Thursday, February 20, 2014

Live & Learn -- What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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.

What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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 careMy 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...
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This has been another edition of
Live & Learn Thursday!
Life As Always
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  1. all true. i esp hate those assumptions like "you're going to BF/cosleep etc right?". no, how about you mind your own business and let me care for my child how i see fit. it never ends!

    Vodka and Soda

  2. First I'll start off by saying I've seen you via blog picture (not to be creepy- ha!) and you are freaking adorable. Secondly, I'm right with you on the touching the belly thing. I've never been pregnant, but I'd be fully creeped out if someone started rubbing my belly other than my husband (or maybe my mom...but I'm not even sure about that yet).

  3. Awww!! People are instantly stupid when they see a beautiful pregnant person and it's so hard not to take that into consideration when YOU are the one whose body is going through all of the changes and sometimes torture-- you're not used to looking the way you do, feeling the way you do, or having to live like you are while housing the little human inside you. And it's true.. I'm guilty of it too, people are always so curious about how you are going to raise your child because they feel they have great wisdom or a funny story to share. One thing I will NEVER understand are strangers that feel the need to touch your belly-- it's like touching a stranger's newborn. You almost need a protective layer that sends off an electric shock to said person. WTH are they thinking?

  4. People are so darned NOSY and just plain loons! How dare someone say any of those things to you. I have half a mind to get pregnant just so I can put people in their place (okay wow I need to relax.) Thank you for stopping by my blog via the hop, very glad to return the favor xo

  5. I'm 34 weeks with our second right now. I have a few friends who are always making comments like "You're getting so big!!!" and they really don't mean it in a mean way, but it just isn't what you want to hear. Yes, I am getting big, and I can appreciate that because it means the baby is healthy and growing, but there are nicer things to say... and I agree that all of the comments about "Do this while you still can!" and "You're in for a big surprise!" are soooo unnecessary!! I also hate it when people tell me horror stories about their friends' terrible labour experiences or unhealthy babies....ahhh extra stress.

  6. What is the phenomenon with touching pregnant bellies? I mean, don't get me wrong... I've touched my sister's and Pete's sister-in-laws and CLOSE friends... but WHYYYY would you want to touch a strangers pregnant belly?!?!

  7. I think it is really sad that I can say I have heard each and every one of these comments being said to a pregnant woman. I will admit, I am probably guilty of saying a few of these myself, but I am definitely going to be much more careful now! Chin up, momma - you are doing great, you look amazing, and I can't wait to meet that beautiful baby boy!

  8. It's crazy the things people say to pregnant women!! I had one lady at the bread store, very rudely ask if it was my first and if I was sure it wasn't twins!! Yup, ruined my whole day, some lady I don't even know!!
    You look awesome!! People are just jerks!

  9. Yes and yes!! It's so funny how people can be so insensitive to infertile couples as well as pregnant couples!! They're all assholes and I'm not holding my tongue anymore!!

  10. I would hate people always asking if they could touch my belly! It's one thing for people you're close with to touch it, but strangers?! um no.

  11. I always think you look adorable when you post your weekly pictures for your letters to Baby Boy. People are idiots! I can't BELIEVE people actually say this stuff.....

    I do agree, though, that people asking to touch your belly is MUCH better than them just copping a feel without so much as a word! But honestly, I also feel that that question is reserved for your husband and close family/friends. Everyone else is off limits!

  12. ug, and it NEVER ends. After you have him so many people that you barely even know will comment and add "advice" on anything. I've been getting it for 4.5 years.. anything from breastfeeding, having another child, discipline, home-schooling, day care, pre-school, stay at home mom, work at home mom, work away from home mom (I get to say I've been all THREE now!) and everyone has some kind of comment. Honestly, that's why I'm not on fb anymore, I don't care what people think! LOL You will find out that your supportive friends just offer a shoulder to cry or bitch on, haha! I've had mothers tell me I need to get my son "out" more.. when their kid was the biggest brat alive.. I've had a friend tell me my son was too bossy because he said "hug me!" to me.. omg.. and she and I only hung out like twice since I had Abraham. I've even had my own family impart judgment! Oh and of course there's the religious stuff too..ah! I've learned never to say never and never judge other moms because your ideas will always be changing and you'll always be learning more. Plus, you're really open-minded like me so it's inevitable to be investigating new things and different ways of doing things.

  13. i've never been preg but have witnessed those things being said to expecting moms. I'm not a violent person, but dang i wanted to be! how freakin' rude!

  14. I used to hate it when people would say a baby changes everything. Why yes thank you for that. It is so true but shut the F up I know life will change. Also I think that your belly is adorable and not at all huge.

  15. I've already said to the husband that if his mother DARES to try touch my belly if I get pregnant there will be hell to pay! She used to stroke SILs belly all the time and it made me cringe. I'm not a touchy feely person so that would drive me up the wall.

  16. If/When I'm pregnant no one better touch my belly. I hate being touched by strangers!

    and ohmygod. the "you'll be doing X right?!" Um none of your business! Talk about mommy wars lol

  17. Sadly you can't fix stupid and there seems to be more of them every day. This is a great list and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing!


  18. Hi, I am coming over from Jenni's blog hop! This is such a useful post! I am sure to remember it!


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