Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Well-Intentioned People April 3, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

“Congratulations!”

I cocked my head in the universal gesture for Huh?

“I see you’re here for your first prenatal visit!”

“Um…no. Pretty sure I’m not.”

“Yes, it says so in the computer.”

“Pretty sure your computer is wrong.”

I’ve joked for years that my life is like a sit-com, and this vignette was a prime example. What started out as a routine annual physical (weight, blood pressure, checking my heart and lungs) had turned into a farce because someone at a call center had checked a wrong box and the receptionist felt compelled to announce it to the waiting room.

I easily could have turned this into a melodrama. I could have dashed into the ladies room, dissolved into a puddle of self-pity, and called my sister to wail about the unfairness of life, the cruelties of the universe. But there was no need to over-react. The receptionist wasn’t trying to hurt me; she was misinformed (not her fault) and she thought I had something to celebrate. Her intentions were kind, she was reaching out to me, and I’m sure she was gearing up to share her experience of her first prenatal visit when she was pregnant with the first of her three grown kids.

Under other circumstances, it could have been a lovely moment. Or it could have been an awful moment. I chose to make it an absurdly funny moment. Once we cleared up the reason for my appointment, I stepped outside and called a close girlfriend who is also childfree. “You are not going to believe this…my life is a freakshow!” I told her what happened, and together we howled with laughter. Then we talked about how far we both have come on our journeys from disappointed mama-wanna-bes to mostly-contented childfree women.

We’ve all heard our share of insensitive comments, and we know well-intentioned but ill-timed comments can be even more hurtful. I’d like to suggest that we humans generally have the best intentions to be kind to one another, and it’s my intention to try to see this good in others as often as possible.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She believes laughter truly is the best medicine.

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8 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Well-Intentioned People”

  1. I loved this. I definitely agree that whenever there’s an opportunity to take any other path than offence, we should try our best to go that way. A beautiful post to read.

  2. Kathleen Says:

    This is a scream! Weren’t you looking for Ashton Kutcher?
    And congratulations are in order. It didn’t destroy your day, (or hers) 🙂

  3. IrisD Says:

    I once received a call from my ob/gyn office reminding me of my appointmne with a midwife. :/ I’m glad you were able to laugh about it!!

  4. Maria Says:

    After 5 years of trying, I found out I was pregnant and made an appt to see my dr. Before I could get to that appt, I started bleeding and the doctor saw me 2 days before my scheduled apptment. The dr confirmed I had a miscarriage, and told me to come back in 2 days on my regular appt. When I showed up, the receptionist said, “oh, congratulations! this is your first prenatal visit, how are you feeling?” I said, I was here 2 days ago, read my chart. She said, yes, it says right here, it’s your first prenatal visit, congratulations! I said, no, read it again, I was here 2 days ago. Then she looked again and said, “oh.” And walked away. Not even an apology. I couldn’t give her a pass that day, but I wasn’t nasty — just cold. Anyway, thank you for sharing and letting me share.

    • Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

      Oh my goodness, Maria, that’s horrible! I knew there could be a darker side to this story, and I am so sorry for your loss and for this experience.

  5. Well Done you.
    Yes I know that enthusiastic nurse/receptionist/midwife is all very well intended but still doesn’t stop me wanting to rip her head off! FAKE SMILE ALERT FAKE SMILE ALERT!

  6. Paulette Says:

    Why do people say congratulations for a pregnancy anyway? (I’m bitter). So many young people without a plan, sleep around, don’t know who the father of the baby is – a baby that was not longed for, planned for and dare I say not “wanted” the way we want a baby. Is that a congratualatory event? Really? Would it not be more appropriate to place congratulations in those circumstances if the activity does not produce a pregnancy????


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