Jun 16, 2009

A Rant About Gender and Pregnancy

First, some (much abbreviated) background, my apologies to those for whom this is a repeat.

I got married at 30. We started trying to have kids at 34, by 35 we were full into the ART (assisted reproductive therapy) swing. At 37, tired of all the hormones, tests, and procedures, we called it a day. At 38, we unexpectedly (very unexpectedly) had a baby girl. At 39, we lost a baby. At 40, we plunged back into the Clomid full force and, at 41, had another baby girl. Afterward, we decided that to just let fate do its thing. I wasn’t going back to hormones (either assistive or preventative), I wasn’t going to monitor for ovulation. After all, fertility has always been an issue for us and, of course, it declines as one gets older. Not to mention, with two kids under 3 and me working nights, how much, er, personal time do we get? As we now know, the Great Good Thing had different plans for us, of course.

Ok, on to today’s rant...

So, my boss calls this morning with some action items (I hate that term) from yesterday’s ExCom (I hate that term too - we’re not the military, for Pete’s sake) meeting. She wants me to make another presentation on why contracts and, more specifically, the language in our contracts is important and to go through our contract procedures with our PMs (project managers, not prime ministers though, of course, some of them think of themselves as the latter). They want me to make this presentation at one of the monthly staff meetings. Now, there’s really only one date that will work as July’s meeting is coming too quickly to put a presentation together on our currently shortened hours and still get the other work done and September is, well, occupied. So, August it is.

In the course of this discussion, she reveals that she’s told ExCom that we’re expecting. I have to say I’m a bit surprised. She was the one that wanted me to keep this quiet (because our COO was p-i-s-s-e-d that I got pregnant last time - that much was made very clear to me at the time: heaven forfend, I should put my personal life above the company) and, given that I work from home, it’s possible I might have kept it secret until well after the fact. (We don’t have maternity leave, per se, and, last time, I was working 10 hours a week within a week of getting home from the hospital.) But, ok, they know. And, she adds, “they’re all happy you’re expecting a boy.”

Ok, this I have a problem with. Like they wouldn’t be happy if it was a girl? Still, I’d think it was just a wording thing except that I’ve talked to several people for whom the only saving grace of this pregnancy is that the baby appears to be a boy.

The pregnancy was received poorly by many people until we/they found out the baby is a boy. From my parents to random acquaintances, people seem to think that we’re crazy/disobedient/inappropriately fecund to have a third but, oh, it’s ok because “John’s getting his boy”. So, WTF? How could our pregnancy possibly affect you? It’s not like my parents babysit or really have much to do with our children at all. It’s not like we’re imposing on friends to watch our kids or run errands, etc. We’re not on public support; we pay our taxes, Katie’s preschool tuition, and our bills. It’s not like I work fewer hours or ask for weird accommodations due to pregnancy... as I mentioned earlier, I was back in the saddle within a week, answering emails, and back at 10 hours a week the following week and back to my full 20 hours a week within 6 weeks. I took no unpaid time off. I took no paid time other than my normal sick leave and normal vacation time: time to which I would have been entitled whether or not I had a baby. So how could our pregnancy, the number of children we choose to have, possibly be any business of yours to judge?

Let me just say this publicly: we were thrilled about this pregnancy from the day we discovered it. We are happy it’s a boy; we would have been happy if it had been a girl - we just care that it’s healthy (which, thank God, he appears to be). Every child is a miracle, particularly when one has had such trouble conceiving... every child.

I guess I am grateful they don’t have to have the experience which leads them to understand how precious each chance to be a parent is. Fertility crap sucks - there’s only about 1 or 2 people in this world that I’d be tempted to wish that misery upon (and those people I wouldn’t want reproducing anyway so I suppose in the end I wouldn’t wish it upon them either).

But, I say again, WTF?!

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Blogger Gino said...

"Every child is a miracle"


And some people are just stupid, and cant see a baby for what it really is, and instead see a baby for what they think it should be.
well, fuck them.

3:03 PM  
Blogger LauraJ said...

With a lack of profound things to say I agree with Gino!

8:36 AM  
OpenID jerseytjej said...

As a clomid nonworking, failed IVF survivor ( inclusive of a $17,000 AMEX charge for the 3rd egg harvest and fertilization)...lost natural conception survivor I am completely in agreement with you...WTF? WHY do they care the gender of the child...Like somehow the fetus is more worthy slash important based on sex. I heart your patience and strength!

3:15 PM  
Anonymous RD said...

I don't get it. A child is a child. I am thrilled to have two girls. Not that I pretend to ever understand the female brain even in those so young as my two, bit I still would never trade them for anything else.

5:54 AM  
Blogger smileymamaT said...

Aha. I've heard this before but with a slight twist... when we were expecting Baby #3 and did not know what gender we'd get as we only had one ultrasound at 4 months. So.. I heard a ton of "maybe you'll finally get your boy" and that kind of thing... a LOT.. and I put myself on Repeat Mode answering "as long as it's healthy..." because that's the truth. And we had Girl #3 for which we were both thrilled. And here came the comments from family members. "So you gonna try for a boy?" I got so fed up that at one point I answered, "Hey! Why don't YOU try for a boy and let me know how it turns out, 'cause I'm DONE". :)
And your company meetings and proposals and executive terminology gives me hives. They all need to go on a retreat and let you do your thing.
Have a good weekend, for real. I have just now learned about the new baby, and I send warm congratulations and hugs from afar. OXO.

9:22 AM  
Blogger smileymamaT said...

...and I just went back to the last post and see I must have read about the new baby before now, but my brain is on another planet altogether, sorry!
The congratulations still stand, of course, LOL! :)

9:35 AM  
Blogger graymama said...

We always get the
"Don't you want anymore?"
"I guess, you do already have your boy."

Some people are idiots!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Brightdreamer said...

Looking at society, the boy/girl gender bias is so deeply and subtly entrenched that I expect it'll linger long after we've finally eradicated prejudice against religion, color, and ethnicity. Don't believe me? Take a look at the ads on TV. In the past few decades, all sorts of ethnic minorities have popped up selling all sorts of things... and yet, Mom still does all the laundry, frets over Junior's fever, and vacuums the rug while Dad still fixes the car, goofs off golfing, and is henpecked into a "honey-do" list. (Heck, I still remember back when I was a junior staffer at day camp; one of the girl campers told me - quite seriously - that boys must be better than girls because, in movies, girls never drove the car.)

honstele - Archaeological term for sharpened standing stones.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous IWOM said...

The offer still stands - I'll come beat up anybody who really ticks you off if it will make you feel any better. It would make ME feel better!

Oi. Like one's fertility is a proper subject for conversation with anybody outside your immediate circle. Can't wait to get back the the impersonal UK/USA where nobody has yet asked Himself and me why we don't/when will we have children. Dozens of (maybe a hundred)Chinese folk over the past two years START conversations with that question when they first met me!The Confuscious-like answer 'the universe unfolds as it should' usually moves the flow of the converstaion.

('Cept that's not ancient Chinese wisdom, that's Babylon 5).

12:56 AM  

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