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Relatives' offensive pregnancy theories deserve reasoned response

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Offensive pregnancy theories deserve a reasoned response

Wanting to throat-punch SIL: It's been a pretty crappy year in general for my husband and me — one of the main crappy things being three consecutive miscarriages, which now have us going to doctors and doing embarrassing things.

My sister-in-law (husband's sis) just had a baby in January. Great, wonderful, we're so happy to have a cute little niece. However, "Mary" also has some rather particular views on the child-carrying/birthing process, thanks to her easy-shmeasy, problem-free pregnancy and delivery. Essentially, she thinks there's no reason to ever see a doctor for anything related to pregnancy and babies, and that women should just pray, eat healthy and trust their bodies and all will work out. It's a really condescending, high-and-mighty attitude that's hard to explain.

She knows about one of our losses, but not all three, and she likes to talk about pregnancy and childbirth. A lot. As does her husband (who now also fancies himself an expert). So this subject will come up a lot, and I need some help quelling my inner desire to throat-punch them when they go on and on. I know it's unfair to expect them to know about something they don't know about, but their general opinions toward this subject make me want to scream.

Carolyn: Wait a minute — there's nothing unfair about expecting them to have a clue that their one experience doesn't apply categorically to the experience of every other person on earth. We expect toddlers to be that egocentric, not adults.

Next time they start blathering on, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, as calmly as you can manage, that it's wonderful they had such a great childbirth experience — but that people with infertility, or who have lost a child or wife in childbirth might find their views offensive, since they're suggesting these are the victims' fault.

Since they'll likely just reiterate their views, prep yourself by reading Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy. Said history includes some shocking bits on how the tail of fashion has wagged the childbirth dog — not just back in the day, but even now. (Be warned: The book describes many a birth gone wrong.) Suggest they read it, too, since they wouldn't want to build a worldview on one pregnancy, right?

I suggest this despite having little hope that calm reasoning will get you anywhere with these relatives. But it will give you a clear and concise precursor to your saying, next time, "I'd prefer we talk about something else. How about those Caps?"

It sounds as if you're predisposed to just staying quiet through their blather, and I can understand why. But what they're saying is offensive, no different from other categories of offense where people don't think twice about speaking up. So do speak up, please.

Relatives' offensive pregnancy theories deserve reasoned response 04/02/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 4:30am]
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