At my thirty-first birthday party a couple weeks ago, one of my pregnant friends, Megan, did something truly shocking post-dinner: she actually joined us for the after-party at the bar. My surprise wasn’t due to her tossing back white Zins like Franzia was going out of business (she wasn’t, for the record). It was the fact that she made such an effort to maintain some semblance of her previously childless life when so many of my other friends have dropped off the face of the earth after becoming pregnant.
In some ways, I don’t blame them. Once you turn thirty, it becomes embarrassingly exhausting to pretend you want to rage at the bars till they turn the lights on. But trying to do it with morning-turned-all-day-sickness, back pain and swollen ankles…while SOBER?! No thanks. Needless to say, I was impressed as Megan hung in there through a mortgage payment’s worth of Bud Light for the rest of us and a few overly-emotional shufflepuck games.
Little did I know I’d come to regret including a photo of her in my Facebook album the next day. Mere moments after posting it, I was getting pinged left and right with messages that people I’d never met were commenting like mad on my album. I began to wonder if I’d unwittingly captured a wardrobe malfunction and it’d gone viral.
But no. I’d stumbled into one of my biggest pet peeves: the absolute AVALANCHE of compliments bestowed upon pregnant women when their photo appears on Facebook. Every woman Megan had ever met began leaving comments on the one photo she appears in. You know the ones I’m talking about. Your run-of-the-mill “you look beautiful!”, “you’re glowing!” and my favorite, “Look at you, pregnant lady!” Yup, she’s pregnant. You nailed it. And by the way, if you have to continually comment on how lovely she is now, what did she look like before? A cow?
And at the risk of sounding like a petulant child…it was MY birthday! Why was it hijacked by a belly? Why is the fact that someone was pregnant the most fascinating, comment-worthy part of that night? Are the rest of us that uninteresting and unphotogenic?
Well alright, I realize that I DO sound like ridiculous child. Likely because it has activated within me some simmering junior high-esque sentiment that if I don’t have a baby, no one will ever lavish that kind of attention on me. (Boy, I didn’t have to dive deep into the subconscious to retrieve that one.) I know this is just one of a million ways that society exalts pregnancy and the child-bearing process, so I’m not sure why this one’s got me so fired up. Maybe I’m just a grumpy thirty-one year-old now.
Am I the only one who’s being driven insane by this?
Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at www.MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.
It does seem as though people become obsessed with a woman who is pregnant (or is holding a baby) and the rest of us get left in the dust sometimes. I think the main reason is that it’s easy to have something to say to someone who is pregnant. Does that make sense? I mean, you look the same today as you did yesterday, so no reason to comment on how beautiful you are. People may have to think about what to say to you, but for someone who is pregnant, it’s easy to say, “You look great, how are you feeling, what a cute belly, when are you due, what are you having,” etc, etc, etc. And I do think that most 30-something mothers are uncomfortable with those of us 30-somethings who are childfree. I truly believe that many other 30-something mothers feel sorry for me, but it’s possible that’s in my head. LOL However, they definitely do not understand my decision, but they do understand a pregnant belly. Sadly, I think it’s true that society will probably never “lavish that kind of attention” on you. Just go ahead and do what Carrie Bradshaw did and register for a “I’m not having a baby” present. And then do what Samantha did and throw yourself a, “I’m not having a baby shower!” 😀 I would LOVE to do that, but I’m afraid no one would show up…maybe one day all of us childfree bloggers will have to meet somewhere in the middle and have a party for ourselves!!!
I love this idea! We need to plan a giant “We’re all not having babies!” shower and register for wonderful things like excursions on exotic trips. Those SITC ladies really knew what they were doing.
no i don’t think anyone will ever lavish that kind of attention on me, either. And it does make me sad and angry sometimes.
I try to remember that they get that attention for a span of a few months (once pregnancy is visible but before they’re all swollen up ;-), and then again as long as the baby is little and cute). And that maybe twice should they have a second.
After that all the attention they get is when the kid is driving everybody else in the supermarket crazy because he wants something he doesn’t get, or when the little girl has just thrown a temper tantrum in the middle of a high-class restaurant :-).
A very good point to remember, indeed! I’m sure they’re yearning to shrink back into the wallpaper at those moments.
Just to look briefly on the bright side….How about getting that sort of attention: i.e. “Oh my what a cute belly?” or “When are you due?”…. When you are just bloated or plain old overweight and wearing the wrong type of shirt of dress. 🙂 Could be worst!!
Had to say that because of course it has happened to me. YIKES!!!
Go figure that the only time I’d get that sort of attention would be when I certainly didn’t want it!
Happened to me as well – I burned the outfit I was wearing that day. 🙂
I totally agree with you. During my single years I happily participated in bridal and baby showers, thinking how much fun it would be when I got to be the guest of honor. Then we got engaged on October 11th, and married on January 11th, and none of my family or friends gave me a shower. Some people said it was too short of a time between, others said there are too many holidays during that time, plus the risk of bad weather. Even though I tried to act nonchalant about it, that was really hurtful to me. Part of me then started thinking about a baby shower some day, but then I was never able to get pregnant. But even more than a “not having a baby shower”, I want a “non-maternity leave”!!! I realize it is not a vacation for a new mother, but I feel like the universe owes me some sort of compensation for the loss of my childhood dream of motherhood.
That’s just what i did, i got my employer to give me a three month sabbatical. I managed that by being really, really well prepared and putting pressure on of the kind of “I’m exhausted, i can’t do this anymore” so they were scared i would burn out and they are pretty lost without me.
This was true – i was not well physically and emotionally – the latter due to splitting up with my ex and grieving over not being able to conceive. But of course, though surely i didn’t tell anyone, this was coupled with my feeling that if i had to grieve so much, then at least i wanted what mothers got – a long leave from work. And i got it 🙂
If you see any possibility, do it!
Wow, that’s amazing! What a great idea, and good for you for having the guts to ask because of course, you deserve it. If other women get multiple opportunities to take paid time off to deal with life events (i.e., having a baby), so should you.
No, you’re not the only one! I’m the only infertile in a family of bunny rabbits – I have 12 neices and nephews. And more to come. I definitely came to the unwelcome conclusion, several years ago, that I will never be “worthy” of that much attention and will never get it. Most of the time I feel like the wallflower in the midst of everyone else’s kids, as the parents and in-laws are fawning over the children and barely notice me at all. The only way I can have an actual conversation with anyone is if I call them on the phone. If kids are around, I might as well not even be there. But, I bite the bullet and play with the kids, and luckily my personality type is one that doesn’t like to be the center of attention anyway, but it still stings. But if it was my birthday that got hijacked by a pregnant lady, I would be pissed!
At least it sounds like you have actual conversations on the phone. For some of my friends with kids, talking to them on the phone is exhausting because when they say something, half the time it’s to the kid in the background, not me, and I have to figure out if the conversation is still going on!
Well, I can talk on the phone to people when the kids are NOT around LOL! I HATE talking on the phone to people with the kids screaming/interrupting/etc. in the background!
I totally agree its annoying. And it’s insensitive to you. But most people in the world are insensitive about infertility. There is a way on facebook to block someone’s comments without full on defriending — I figured out how to do that a few days ago. You should do that right away, and continue celebrating your birthday.
Thanks Maria – I’m not actually infertile (that I know of), I’m just undecided on the whole kids issue and get a little weary at how baby-obsessed our culture is!
It’s exhausting trying to hide from all these things isn’t it? Especially when it was actually YOUR day! While giving birth and being pregnant must be a spectacular thing, why do we idolize it?
I still like the article on The Onion that was called “The Miracle of Birth Occurs for the 6 Billionth Time” or something like that. So true!
I do relate to a little bit of disappointment that as a non-mother (who also lacks interest in the institution of marriage) no matter what I achieve in my life, there is actually NOTHING I can do that will result in as much celebration as a wedding or a baby.
It would be interesting to compare the number of fb comments relating to a pregnancy versus, say, the winning of a Nobel Prize…
Either way, it sounds like your birthday got slightly hijacked – I hope it was a happy one though 🙂
Oh Olivia, you’re getting the double-whammy of no-baby, no-wedding. It angers me to think how much money I’m going to spend on baby showers in my lifetime, unrequited – it must be even worse to throw the weddings in there. But at least with a wedding, there’s free dinner and an open bar!!!