picture. If he were to speak completely out FOR gay marriage, he’d get his ass reamed. I suspect he’s keeping quiet so the states can do what the states need to do. If he repealed DOMA before his term was up, I wouldn’t be even a little surprised.

    Sure, it’d be great to have a President that was 100% for gay marriage and open about it, but that right now is not realistic. We can’t get everything we want right now. It’s a slow process trying to win the American people over. Still, we’ve done A LOT more in the last few months than we have in years. This isn’t a bad thing! I’m hoping our next Democratic president can be more open about gay rights. As it is, I’m glad we have a president who clearly isn’t against us, and who is clearly for the states making the decision. This is a good thing.

    Okay, rant done. I’m just tired of Obama getting a bad wrap for this shit.

  86. I have no kids, but I still get the spanking advice. If I see a kid in a store or somewhere, random strangers feel the need to tell me that the other person should just spank their kid. My guess is that they are not brave enough to tell it to the actual child. The sad thing is, usually these children aren’t even being that bad. Usually it’s just loud talking because kids don’t understand volume of voice etiquette enough. Or the kid will ask for something and be refused, and then ask a few more times, but not actually go into a tantrum.

    Once I was in the locker room of a gym, and this girl was telling her mom to brush her hair more gently because it hurt. She wasn’t even crying or yelling. So a lady in my class leaned over and said, “she should just give her a good swat to the butt.” I tried to be polite and ignore her, but this lady wasn’t satisfied. She kept saying it, and I guess she was expecting me to agree with her. I was very tempted to just say, “I don’t believe in hitting children for any reason”, but I was in a class with her and didn’t want it to make it into a big thing.

    Spanking is not a good way to silence children. My mom spanked me a few times, and I would usually just hit her back. Maybe if these people view children as just a minor annoyance, they wouldn’t feel the need to silence them.

  87. Anyway, just wait until you start getting name suggestions. I’ve heard from my sisters-in-law that this is the worst part. I tried very hard not to give them name suggestions, even though I was very tempted.

  88. @catgirl:

    With our first we didn’t tell anyone the name until he was born. Not because I’m smug (as suggested by certain YouTube videos), but because we didn’t want to get input like, “Oh, I got syphilis from a girl with that name” or “That was the name of our pedophile pastor”

    It is fun to straight-faced tell people that you’re going to name them something ridiculous but believable.

    Our last name is Anders, names we’ve told people we were using:

    Salem
    Cory
    Phil
    Alexander
    Randy
    Andy
    Tallab

  89. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t even matter if you have a name picked out already. Everyone still insists on giving you their naming advice. I would think that if you don’t say any name, people will assume you haven’t picked one yet, and that would encourage them to give more naming suggestions.

    P.S. I really like Alexander Anders.

  90. @catgirl:
    To be fair, sometimes people could use a bit of naming advice. I’ve got a friend with the last name of ‘Kisser’. His parents were trying to choose a first name for his new brother, and were trying to choose wisely to save the kid any ridicule (this was in the mid-60’s, fwiw). So, after lots of deliberation, they named the child Richard. They apparently weren’t aware that people named Richard are also called Dick. So, yeah – Dick Kisser. Absolutely true story.

  91. @jansob: So, it’s obvious you don’t know much about the situation you’re whining about, nor was the situation even discussed in this thread prior to your post. So why did you jump in? And why, when your folly is pointed out, do you just run away? Why not stay and explain yourself?

    Also: what do you mean by “not another dime to SGU?” How many dimes have you given to SGU? What’s your full name? I just want to know so I can budget for how much my income is going to decrease. Thanks.

  92. @ I immediately pointed out that the two are not mutually exclusive. That parents don’t have to sacrifice the well being of their newborn in order to have a preference of one over the other.

    !!!!! Seriously!
    Is there way loved ones can wish you well, while avoiding a pompus lecture?

    Skepchick style feminism is quickly becoming the insufferable equivalent of Andrea Dworkin style feminism. Good intentions, drowned by humorless militantism.

    If you have auspergers or some clinical social ineptitude then I apologize. Otherwise I suggest a new hobby.

  93. @drockwood: Dude, most of these comments were not all that serious, and the general feeling was that people like to ask very prsonal questions to pregnant woman and like to make assumptions about how woman want to handle their pregnancy/parenting.

    There was no “humorless militantism.” In fact, it seems like YOU are the one lacking a sense of humor, and jansob doubly so.

  94. I think we can all agree that I have no sense of humor. Right?

    But I’m not sure how to improve my attitude towards women when I am both an insufferable militant humorless feminist AND a humorless anti-feminist who is setting women back at least a century by telling them all to shut the hell up.

    Maybe I need to start by going to Humor University for Unfunny Feminists who Support the Patriarchy.

  95. @ Skepchick style feminism is quickly becoming the insufferable equivalent of Andrea Dworkin style feminism.

    whoops. That’s not what I meant to write at all.

    Skepchick style [skepticism] is quickly becoming the insufferable equivalent of Andrea Dworkin style feminism.

  96. zomg! heavin forbid people get annoyed at other people’s intrusive questions and “suggestions” in regards to their pregnancy! maybe women are just tired of being assumed to not have a mind of their own and unable to make their own decisions on their pregnancy?

    i don’t know HOW many of my pregnant/parent friends complain about how often COMPLETE STRANGERS would come up to them and touch their bellies or make weird remarks/suggestions/opinions about their pregnancy, like they actually had a say.

  97. Wow.

    I just gotta say to everyone that thinks pregnant women should put up with all the niceties being spewed forth.

    They do, mostly.

    But try for a second imagining what it’s like when every fucking interaction you have is based on the bump in your tummy and those peoples preconceived (often literally) notions of what that should mean to you.

    Seriously, those people need a good fucking off sometimes. And until you’ve been there you really don’t understand how rude people are when they try touch you/your kid, or tell you what a porker s/he is.

    I see no reason why a pregnant woman should be more polite than the people they are talking to. But usually they are, so fuck off when they vent a little online among friends.

  98. I take it back. It’s a refreshing change of pace. Usually expecting parents can’t shut up about their lame pregnancy.
    It’s nice to see that you’re as bored about the fetus grow inside of you as the rest of us.

  99. At the risk, nay certainty, of being slapped down, I will say that some people here are ignoring a huge part of human nature. Most people do not realize or think that you are getting comments all day…they only see you once and if they like you, they express the “usual social niceties”. It’s just normal. It may be annoying sometimes, but I’d have found it a lot more negative to snap at everyone whose good-intentioned dumbness I heard.

    To expect everyone to adhere to a rigidly logical and rational approach to every social interaction is nuts. Like it or not, people don’t operate like that…as skeptics should be quite aware.

    In guarded support of Drockwood, I doubt I’d enjoy being around many of you in person, although I get enough neat ideas from this site not to run away. If you’re this prickly and hairtrigger in the real world, I be afraid to say the wrong thing accidentally.

    (when composing nasty replies, don’t let the “Bob” fool you, I’m a girl)

  100. @Elyse: Freakin’ funny for someone with no sense of humor. Phil and Salem almost made me choke on my drink.

    I don’t get the impression anyone here is particularly unpleasant in their response, most of these stories are including something like “I wish I could have (insert witty response here), but I politely held my tongue.” It seems everyone’s in agreement that lashing out at strangers is unjustified (though poking a little fun’s different). You can take indignity with good grace, and still be frustrated that you had to do so. And this is an appropriate place to vent some steam.

    Anyway, a little thicker skin never hurts. If someone responds more rudely than you might like, well, you’ll live.

  101. @Merkuto: Actually I’d say mine was a little heated.

    My bad, should have read it a few time before posting. Could have worked better with one less F-bomb.

    But the question was, what do people say to you that drives you nuts? And sometimes people being nice is irritating, especially when they don’t know what they are talking about. I hate it when people use “words” like irregardless. I rarely correct them but it feels good to talk about it with like minded people.

    Criticizing people for sharing what bugs them on a forum intended for that purpose is silly. That’s what we are talking about!

    Clearly some people are bothered by the stupid things people say to them when they are pregnant, and others are bothered by those pregnant people sharing their frustrations. I don’t see a difference between the two.

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