It’s the one topic guaranteed to clear most men from the room in an instant, and one that is pretty much standard tea-break fodder where I work. Being a teacher, we are mostly female and mostly mothers so its no wonder really that sooner rather than later the conversation turns to childbirth. Before I had the baby (who, incidentally, I have decided shall now be known as ‘The Toddler’ since he has been walking for 8 months now) I would leap into these conversations with gusto. I found it slightly amusing to talk about the way that the surgeon told his assistant to ‘move that bladder out of the way’ and watch the men or the yet-to-be-mothers wince and/ or turn green. I also found it fascinating to listen to other birth stories.
Of course, since The Toddler’s birth, my feelings towards this type of converstation are completely different. When first time pregnant ladies ask me what its like, I tell them no two births are the same and I couldn’t possibly say. Which is true. I only know what my births were like.
These days, I keep rather quiet when the conversation turns to the inevitable. Some times thinking about it all is enough to get the heart racing and the hands clammy. Talking about it? Uh-uh. No way. I’m shaking my head here. It needs to be the right conversation. Someone needs to ask me a specific question, otherwise I am mute. Someone needs to know what happened so that they don’t ask too much of me. It can’t be an idle staff room chat; it needs to be a proper, box of tissues sob fest sometimes. Its just not polite otherwise. People don’t want to know about the terror or the machines and wires whilst they’re tucking into digestives and sipping hot tea.
When the conversation turns to childbirth, my defences kick in. I have certain phrases I can repeat parrot fashion, or tactics such as leaving the room or pretending not to listen. It works. I’m actually a lot better than I used to be. Honestly. Maybe one day, when the conversation turns to childbirth, I might be able to join in… until then, I’m keeping mum.