You know those standoffish New Yorkers that everyone talks about? Apparently they don’t exist in the Brooklyn ‘hood I live in, because everyone seems to feel completely comfortable chatting me up about my
large giant baby bump, from the stranger on the street (“That baby’s gonna come ouuuut!”) to the parent I barely know at daycare (“You must be having a BIG baby!!”). And unless it’s Sari, who tells me I look beautiful every time she sees me; Julie, who tells me I’m a hot sexy b*tch, the same thing she says when I’m NOT pregnant; or another one of my fabulous friends talking I can pretty much count on hearing something that’s shockingly rude, not unbelievably sweet.
The latest weirdness happened last Sunday. My friends and I were meeting that night for dinner without the kids — a soul-lifting rarity for us busy moms — and I decided to treat myself to a new pair of Italian sandals. I live in Toms during the week (I work from home and they’re the perfect mom shoe for those post-daycare playground trips), and I wanted pretty shoes for my night out. I had been admiring a pair of sandals in the window of a boutique down the street and decided to splurge.
I wandered into the place, asked about the sandals I’d been coveting, and they had my size! My feet aren’t swollen (pure luck at this point), so the shoes looked great, too (unlike, let’s say, 3/4 of the clothes hanging in my closet right now). As I was standing in front of the mirror admiring the shoes from every angle a very pregnant woman sitting nearby struck up a convo:
Her: When are you due?
Me: August 8. You?
Me: You’re so lucky! I couldn’t deal if I thought I had to go a minute longer than the 8th. The end is brutal.
Her: Wait, how do you know your baby will be born then? What’s your birth plan?
Me: <Er, what? My birth plan?> Oh, a scheduled C!
Her: <Friendly expression gets icy> So you don’t think you can push the baby out naturally?
Annnnd now I gotta end this fast…a hostile-looking stranger is talking to me about pushing babies out in the middle of a freakin’ shoe store.
Me: Oh it’s my second baby. The first was a C, so I’ve decided to go the same route this time! Um, good luck Tuesday!
I booked it to the cash register feeling my cheeks burn.
Salesperson: Did I just hear that you’re having a C-Section?
<Consider dropping the shoes and running…but those shoes! I have to have them. Suck it up, Heather. Ignore this chick. Just get the shoes and get out.>
I had already shared more than I wanted to. Blame it on my day job as a parenting editor and hold-nothing-back blogger. (I do have limits though; I didn’t go into the full story of why I was having a C-Section, despite feeling defensive.) But at this point I was done talking. Besides, why should I have to justify myself to a stranger in a shoe store? Or anyone for that matter?
A lot of people have acted like I’m the anti-Christ for having a scheduled C-Section, even though it’s absolutely medically necessary. The implication (or actual response) is always that I should at least try to have a VBAC, even though it’s strongly not recommended for my personal situation. And, generally, I just blow off the critics. After my housekeeper grilled me for five minutes about why I was having a C-Section (She asked, OK, this time I didn’t just volunteer my “birth plan!”) I finally gave up — the language barrier was just too much. I joked brightly “I’m lazy!” (an answer she finally seemed to understand and was maybe already thinking anyway) and happily moved on with my day.
But — and maybe it’s just the hormones — I’m getting annoyed. I can’t figure out why people care how I give birth. I mean, I couldn’t care less how anyone else delivers her baby. I couldn’t! My philosophy is get the baby out safely. If that can happen through a natural birth, a medicated birth, a C-Section — whatever — then go for it, sister! Do what works for you. Feel free to tell me all about your 50+-hour labor, pushing for four hours, or your water breaking in a taxi, I’ll happily listen to your story. And, whatever you went through, I’ll feel amazed. Because giving birth is amazing! But, hey, if you ask me details about my delivery and I tell you honestly that I’m having a C-Section, please give me the same judgment-free courtesy, OK? Or at least don’t say anything…
Why are so many of us moms still being judged about how we have our babies? And, for the record, I’m not just saying C-Section mamas get judged; I’m positive that most moms out there have received at least one snarky comment about how they’ve chosen to give birth at one time or another…and it’s not cool.