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Know it all

I like to lurk on pregnancy/expecting message boards. I rarely post replies to the queries, rants, or manifestos written by other pregnant women. Sometimes I have trouble expressing my opinions to complete strangers gently and constructively. I also fear coming across as the tiresome mom of many who thinks she knows everything.

For example: a woman states she wants an elective c-section to birth her first child because she does not do well with surprises, messes, pain, and immodesty. Initially, her doctor agreed, but at her last appointment, the doctor dropped an absolute heart-breaking bomb: Her insurance company won’t cover a c-section without a more compelling reason than “I don’t want people to see my pee-pee.”

Most of the replies were (((HUGS))).

But I sat there thinking bad thoughts about a woman I don’t know.

I wanted to tell her to get a grip and realize that motherhood will bring surprises, messes, and all manners of pain and immodesty into her life—sometimes in one fifteen minute block of time in the middle of what had been a quiet afternoon.

I was mentally arguing with her that women have been giving birth vaginally for eons so what makes her special, c-sections mean a longer recovery, and they’ll not only see your downtown neighborhood during a c-section, they’ll clear-cut any forestation you have going on. Three days later, you’ll look like an imploded Las Vegas casino. Rubble.

I wanted to tell her that her attitude was one reason insurance costs are so high. We pay for unnecessary c-sections with OUR premiums. Thanks a lot, coward.

(((HUGS))) weren’t on my mind.

Neither was a gentle pep talk.

If I were a better woman, I might readily remember the fears of being a first-time mom. I’d recognize I was once shockingly naive regarding the impact a wordless, toothless, helpless eight-pound person would make on my life. I walked around thinking my pregnancy experience was more unique than any other pregnancy in history and I deserved special consideration, sympathy, hugs, and indulgences of my fancies and fears.

Yet all I could do was think she was a loser for being honest, for being sad, for being worried.

A well-cast hook can draw out a whole lot of smug self-satisfaction. I wonder what fears I cover with my own mocking bravado sometimes—even if it was safely contained in my head as I read?

As I sat there congratulating myself for possessing enough maturity and self-control to not hit the reply button, it occurred to me that I was being just as ugly as if I were saying these things to her face. Part of being a healthy, wise woman is having the ability to be ever-empathetic when nobody is looking or listening. It doesn’t mean I can’t judge or discern.

It means I need to be mindful of how I express myself externally and internally.

20 comments to Know it all

  • Wow Gretchen, what a powerful, powerful post. I can completely identify. It’s the internal conversations that are harder to monitor.

    I’ll be thinking about this one for quite awhile.

    Heth’s last blog post..I Need a Do Over

  • What a thoughtful and well-written post, Gretchen. (Is there some way to just save that at the top of each comment I leave here, rather than typing it many times more?) You have touched on something that I have to be reminded of on a regular basis, sadly enough. When I am honest with myself about my own behavior, I am confronted with a startling truth: whatever I may think to the contrary, I am not better than my neighbor, for even the smallest reason.

    There have been plenty of times when I have patted myself on the back for being above the petty concerns of others, for being better or less flawed in some way. The truth is, we’re all imperfect — as reflected in our imperfect words, thoughts, and actions (choices, too). And you’re right, not speaking these thoughts aloud (or online) may spare another’s feelings, but it hardly justifies our ungenerous attitude.

    Thanks for writing something so deeply personal, and giving me another timely reminder. 🙂

    Jamie’s last blog post..Delusions of Authority

  • edj

    Oh yeah. You hit a little close to home with this one. I’m great at being outwardly nice, but too often inwardly judgemental. Thanks for such an honest and convicting post.

    edj’s last blog post..An Open Letter to

  • “But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying…”

    Great post.

    Veronica Mitchell’s last blog post..Proof That I Have Grown As a Parent

  • Wow! That was a powerful and even convicting post, Gretchen. Thank you for sharing it.

    And I could gently 😉 share with that first time mom that having a c-section is not going to help her in the modesty area. After 3 c-sections, there are more doctors, nurses, and surprised passers-by that have seen every part of my body, then I would even dare to count. LOL!

    Nicki’s last blog post..A Boy Is…

  • That is a hard one to have the right balance on. Whenever I hear an expectant mother say a c-section would be so convenient, I am sure they have probably never had surgery before or else they wouldn’t say that so glibly.

    But you’re right, we’ve all probably spoken similarly about something at some time in our lives. And we need to remember our heart attitudes count before the Lord even if no one else hears or sees them. (Ouch!!)

    Barbara H.’s last blog post..Friday’s Fave Five

  • Messy? Having your innards laying on the table beside your body while they fish a baby out of your middle is less messy?

    And months later, sitting on the toilet while small-footed invaders shove in your face books to read them and toys to play with while asking inappropriate questions? That’s less immodest?

    That sounds to me like a first-time mom who’s just freaking out a bit about the process of being a first time mom and trying to exert some sort of control over a situation for which she will have little. She has no idea what’s coming, but she’ll figure it out as it comes, just like the rest of the moms out there.

    When I was much younger I had a member of my staff who was eight months pregnant look at me with panicked eyes one day and say “I don’t think I can do this.”

    I was of course an idiot, as the only thing I could think of saying was “You probably shoulda thought of that 8 months ago.” Though I quickly added “Uh, don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”

    And she was. She just needed some (((hugs))) to help her through.

    And if it’s the insurance premiums that have you frustrated, know this: while she may not be the best patient, that doc is doing an excellent job. If the doc agreed to her having a c-section, (s)he’d be able to code the paperwork in such a way to make it something insurance would pay for. That the doc didn’t says the doc gets it. And docs get more $$ with c-sections, so double kudos to Dr. Showmeyourpeepee.

    Clayjack’s last blog post..Howard Stern Gets Political

  • What so often comes after our judgment of others is our OWN opportunity to see what that situation feels like from the inside (instead of out). I think that’s Heavenly Father’s sense of humor (but probably more, his sense of *justice*) coming through. I’ve been humbled more times than I can count by situations where I realize “Oh, ok, THIS is what that person may have been thinking.” A real lightbulb moment, if you will. It’s made the passage “Judge not, lest ye be judged” come alive for me.

    stacey @ tree, root, and twig’s last blog post..Where Our Stories Intersect

  • An excellent post, but I’m going to have to read it again because the first time I couldn’t stop laughing about the demolition of her “neighborhood”.

    Now that sounds like a cruel statement.


  • I needed to read this today. I did exactly the same thing this morning, only the topic was politics. As in your situation, I had valid, logical points I could have made to refute this person’s ideas. But I’m kidding myself if I deny that a big reason I wanted to respond is because of my own pride and judgment.

    Shauna’s last blog appreciation

  • Oh, boy. I want to shoot people who think that everything is ALWAYS hunky dory with pregnancy and birth when you take your prenatal vitamins and visit the doctor. Imprinted on my psyche, I guess.

    I’ve been struggling with that alot lately, with friends who are pregnant. So, thank you for the reminder.

    Rach’s last blog love

  • amy

    Ever-empathetic? Is this like having thoughts pure as the driven snow? I think that’s an impossible goal, really. And, as for commenting, your comment may have actually helped her snap to her senses, not at that moment, but someday. I remember worrying about things when I was pregnant (the first time) and little things my mom said that seemed highly irritating at the time, but after I’d been a mom a few months I thought, oh, ok, now I get it. I mean, if someone is sharing their birth plan with a message board full of people they don’t know, I think they are opening themselves up for something more than sympathy, but maybe I’m just a meanie.

  • Ouch. This is so true.

    And it brings me to a timely question… since I’ve only had boys before, do you call “down there” for girls a pee pee too? We were just discussing this regarding Ivy…


    Adventures In Babywearing’s last blog post..It’s Time For A Change

  • Ouch. “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks”

    But what we only think is also very telling.

    However, I think I’m going to agree with Amy here, also. Sometimes we NEED the swift kick in the rear. I don’t think Paul was always concerned with empathy…sometimes the Lord wants us to speak up.

    Although I’m sure those times are far fewer than we might like them to be!

    Jenni’s last blog post..Three Cheers for Three

  • Mmmm…too true. This part for me especially:

    “I wonder what fears I cover with my own mocking bravado sometimes—even if it was safely contained in my head as I read? ”

    I am definitely one to get self-righteous sometimes. But you’re right, whether it is out loud or not, it’s still pretty ugly.

    Beth – total mom haircut’s last blog post..Blogher Scarred My Child (but really it was me)

  • Wow, excellent post. I have to admit, I’ve had more inward conversations lately that I’d be embarrassed if they were outloud. So what was I doing letting them play out in my head????

    Thanks for sharing.

    Joanne’s last blog post..Speaking of Dancing

  • Great post, Gretchen. I’ve had similar discussions inside my own head, lately.

    “This is no one you know, and you have better things to do than write a rant about something that isn’t really your business. So why are you rehearsing the rebuttal in your head anyway?”

    Kelly @ Love Well’s last blog post..Note to Family: No Starbucks Gift Cards for Christmas This Year

  • Oh I LOVE you! I understand your conviction of being sure you have a right heart about it, but that doesn’t make you wrong about this poor woman.

    I also know what you mean about seeming like a know-it-all. That is what I often feel convicted about. But it is so sad to me when women refuse to find the incredible joy in being the woman that God created them to be. Suffering and pain are sometimes part of it. There’s joy to be had through that experience.

    I am encouraged by your post. I sometimes feel alone in my beliefs and your blog reminds me that I am in good company. Thanks!

    Lisa’s last blog post..The Magical Fish Tank

  • And we women are so quick to take offense to the written word the way it is…I think it is wise to leave things unsaid if they might not be beneficial, but sometimes God might want us to speak in order to help them.

    When done in love and a right spirit (which, of course, is the point you were making), our words, even if not what the hearer wants to hear, can be what he/she needs to hear. It’s hard to find truth in the Proverb “Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
    profuse are the kisses of an enemy” if one is not really a friend. Thanks for the reminder of this–I needed it.

    Minnesotamom’s last blog post..Sunday Sunshine – 3

  • What a convicting post! Jesus said a lot about loving our neighbors, etc…but He said even more about the state of our heart. Maybe because we can’t really truly love if our hearts are dark and ugly and full of ourselves. Thank God for His amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. I thought the same ugly things as I read the very beginning of your post…ready to agree whole-heartedly with you in my comments. And then OUCH – conviction!

    Thanks for taking the time to share that with us! Blessings!

    Lisa’s last blog post..Good advice?

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