Saturday, July 2, 2011

Reality bites, but so do social mores!

Sorry, Batman. I've been crappy about keeping up with this for the last few weeks. I have excuses! Here they are! (I'm even going to make each one a separate post for the sake of bucking brevity and making myself feel like I'm a more dedicated documentary blogger.)

Excuse #1: Secrecy. Only a handful of people are aware of the fact that you currently exist (a point that will be moot by the time anyone is reading this, since I'll be retroactively posting a handful of posts, most notably including the one where I talk about you, y'know, existing), and we're being hellafied secretive. Why? Well, here's something terrifying that I didn't know. Apparently everyone has known since 1988 that nearly one third of pregnancies end in miscarriage. No one told me that! All the pregnancy books with pastel pink and blue baby junk on them say NOTHING about the fact that - even up to today - about one out of four women has a miscarriage, and about one out of three conceptions do not end with a baby. Doesn't that seem like something everyone should know? Am I the only one who didn't? SHOULD I REALLY BE THIS SHOCKED AND IRATE, OR AM I JUST OVERUSING UPPERCASE LETTERS NOW?!?!

Your very wise Aunt Anna initially informed me of this statistic, and my extensive (*cough*cough*Google*cough*) research verifies the fact that for some reason no one talks about an extremely common, natural occurrence. Is it shame? A fear of being judged for somehow failing reproductively? A need to grieve privately? I appreciate that these and doubtlessly others that I haven't even thought of are entirely valid personal reasons, but personally, I don't really get it. Most miscarriages happen because the zygote or fetus is in some way flawed (genetically or otherwise), so the child wouldn't likely survive anyhow. Doesn't that make a miscarriage a good thing in that case? I'm sure that comment has just earned me a pile of irate enemies, but I believe strongly in nature, and if nature wants something to happen, you just try to stop it. Better to let nature make us her bitches...again.

SO...we've not been widely circulating the fact that you are more than a hypothetical specifically because society seems incapable of dealing with it if a pregnancy goes wrong. That's sad, but I do appreciate how horrific it would be to need to tell, oh, say, my Bubbe that her first great-grandchild was actually just a benign cluster of cells and not the beginnings of a human being she would love. It would also definitely suck to need to explain to all my students and coworkers in September that my baby bump isn't showing alarm? Just kidding?

Now we get to some of the potential penalties of sharing pregnancies early on. (Things get nasty from here on in, so here's hoping, Batman, that things turn around a bit before any of this becomes relevant to you.) I'm truly lucky to work in a career field that is pretty well protected by unions and all sorts of other fancy rigamarole, and in a place where that rigamarole holds water, but boy howdy, do pregnant women get a raw deal most of the time. (Pregnant teachers get a whole other bum rap from students that I'm sure I'll have a blast dealing with in the Fall, but we're not thinking about that yet.) There is a scary amount of discrimination against pregnant women in many workplaces, and even in a non-work setting, there are stigma galore.

The stereotyping is, frankly, hysterical. I'm almost edgy to start looking noticeably pregnant because people might worry that I'll fly off the handle sobbing if I see a picture of a sad baby tiger, or start raging wildly if someone takes the last loaf of bread before I get to it. Or that I'll attempt to eat everything in sight, especially if it's pickles (which yes, living the stereotype, I have been all about, but I think that's a hydration issue). Or that I'll space out while driving because of my "baby brain" and cause a fifteen car pile up. Or that I will become massively unproductive because I'll need to run off and pee all the time. Or that all I'll ever, EVER talk or think about will be babies babies babies. Yeah. Okay. Let's think about how many people do all those things - all the time - with no excuse, then consider how fair it is to impose those expectations on all pregnant women.

So...that's one hefty, overloaded reason not to have shouted your growth from random cells to a vaguely baby-shaped assemblage from the mountaintops. Also, yelling "this random group of cells has combined to create a vaguely baby-shaped assemblage!" would have been really unwieldy. Coming up next, excuse number two, which I lovingly call, "The Suck."

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