This blows my mind.
I have been very closed with pretty much everything related to my pregnancy; symptoms, experiences, feelings, plans… all of it. And I think it was an un/conscious form of self protection. I didn’t need the barrage of competing and contradictory “must-know” tidbits that would “certainly” impede my life or my child’s.
Alas I am at the stage of my pregnancy where it is decently obvious. Which means people feel an unspoken (and unwanted) right to share their opinions with me about all things pregnancy, parenting and child related.
That is one thing. I think it is sweet, albeit slightly annoying, condescending and highly contradictory at times. In fact, at work I now have an “advice book” for all of my close colleagues to write down any and all advice that they wish. This means that the advice giver can record it, and I don’t have to remember it (baby brain is a thing!). It also means that it has to be valuable enough for the advice giver to warrant the exchange of energy that is involved with the documenting their suggests of wisdom gold. A choice that they alone can make. It means that I am not constantly interrupted in my daily process as I simply try and do my job – the work I am paid to do. This also slows the “I heard from a friend whose read on Facebook about an aunty who… ” and puts the emphasis back onto “I found this personally meaningful and I want to share it with you”.
What is super-not-sweet is the people that feel the need or right to share opinions about defining characteristics of my child. My unborn child. Who has no idea of the social constructs of manners and people-pleasing. Who has no idea of shame or ‘naughty-ness’. No external standards to meet or live up to, no knowledge of societal pressure that define self worth. My child is just doing it’s own thing. Biologically. Physiologically. My child is doing what she wired to do. Grow, mostly. Some practice sucking. A bit of hiccuping. And a wiggle, stretch and bounce or two.
She is not aware of your ‘need’ for this or that from her. And she certainly isn’t purposefully behaving in a way that makes your job or mine, harder. So can we stop with the chastising?!
My first experience was with a sonographer during a private ultrasound. I say private in that, it was not medically necessary. My husband and I acknowledging that this is possibly/probably(?) our only pregnancy, wanted to honour this process and experience – so we sort out a company that specialises in ultrasound pictures for the sake of it.
My placenta is anterior (on the front wall -> on my belly), which makes ultrasounds slightly harder. It just so happened that on this day, which was exactly the same as every previous day for my baby… she was lying across my belly. She was transverse. What that meant was that she was effectively hidden by the placenta. Her face was buried behind the placenta and her hand was there for added measure.
She has probably been like that hundreds of times before, and will probably be like that a hundred times again. Well, maybe not, she’s growing and I don’t know if she’ll fit… but you get my point.
Long story short: it was practically impossible to get a nice shot of her face. Despite the stretches and movements I did to encourage her out of her position.
The sonographer kept calling her a ‘madame’. As in, that she was purposefully hiding, doing things her own way, being a pain. Are you kidding?! She’s doing her thing. Happily (judging on the heart rate etc). This has nothing to do with anything.
The second time was with my obstetrician. My obstetrician is a really good guy. I really like him. He has a great sense of humour, and I think he is one of the most inclusive and respectful professionals I have ever encountered. He genuinely loves that he works with babies and their mums and I think that is beautiful! And I am still uncomfortable about what transpired.
He is mindful (as in, not overly concerned right *now* but is watching) that she is footling breech. In his usual sense of humour he was saying that she is stubborn, determined and strong willed (and a list on ongoing adjectives – I zoned out because I was internally freaking out about the dreaded “breech” position, and doing everything I could to calm myself down).
I replied that that is good, and just how I want her.
To which he replied, wait for another 15 years and see what you say about that.
Still with a big laugh.
And I genuinely don’t think there was any malice in what he said. There wasn’t even any anger or baggage to his words. I think for him it was genuine humour.
But I still felt uncomfortable!
This is not an indication of who she is, or her developing personality. This is not demonstrating her likes, dislikes, behaviours and preferences.
And even if it was… Who says that being private is a bad thing? Who says that being determined and stubborn is a bad thing? Who says that hiding or not-conforming or whatever other labels are placed on her are bad? Even if this was a choice on her part, a calculated choice to actively avoid the unnecessary ultrasound picture, or to be in the incorrect position… (it wasn’t) … even if it was a calculated choice, why is someone (particularly a girl) meeting a need (such as privacy) seen as a bad thing? Why is it a bad thing that her ability to meet her needs must be second to the needs of those around her? Why must she bend to others? Why must she bend to external expectations of which she has no comprehension or even experience with?
Yes, I get that breech isn’t the best – hence the internal freakout.
But for me, there is a massive difference in acknowledging that she is breech or hiding behind the placenta, and the difficulties that places on the immediate present / foreseeable future… and assigning characteristic traits to a new human being without any defence against such chastising or labels.
Baby, I love you.
You are perfect.
And perfectly doing your own thing.
If you could move from breech, at some point between now and delivery, that would be great.
I love you.
Whatever position you are in.
Whatever you are doing.
Whatever personality traits you demonstrate.
Whatever preferences, behaviours or needs you have.
You are perfect.
I love you, unconditionally.