Have you ever been in a situation where you are the minority in the crowd? As a result, you feel uncomfortable and get a little anxious? Take, for example, a dinner party where all the other couples at the table are pregnant, and your coupling (made up of your partner and yourself of course) are not (pregnant). Awkward.
It’s purely awkward because all couples with child tend to only talk about babies and all things baby-related. Snippets of the conversation may go like this:
“Where do you shop for your fancy maternity dresses?”
“Oh man, the nausea is extreme.”
“Have you planned your baby shower?”
“Do you know what you’re having?”
“I feel like a whale”. (Okay, I’ve taken a bit of poetic licence for this one.)
“Can’t wait till the baby comes along with all those sleepless nights.” (Chuckles) (As in, they chuckle whilst I hide a groan in my drink).
“I’ve been gyming and going for weekly yoga and pilates. Need to stay fit and keep off the weight as much as possible”.
“Oh, I swim.”
“Have you been to those hypnobirthing classes?”
“Doesn’t my little cherub look just like his daddy in this 4D scan?”.
“Would you opt for a caesarean? I think it’s so much easier.”
“OMG, my obstetrician is so attractive!”
“You have to book yourself in at the Portland; the scones are to die for”.
“We fell pregnant by accident and I had my first when I was 40. I was so thrilled when my doctor announced that I have eggs of a spring chicken”.
Blah. Blah. Blah. And the conversation continues. Even the masculine halves of the couples interject and lend in to the conversations.
Two words: baby obsession. It’s as if once you fall pregnant, all you can talk about is baby. Suddenly, you seem to lose your identity as an individual and only promote yourself as a mother. Normal, adult conversations give way to baby talk.
I guess you can tell that we have been ‘stuck’ in such a situation before – my imagination does not reach such heights on its own. The dinner seemed to drag on for about 9 months. The fact that the others knew about our struggle to conceive didn’t seem to alter the topic of conversation, because – I suppose – that is what their new baby-brain has wired them to do henceforth (that is, talk about baby only).
My husband has a knack for cheering me up when I’m down and in this case, there was no exception. He explained, “These pregnant couples probably had nothing else in common to discuss and so that’s why they talked baby all evening”. In my non-pregnant brain, I interpreted his explanation as, “They are boring, so I wouldn’t have been able to have a suitable conversation with them anyway”. Anyway, never again. Lesson learned.
(Have you ever wondered how the term pregnancy and all its affiliations are so loosely used to add importance to every situation, to make a complaint more profound, to bestow attention to an already inflated ego and to add weight to every stand? If so, I discussed just this is a previous post here.)
Through observation when we are out and about, the one topic of discussion that comes up most is the lack of sleep caused by newborns. Don’t get me wrong; lack of sleep can be detrimental to your productivity (whatever that is). But, the first obvious trait of a newborn is that they wake up every few hours. To feed. To poop. To cry. Everybody knows that. You don’t have to be a parent to register that in your head. Yet, when parents talk about it, it’s as if they never knew such a thing exists (“Baby or the witching hour?” – I hear you ask).
Newsflash to parents: if you are pregnant and get to full term, you will result in a baby. If you result in a baby, be sure to ‘budget’ for sleepless nights.
It’s tragic, but most people with children tend to complain about life as parents. Homo Sapiens have been reproducing for over thousands of years. Our ancestry dates back to many generations. Many of us have lived in the same era as our great-grandparents. Yet, our generation feels that being a parent is a novel idea and nobody else can understand their position. This got me thinking … are we made up of a society of serial complainers? The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced. I voiced my thoughts to a friend who has a baby but has never once complained to me about parenthood. I asked this friend why is it that they never feel the need to complain like the others? This friend simply pointed out that their baby sleeps fairly well and eats well most of the time. Plus, they have help with their cooking and cleaning. This enables them to not be totally exhausted. Fair point(s).
Okay, let’s get back to understanding all those who complain regardless. My friend’s reasoning strongly supports the age-old saying about ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. This prompted me to conduct a little research of my own. I listed down names of all the couples (parents in my generation) who I regularly associate with and then collected data based on their habits. I found that an astonishing 91% of these people have at least some form of help (e.g., nanny, house help, grandparents, night nurses – the new rage, etc.) Of these, only 20% are purely grateful for their situation and have never complained (to me at least); 30% seem to complain at every given chance (or whenever anyone is prepared to listen to them), and mainly discuss sleep deprivation; and the rest (50%) have expressed the occasional ‘obligatory’ complaints, but generally tend to ‘get on with it’.
Conclusion: we are most definitely a society comprised of serial complainers. It is not only the ones who have presumably conceived easily that complain (you could almost forgive their naivety); even those that had some difficulty in conceiving tend to have complaints.
I can completely understand how difficult it can be for parents when a child is unwell and does not sleep or rest properly. But if the reason is because that’s what babies do (poop, eat, [lack of] sleep and cry), then zip it.
I’ll have you know that for all the lousy ‘lack-of-sleep’ complaints you make, there are thousands of infertile couples who would gladly be in your position and would fully ‘embrace’ the night-time episodes of parenthood.
Looking around in today’s world (well, at least a world based on most of the people who I’m associated with), the ‘village’ has been replaced by ‘household names’, such as nannies, house help and grandparents. The ‘enjoyment’ in bringing up children has been replaced by strict regimens, timetables and inflexibility.
With all the obsession over babies, having babies, pregnant with babies, nursery decoration, millions of toys, schools and everything else baby-related, adults tend to forget their own individuality and identity. I think that we have already established this point. Yet, what is also frustrating is that somehow parenthood makes you forget all that you had, including the people who were around you prior to babies. Children are priceless; but so are the relationships that we have built and nurtured over the years, pre-kids.
If you recall in my last post, I wrote about how we had no plan for 2019 other than deciding if we should (could?) go for another round of IVF. Well, one Saturday night a few weeks ago, we got the clarity we needed. We both (my husband I) decided that we would not settle for ‘life without children’ and are willing to go the ‘whole hog’ to having our baby (babies). This means that we are willing to go through more IVF, (if that fails) donor treatments and (if that fails) ultimately, adoption to achieving what we desire most. Because we are whole as a couple, but incomplete as a family. Because we are damn good people with a lot of love to give. And because we will make damn good parents.
And once we become parents, I’m going to try my damn hardest not to forget who I am and the relationships I have nurtured; the two things I’m most wary of after witnessing it around me. Affirmations completed.