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Home: The Toast

Previous Loco Parentis columns can be found here.

It’s better if I just get that on the table right away. The truth is, I really, really don’t care about birth. I’m not interested in the details of my own birth, I don’t want to talk about my son’s birth, or my second kid’s upcoming birth, and I definitely don’t want to spend any of my time pretending to listen to the details of someone else’s birth. I just straight up Do. Not. Care.

Maybe I should be more surprised by this. In general, I’m very interested in women’s health issues. I think my problem in talking about birth is two-fold.

First, I don’t like how people assume that anyone who’s ever had a baby is just dying to discuss childbirth. I don’t want to hear your “birth story.” I don’t want to tell you mine. I actually feel quite protective over the details of my son’s entrance into the world. To me, it felt like a private event. Invite-only. I am not interested in giving you the recap.

Just because I’ve had a baby does not mean I want to talk about “placentas” or “cord blood” or “water birth.” For me, giving birth to my son was just a means to an end. It was, ultimately, the only way to get him out. It was a biological necessity. You know what else is a biological necessity? Eating. But just because I spend a lot of time eating doesn’t mean I want you to engage me in a conversation about “salivary amylase,” “bile juice” or “feces.” I understand that the process is an important one, but I’ll pass on the details. Thanks.

The second reason I avoid conversations about birth is that we’ve turned it into a competitive sport, and I really don’t like that. More and more I feel like there are right and wrong ways to give birth. And these are moving targets. Depending on who you’re talking to, the right way to give birth might be at home, unmedicated and standing up. Or the right way might be in a hospital with a full support team ready and waiting. Sometimes pain medication is right. Sometimes it’s wrong. There are judgments about vaginal births, cesarean sections, fluids, cord-cutting, skin-to-skin time, antibiotics, episiotomies, the number of people in the hospital room/house/bathtub. Before I’d even given birth to my older child, I was so sick of all the opinions and judgments it seemed best to just keep the whole thing to myself.

I don’t mind sharing my experience with a mom-to-be who is honestly looking for information and wants to hear about a wide variety of experiences to help her prepare and make her own decisions. But this kind of open-minded discussion sometimes seems like the exception, and not the rule.

Even if that changes, though, I don’t think I’ll ever be up for hearing the word “placenta” while I’m eating.

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Aubrey Hirsch is the author of Why We Never Talk About Sugar. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Rumpus, Brain, Child Magazine and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter: @aubreyhirsch.

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