Chinese Parents’ Reactions

We are 27 weeks today.  Woohoo!

In order to best prepare for my maternity leave, I have started to tell the parents of the kiddos that I work with about the gestational surrogacy and the twins’ scheduled arrival in September.  Majority of the kids on my caseload are Chinese, so majority of the parents with whom I share the news are Chinese.   The dads are more practical.  Most of them didn’t say congratulations and just took whatever I said as facts.  They were more concerned about the schedules in my absence and whether their kiddos can be seen by me again when I return from maternity leave.  One of the dads has boy/girl twins.  With a nervous smile on his face (I don’t know why), he just said, “You will be super busy”.  I just have to take his word for it because he is the one with the experience of twins (and one with disability).  Most Chinese moms were more typical.  They were a little surprised at first, and they usually congratulated me, especially after I confirmed that we are indeed expecting a boy and a girl.  They all said, “You are so lucky!”  I get bugged at times by this reaction.  To me, a person who has been longing for a baby, I would feel blessed if God gives me a boy, a girl, two boys, or two girls.  I just want a baby.  It really doesn’t matter to me if it’s a boy or a girl.  But I can understand why many people feel that this is a lucky thing because I will have an “instant” family in one shot.

And then there were these two Chinese moms.  Chinese Mom Number One’s reaction was the most peculiar.  This is how it went down:

Me: [My blurb about having a surrogate carrying twins for us]

Mom: Have you given birth before?

Me: No.  These are going to be my first children.

Mom: Beware of breast cancer.

Me: ……

Who in the world would respond to another person sharing baby news by warning that person of the risks of breast cancer??!?

She went on and on about her sister who had never given birth and got breast cancer.  She truly believes that her sister’s sickness was due to never having given birth.  I mean, I had heard that before, and it could be true(??), but this is not a normal reaction to another person announcing baby news.  What about a simple congratulations?  And how can someone be “careful” about getting breast cancer?  Regardless of me telling her about my annual checkup and mammogram, this mom still insisted that my chances are higher as her sister also did annual check up and still got it.  And if I said that I don’t have family history, she responded by saying you don’t have to have family history to get breast cancer.  At that point, I gave up.

Chinese Mom Number Two was a bit more normal.  After I told her the news, she congratulated me.  However, as we discussed the schedule, she blurted out, “How nice for you that you don’t have to carry the babies!”  Wow.  Just wow.  I was speechless for a few seconds.  Who in the right mind would say such a thing?  How could she not think even for one second the reason why we needed to pursue surrogacy for a baby?  Who would go to this extreme measure to have a baby just so that she doesn’t have to carry the babies?  She didn’t consider for one second that I would feel that it’s my loss not to be able to carry my own children.  It just blows my mind.  I simply answered, “If I could carry, I would, but since I can’t, this is the path we have taken” and left it at that.

The parents’ reactions have been my entertainment/drama for the past few days.  I haven’t told all the parents yet, so we will see what else I will be told.  But I guess I won’t be surprised by what anyone says anymore.  Who can top these two Chinese moms, right?

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18 thoughts on “Chinese Parents’ Reactions

  1. Oh man #1 is hilarious because, well, yea, giving birth and nursing does have a scientifically proven protective factor for breast cancer. (I remember learning about it in grad school and at the time at least they didn’t know the biological mechanism for this) BUT this is population based, not individuals and who knows this stuff and really WHO would go around spouting this information to people?! So weird. Maybe she had your best interest at heart? But weird.

    2. People don’t think. And they are insensitive. And they don’t think. Prepare for more of this, unfortunately.

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  2. There is some evidence that nursing has been linked to reduced breast cancer rates; but that doesn’t imply the reverse. Weird.

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  3. I got a kick out of all those reactions, but I’m not the one who had them said to my face. I imagine the twin dad’s face is what mine and my husband’s look like when I encounter someone newly pregnant with twins. You so badly want to warn them of how hard newborn twins are but you don’t want to steal their joy, because it’s wonderful too.

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  4. I’ve been told by a random person that I’ll get ovarian cancer because I cannot give birth. So I guess I should also add breast cancer to my list of future ailments? And ive also been told, more times then i care to count, how lucky i am to have not had to go through labour and give birth. That comment just pisses me off and i usually correct people and tell them that i have had multiple pregnancies and none have ended successfully so my version of labour is much different then most. Needless to say, I will never understand people….

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  5. Yay 27 weeks! So exciting. And, a small eye roll to the strange comments. Sometimes people can be very caught up in their own perspective and not try to look at it from another’s!

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  6. Wow,you’re getting there! 27 weeks and counting! So happy for you. I can’t wait.
    Meanwhile… Ok then. Does she say the same thing to people who eat meat? And no, it’s NOT lucky that you can’t carry your kiddies. Ah, there’s always SOMEONE..isn’t there? Or two..or three! I hope you’ll only find these two!

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  7. “Thank you.” Then subject change. Any further remarks just worsen the situation.
    But! YAHOO for 27 weeks and counting. Thrilled for you all and holding the very best wishes for the remaining weeks.

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  8. About the breast cancer mom – sometimes I think illness like that overshadows the minds of those of us who suffer along side our loved one. It was very weird for her to say that and be so persistent but I can also see why she might get stuck there. I have read research suggesting the risk is higher for women who haven’t been pregnant. I’m not sure if it’s tied to birth or a term/close to term pregnancy. Still so weird to get this response! And no you can’t be more careful than you’re already being!

    On mom #2: gah. Some people just don’t think. That’s all I’ve got.

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  9. Congratulations! As a child of Hong Kong immigrants, I KNOW some Chinese people can be…blunt about things. They’ll tell you how things are, as is. Like they will tell someone he/she is fat. However, I thought this was something you got from older people and not Gen X/Xennial/Millennials. However, that could just be MY CIRCLE (pretty much all western-born and or raised (at least in part)). That mom who talked about breast cancer? WEIRD, IMHO. Maybe she spends too much time reading health blogs written by celebrities! As for #2, well, it sounds like she has body image issues (not surprising in Asian communities…seriously, size 0 is “fat” to some).

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  10. Wow how interesting and uncomfortable. People in general don’t think about what they say and how their words could hurt others. I hope the rest of your telling others went ok.

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    • Honestly, it could also be that no one ever explained to Mom #2 that comments such as hers might be seen as inappropriate this side of the Pacific (not sure if it’s inappropriate THERE, but certainly MORE COMMON)?

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