For some reason, people see a pregnant belly as an open invitation for conversation. Somehow, if you have a person growing inside you, you just must want to share every detail with any passerby. When I was pregnant with Teddy, an Orthodox Jew flagged me down in a Jewel parking lot to ask how far along I was. Apparently, he felt he was really good at guessing when a woman was due and felt that me walking by was an invitation to play his little carnival game.
Oddly enough, it’s not just strangers that can verbally assault you while pregnant, but your closest friends and relatives too. Oh, the miracle of life! It brings out the worst in people.
Liz and I thought up some of our favorites from our pregnancies and compiled them here for your reading pleasure. Or so you can kick the perpetrator under the table when one of these inevitably come out of someone’s mouth.
1) “Just you wait!”
No matter what stage you’re at in your pregnancy, someone always wants to tell you how much worse it will get. At my baby shower, my cousin asked if I was feeling alright. “I’m feeling great, thanks!” I said. “Well, just you wait,” she replied. “You’ll feel horrible soon!” What wonderful news! Thanks for sharing.
If you just found out you are pregnant – well, just you wait – the morning sickness is about to set in. If you are dealing with morning sickness, well – just you wait! – the heartburn is on its way. And the stretch marks and the lower back pain and worst of all, the BABY! That baby will come, and then you’ll really be in trouble!
The problem with “just you wait” is that, yes, I actually will be waiting for that to happen. I don’t need your grim reminder. Also, if I say I’m doing well, can’t you just say “that’s great” and move on?
2) Birth horror stories
Even those who have not given birth are excited to share the birth horror story of their friend’s sister’s cousin who gave birth on an airplane wing in mid-flight or their building super’s baby mama whose baby was the size of a moose. There is no shortage of birth horror stories in the world, and once you are pregnant, you clearly are the person who needs to hear all of them.
What I always wanted to say to people is, “You know I have to do this, right?” There is no way out except through, and when I say through, I mean through my birth canal. Do you tell your friends about to hop on a transatlantic flight about the article you read on the latest gruesome plane crash? Or someone diagnosed with cancer about your elderly relative’s long and painful death? No? So shut your cake hole already about birth.
3) “Sleep while you can.”
What does this even mean? Sleep is not money, folks. You don’t build up an nest egg of sleep that you can cash in later when little junior is waking up all night long.
Also, it’s not that easy to sleep while you’re pregnant. Either you have to wake up every hour to pee or a tiny person is doing the cha cha on your insides or you can’t stop thinking about that horrible story someone told you about a lady who needed 42 stitches after her 12-pound kid was born.
“Sleep while you can” is another incarnation of “Just you wait.” And again, I will. I am the one who won’t be sleeping well for perhaps a year or more. Thank you for the reminder and the ridiculous advice.
4) “You look like you’re about ready to pop!”
Lord, have mercy. I am a human being. Do you know how birth works? Babies do not pop out. That image is disgusting, Also, what you are really saying is that I am huge. Is that ever a good thing to say to a woman? Nope.
Even if your dear friend has gained a ton of weight and her ankles are the size of sequoias, just say, “You look great!” and move on. No pregnant woman needs to be reminded that she’s large and getting larger by the minute.
5) “Should you be eating/drinking/doing that?”
I remember holding Starbucks cup on a cold winter morning when a male 40-something childless colleague asked me, “Should you be drinking that?”
I wanted to yell “Yes, dammit. First of all, a cup of coffee each day is perfectly fine, and second, I’m a grown-ass woman and I can decide what’s right and healthy for me and my child!”
But I didn’t. I just smiled politely and explained that it was hot cocoa. That guy was lucky that he didn’t end up on the receiving end of my pregnancy-induced rage.
I think it’s safe to assume that the person carrying the child is probably numero uno when it comes to knowing what she can and cannot have/do/be. A pregnant woman is having a child. She has not become a child. Don’t try to be her mommy.
6) “Can I touch your belly?”
7) “You look exhausted.”
File this under “things no one ever wants to hear about themselves.” Pregnancy does not create an exception to that rule.
8) “How are you feeling?”
Okay, this one isn’t entirely off limits. I mean, you are just expressing your general concern for their well-being. But when you’re pregnant, you get this question about 1,001 times a day. Suddenly, everyone cares how you feel, even people who would never have bothered to ask in the past. I always responded by saying, “Great, but how are YOU feeling?” I loved to watch people’s puzzled reactions.
9) Your advice.
Do you know how much advice pregnant ladies get?Tons. Just the mountains of advice from books, doctors, magazines and websites alone. Add to that a woman’s own mother, her mother-in-law and any woman she knows who has ever given birth. That’s a lot of advice. Again, normal rules of social interaction apply: if someone doesn’t ask for your advice, zip it.
So, what can you say? Process your comments through two filters: One, is it kind? Two, is it helpful? If the answer to either of those questions is no, shut it down.
I’ll leave you with a yowzer from my own pregnancy. I was about 8 months pregnant, chatting with a friend at a party who was also pregnant, when a man came up to us, very likely drunk (let us hope, at least) and said, “Why don’t you both turn around and we’ll see if you look pregnant from behind?”
My buddy froze. I just walked away.
So, even if you’ve said every item on this list, you can pat yourself on the back that you didn’t say that. Whew. That one was a doozy.
Photo credit: one tiny spark on flickr