I’m still amazed by what people feel inclined to – let’s call it ‘share’ – when they discover I’m pregnant.
I’ve had the stranger who, after asking how far gone I was, told me she had a miscarriage at that stage. The efficacy of this bonding strategem is limited by one of the parties battling the near-uncontrollable urge to reach into the adjacent deep-freeze, seize a family-size pack of frozen cauliflower and apply it forcefully to her face.
Then there are those who elevate the horror to a whole new level upon finding out you also have a dog, when they remember their sister’s neighbour’s plumber who read an article in an old Woman’s Weekly about a family corgi who gnawed a baby’s face off. The denoument of this variation of story – because I’ve heard at least two versions of it – is dramatic, along the lines of: “No warning- this dog was just the gentlest, most placid- used to bath the kid- but now the baby, IT HAS NO FACE!”
I’m not sure what appals me more: the poor, faceless baby; the faithful family pet being euthanised; or the gross irresponsibility of parents who a) leave their dog unsupervised with their child and b) haven’t trained their baby not to eat out of the dog’s bowl.
Last week there was the real estate agent who, upon showing us an old-fashioned water burner, felt compelled to inform us how many babies used to fall into them and DIE. Tiny, unformed lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye. Happened all the time, apparently. She knew of at least one soft-boiled baby.
I’m not sure what the appropriate response to these social gambits are. How about, “Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I go into my bathroom and lock the door and cut myself with a sawn-off shampoo bottle. Then I curl up on the floor and cry uncontrollably. Anyway, nice meeting you”? Or, “Oh my, you’re right: that IS an impressive cluster of hemorrhoids. Indeed no, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. GOODBYE”?
In a devastating and frankly brilliant parting shot, she advised me to look up ‘perineal massage’ on Google. I resisted as long as I could but in the end I was macabrely compelled, like being unable to look away from a car crash or videos of tsunamis on YouTube. Here, for the stout of heart and stomach, is a description of perineal massage; there’s a picture; oh my sweet baby cheeses there’s even a video (thankfully featuring no free radical fanny flaps).
Some sites recommend you get your partner to massage your perineum, suggesting it reinforces love and closeness. Well, I don’t need Husband THAT close to feel The Love. In fact, in our relationship the intensity of love is directly proportional to physical distance within an optimal limit (in the region of 100m). Although it might be worth asking Andrew for a perineal massage just for the look on his face – or, more likely, the confusion that would ensue. I might get a nice head rub.
My favourite one came from the man who told me, shortly after my pregnancy was confirmed, about someone he knew whose wife delivered a still-born baby, strangled by the umbilical cord. It’s difficult to imagine anything more personally heartrending; I just about wept when I heard it.
After WTF, you might ask who – I mean to say – WHO – or even WHAT TYPE OF PERSON would tell such a story to a pregnant woman?
Yes, well, that would be MY HUSBAND.