Monday, February 2, 2015

Small Talk

First, a status update: William is 32 weeks along. We went for an ultrasound today, and everything looks perfectly normal (it's not usually something the ultrasound tech can tell you, but we had a physician doing it).

He's up to 3 pounds, 11 ounces. Keep it up, little guy. Six to eight weeks to go!

Now, lets talk about something I've been reflecting on... small talk.

Imagine yourself in this position: Your young colleague / neighbor / acquaintance announces a pregnancy. You bump into them in the lunch room, at a party, or waiting for the bus. So you chat. You ask them about the pregnancy: "When's the due date?", "Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?"... "Is it your first?"

At that question, they suddenly hesitate. You might wonder why - "Is it your first" didn't seem like a hard question. It's a pretty straightforward 'Yes' or 'No', really.

It's incredibly easy for any well-meaning person to go down this conversational route - and in 99.5% of cases where you happen to ask that to someone who has had children, it won't lead to any awkward conversation.

But the 0.5% is out there.

I still hesitate when I'm asked. For me, the answer to 'Is this your first?' is almost always 'No - it's my second' - except, I confess, in situations where I don't feel like I could tell the story.

Saying 'No' doesn't necessarily lead to me delving in the story at all - more often than not, actually, the pregnancy questions stop there, and we move on to other conversation subjects. But sometimes i'll be asked how old my first is. "She would have turned one last month, but she died at birth".

That's a bit heavy for small talk, isn't it?

Here's the thing, though: it's important for me to acknowledge it. I'm not going to start wearing a t-shirt saying "My baby died! Ask me about it!", but if i'm asked directly, I will not hide it. We might one day live in a perfect world where every pregnancy ends with a healthy happy baby, but we're not there today. Small talk or not, I won't lie to preserve the appearance of everything always being okay, which might be what's generally expected in small talk.

I say this realizing that it's a bit hypocritical for me, who always responds "Good", when asked "How's it going?", to start ranting about small talk. It's not that I don't care about keeping folks generally at ease - it's that being honest about my daughter is more important to me.

Everyone has a story in life - It's interesting to wonder just how close I've come to learning other people's stories, just by asking the right questions.

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