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What I've Learned Attending Baby Showers as an Ob/Gyn

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Lately, I find myself attending more baby showers than cocktail parties. Perhaps I am at an age where all of my friends are in heat or perhaps this is the tell-tale sign that I am now old. There are of course benefits to having one’s social calendar filled with baby showers. For one, baby showers mostly occur during the day, ensuring I will be able to get to bed on time. Then there are those mandatory baby games. I recently graduated from pretending to enjoy games such as “diaper raffle” and “guess the baby food” to actually experiencing intermittent bursts of what I presume is joy, especially when I win. But the real reason that I am willing to suffer through baby showers is for the promise of cake. There is always cake.

The baby showers I enjoy most are the ones where people never figure out that I am an Ob/Gyn. But those are few and far in between. Unless I blatantly lie about my profession, which I have considered seriously lately, the conversation somehow evolves into “What do you do for a living?” Telling a pregnant woman you are an Ob/Gyn at a baby shower is akin to opening Pandora’s box. Questions flow freely, like “Should I be drinking raspberry-lemon-blueberry-grape tea to induce labor? or “If I do jumping jacks, will that bring my baby’s head lower into my pelvis?” or “Do you think I will end up with a C-section?”

The secret to answering these questions, I have learned, is to give them the answer that they are hoping for. Honesty has never helped in these situations. For example, if I say “drinking raspberry-lemon-blueberry-grape tea has not been shown to induce labor,” I am quickly met with, “but it worked for Amy, my next door neighbor. And ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazine had a whole page devoted to it.”

Having gone to enough of these parties, I have come to recognize there are several types of pregnant women. The ones who enjoy pregnancy are easy to spot. They appear to have been barely affected by the pregnancy. They continue to do all of their pre-pregnancy activities and love talking about their pregnancy. Then there are those for whom the pregnancy has bowled them over. They had a miserable first trimester and things only got worse. They lack the energy to even carry on conversations. They are counting down the days till they can deliver. Then there are the realists. These women realize that pregnancy is not fun, but in social settings they try to put a positive spin on all that they are experiencing. These are the women who you catch staring lovingly at the cocktail you are drinking from across the restaurant and the ones who beg you to talk to them about world affairs than to pester them with questions such as “Is the nursery ready?”

If I have gained anything from attending these baby showers, asides from the cake, is the recognition that pregnancy has evolved from a state of being to a being in and of itself. It is no longer enough to just get through the nine months without losing one’s sanity. There are societal expectations attached to what a pregnant woman must do. From strict diets to exercise regimens to careful worrying, one has to publicly show others that they are capable of being a responsible parent. It is no wonder why babymoons and push presents are a needed essential for today’s pregnancies.

Dr. Jerome Chelliah is a resident physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as a 2018–2019 Doximity Author.

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