My break room at work is a dangerous place. I spend as little time in there as possible, because to remain there too long is to submit myself to political rants and conspiracy theories, or diatribes on the dangers of preservatives and food dyes. But the break room is where the water cooler is, so, like a gazelle at the water hole, I have to take my chances and hope the crocodiles aren’t hungry.
A few weeks ago, around the 24 week mark of my pregnancy, I was in the break room refilling my water bottle to maintain the all-important “enough-so-you-pee-all-the-
“I thought you were getting fat, but that’s a baby in there, ain’t it.”
The only other person in the room looked up from her Words With Friends game. Her eyes darted back and forth between us while she debated calling for security.
I decided to be the better person and ignore the rudeness in my colleague’s tone and word choice. Instead, I accepted her clumsily conveyed, but possibly genuine, expression of surprise and interest.
“Yup, I’m due in July. Very excited.”
“Keeping it a secret? How come we never heard about it?” Her hands went to her hips, and if not for the complete lack of amusement in her face, I’d have been sure she was joking. But no, she’d been blindsided by new information and was genuinely grumpy that she was late to the gossip.
iPhone lady sensed my discomfort. She tried to rescue me by asking if I knew whether I was having a girl or boy, and I smiled as I patted my tummy and told her it was a little boy in there and I couldn’t wait to meet him.
Which set off some sort of land mine under Grumpy Lady.
“You – “ and she jabbed a finger at me to be sure I knew she meant me – “You took all the joy out of this baby. Why’d you need to know something like that? I never asked about my babies, never needed to look at them while they were in there. I took what came and didn’t care what kind I got.”
“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t care either way, really. I’m just happy to know which it is so I can plan a little better. And this way my husband and I will argue over half as many names!” I looked over to iPhone lady, who smiled and nodded in agreement.
“Nah, you kids today want it all convenient and easy. I bet you’re one of them who’s going to ask your doctor for a C-section so you get the birthday you want, too. Not happy with letting that baby come when it wants. No joy. No surprises. Need to control everything.”
She continued on in that vein for another minute or so with hardly a pause in her breath long enough for me to say anything in self-defense. With her still ranting, I mumbled something about how I didn’t think that’s how C-sections usually worked, and made a move for the door. As I stepped out into the hallway, she got a last word in:
“And I hope you have a GIRL!”