Let's be clear: I'm no saint, and I've been guilty of putting my foot in my mouth more than
one several times in my life. That being said, a simple tutorial like this one may have saved me from mortification many times, had it been available.
So, based on recent personal experiences, I have decided to share with you some knowledge...
Pregnancy is an incredible, magical time in a woman's life. She is growing a tiny human being inside her own body, which can feel empowering, emotional, irrational, and overwhelming all at the same time. I am in my third trimester and 20 pounds heavier than I was last summer, which has definitely done a number on my self esteem (even though I would gain it all again in a heartbeat for the sake of my precious Baby Boy). However, some of the comments and observations that have been shared with me lately have been unwelcome, insensitive, hurtful, and downright mean.
Are you sure about your due date?
Asked incredulously while pointedly eyeing my belly after being told Baby Boy is expected to arrive around the beginning of May. Thanks, I know my midsection has taken over the majority of my anatomy right now, but it is in fact normal for my body to have stretched some at this point, making room for the TINY HUMAN growing in there. According to my doctor, my weight gain at this point is, in fact, entirely average, but thanks for making me feel like a whale.
Wow, you look like you got bigger overnight!
Well, let's see. I spent last night eating a healthy dinner, walking two miles on the treadmill, and going to bed early only to toss and turn due to discomfort and acid reflux all night. Then I got up this morning and spent extra time picking out this outfit hoping to still look and feel my best. So having you comment on how large and in charge I look, despite all my best efforts and insecurities, really helps make my effing day. I didn't comment on your post-holiday weight gain, so kindly keep your observations to yourself, okay?
Can I touch your belly?
No. No, you cannot. While asking first is certainly better than lunging in like I'm a freaking Buddha begging for a belly rub, it still puts me in an extremely uncomfortable position. If you know me at all, you realize that I don't like being touched, and if we aren't close enough for you to know that, then you certainly don't have any business touching me anywhere, ever. If my baby is kicking and I want you to have a feel, I'll ask you if you'd like to feel the baby move. Otherwise I'd rather keep my bump to myself, thank you very much.
Are you sure there aren't two in there?!
Again, asked in mock shock while staring at my belly like it's the largest thing you've seen since Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson waddled their way across the pages of US Weekly. You might as well say, "Wow, you sure look fat!" instead of asking this rude question. Some women's bellies get huge during pregnancies, others do not. But thanks for pointing out how obese you think I look, asshole.
You're breastfeeding/circumcising/baptizing your baby, right?
It seems the moment we announced our pregnancy that these questions began coming up on an almost daily basis. Basically, it's no one's business how a mother feeds her baby, whether or not she'll choose to circumcise him, or what her family's religious preferences are. And really, you're only asking because you're desperate to impart your own
wisdom unsolicited advice about the subject, and frankly, I don't care. My husband and I can make choices for our son without your opinion, thanks.
You look like you're ready to burst!
Or did you mean, "You look like a beached whale." I began hearing this gem at about 26 weeks from everyone from the sales clerk at Toys R Us to random fellow bus commuters. And honestly, it's the last thing a pregnant woman needs to hear when her hormones are raging and she can no longer fit into half of her maternity clothes. I'm sorry I can't live up to your standards, but thanks for really making my day.
You're in for a surprise...
I don't know why parents feel the need to constantly "warn" me about how little sleep I will get, how awful I'm going to look, how many of my belongings will be destroyed, and generally how miserable I'm going to be once my baby is born. Moms-to-be are well aware of the sleepless nights in our future, and the fact that our reality will be drastically altered by the presence of a new, tiny, dependent human being. Why people feel the need to focus on the negative aspects of newborns, I'll never understand, but it does not help with any of the anxieties of becoming a new parent. You're only making me feel more apprehension than I already do. And it's a little late for me to change my mind, don't you think?
Enjoy (insert activity) while you still can.
I'm sorry if, for you, having a child has meant that you now never have time to do ANYTHING. But my husband and I do not intend to be shells of our former selves. I happen to know plenty of parents who still watch movies, read books, and enjoy dinner at restaurants. I know many working moms with successful careers and happy children. So I'm not buying this whole idea that life suddenly ends when you have a baby. Sure, I understand that things will change a lot. But it will be for the better, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
I don't know what it is about a baby bump that inspires such insensitive comments, but it sometimes seems as if strangers, and even people I know well, will say anything to try to bring a pregnant woman down from her happy cloud. Getting used to people staring at me as if I'm a zoo exhibit when I waddle down the sidewalk has been hard, but learning to laugh off certain comments I hear way too much may be one of the most difficult things I've had to deal with while navigating through the complicated journey of being knocked up.
I'm sure many of you mean well, but please...
Think before you speak to a pregnant woman about how your words might come across.
And if you feel the need to make a comment, a simple, "You look great!" can really go a long way...
This has been another edition of
Live & Learn Thursday!
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