16 December 2008

Playing telephone

It’s true in all households, often especially so in parsonages: you never know what you’ll get when you answer the phone. The other day, what I got was a (sur)reality check, a somewhat amusing reminder of just how…different…our so-called lifestyle is. When I picked up, a pleasant young man asked whether I’d be willing to participate in a women’s health survey. Hey, I’m all for women’s health, and no one was screaming at the time, so I agreed.

By the time we were a few questions in, I think he and I both regretted that decision. Things might have gone better if the survey had been essay instead of short answer/multiple choice. There were some predictable problems, e.g. that when he asked me to rate my “impression” of how effective various birth control methods are at “preventing pregnancy,” there was no way to nuance the definition of when pregnancy begins.

Operator? Operator? Could you disconnect me, please?

And then there’s the fact that CSPP and run-of-the-mill questionnaires simply don’t compute. So that you can share in my bemused amusement, here’s a sample of how it went:

He: Have you ever been pregnant?

Me: Yes, three times.

He: How many of your pregnancies were planned?

Me: Planned? Uh…planned?

He: Yes, how many of your pregnancies were planned?

Me: Uh, I don’t know… Maybe…the first one…kind of?

He: Okaaaay…so, one. Are you currently trying to get pregnant?

Me: [Figuring that not trying not to get pregnant doesn’t exactly count] No.

He: What form of birth control are you using?

Me: None.

He: Okaaaayyyy . . .

And so it went, with me finally finding relief in the “does not apply” option for a number of the ickier questions regarding me and my “partner(s).”

Then this one threw me into such a mental maelstrom that I was pretty much useless thereafter:

He: Assuming that you are not trying to get pregnant right now, which of the following best describes what your reaction would be if you found out that you were pregnant: A) It would be the best thing that could happen to me right now; B) It would be a good thing for me right now; C) It would be neither a good thing nor a bad thing for me right now; D) It would be a very inconvenient thing for me right now; or E) It would be the worst thing that could happen to me right now.

Me: [my personal Pandora’s box of CSPP-related issues suddenly thrown open by that simple question, I am instantly overcome by voices and visions: my sorry self plastered to the bathroom floor through months of nausea and vomiting, while the other kids run amok and neglected…the inexpressible joyous delirium of a kicking, squalling, bloody newborn laid upon my chest…that vocational duty thing...the youngest now getting into everything all day, and still not sleeping all night…the peaceful contours of that same baby’s cheeks in the moonlight, as he curves perfectly into my side when he and I have both fallen asleep as he nurses…my total inadequacy at this whole mothering endeavor in general…the faces of all my children…the faces of all my children that yet may be…my skinny jeans…my intense desire to try to try to trust and follow my Lord...the cost of milk, and the alarming rate at which we consume it…eternity… … … … …] Uh….uh….uhhhhh….Could you repeat those options?

He: *Sigh.* Ok. Assuming that you are not...

We muddled through to the end, and by the time he asked the last question regarding the highest level of education I’d completed, he and I were both shocked to discover that I have two Masters degrees. He sounded as startled as I felt, actually saying, “Oh! Two Masters? Really?! I mean—that’s great. Yeah--great!” Because clearly, my answers made no sense. (Moral of the story: these days, they’ll give anyone a degree or two.)


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Reminds me of the part in "Cheaper By the Dozen" when the Planned Parenthood representative stops by their house for a chat. ;-)

Rebekah said...


I always say yes to those survey people too. It's so nice to talk to someone who is interested in my opinions. Never had one as exciting as this, though.

Gauntlets said...

Man, I never get survey calls. :( Though now I feel prepped should the occasion present itself. :D

And, "the peaceful contours of that same baby’s cheeks in the moonlight, as he curves perfectly into my side when he and I have both fallen asleep as he nurses"

Thanks for the reminder. I keep forgetting that part. :)

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

"breastfeeding" wasn't an option for birth control, eh? Sigh...it never is, but I love seeing or hearing the reaction when I've used it.

The funny thing is...I work part time as a field interviewer for a big university, and last year, we asked a lot of those questions. He shouldn't have had any judgement responses to your questions. It is unprofessional and can sway the answer of some less principled than you.

However, it makes me terribly sad when the answers are very much the same with people who are not within the bonds of marriage, who have children who are a side-effect of their carelessness (and worse) and don't have the sense to even barely know how blessed they are by the God they are ignoring.

Sometimes it takes everything I have to not react, and I walk back to my car, drive around the corner and then stop and pray for them and these children.

MooreMama said...

Man. It might even be worth re-getting a landline, if I could have some of those kinds of surveys! Gauntlets already picked out the line that jumped at me.

I miss my baby today - more than normal. Maybe because she fell asleep on me while nursing last might/this morning and I just kept her with there until time to get up instead of putting her back in her crib. I think that's what Heaven must feel like.

Joy said...

Good for you, MooreMama. You'll never regret holding your baby.

As for the post, it just goes to show that we Christians are in the world but not of it. I'm glad RM had the opportunity to plant a seed in this young man's mind.

Reb. Mary said...

RPW, to his credit, the young man was doing the best he could with what I was giving him. He didn't really break stride till that last question, which was just too much for him :) Nope, I don't remember breastfeeding being listed as a "birth control" method, but natural family planning was mentioned in one of the lists he reeled off. And there was some vague "God's will" option for one of the questions, which wasn't quite right, but I picked it because I had to pick something and it was the best fit. So. That field interviewing must be an interesting part time job!

Mooremama, I know the feeling. I mean, I'd much rather be sleeping through the night by this point (my baby's older than yours, old enough to know better, ha ha) but those moments can thankfully be so sweet that it's hard to hold a grudge against the little bugger :) It's great that you have those moments to carry with you when you have to be separated from her during the day.

MooreMama said...

Reb. Mary - I'm torn. I mean, she can and does sleep through the night, and by that, I mean that she sleeps from 7:30 or 8 until 5 or so. But when she does, I don't know whether to appreciate the full night's sleep or miss the sleepy nightime nursing.

As far as getting through the day, believe it or not, pumping (with all it's hassle and indignity) makes me feel connected to her. Someone else may be able to change her diapers and put her down for a nap, but only I can make her food. I am Mama, hear me roar!

Reb. Mary said...

Mooremama, :D A friend told me that there's a Facebook "bumper sticker" to the effect of "I'm a Superhero: I make milk!" (Amazons, correct me if I didn't get it quite right.)