Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tact or "Talking to Pregnant Women 101"

Okay, being pregnant, I'm frequently getting asked how far along I am. This is a fine question for any pregnant woman. (But, PLEASE, do NOT ask unless you are 110% sure she is pregnant.) What is not fine however is when she tells you she's still got a ways to go, to look down with wide eyes at her belly, and say any of the following comments.

(The following are purely hypothetical ramblings, illustrating nothing that has happened to myself. Purely hypothetical.)

"Oh! Are you having twins?"
"So, do you have big babies then?"
"Wow! You're big! My daughter is tiny and she's due next month."
"That is ONE BIG BABY!!!"

Saying those things to a non-pregnant person would be considered incredibly rude. Saying them to a pregnant woman is not any more polite. Though the pregnant body is a miraculous life producing wonder, it simply does not produce whatever hormone or brain connection necessary to deal with peoples tactless comments. All pregnant women are very aware of how their body looks, and probably compare their belly to every other woman they see. They know it may be that they've sent their husbands out at midnight for ice cream too many times, but even if that is the case, it's really none of your business! They know how big they are, and they don't need you pointing out anything.

Any of these comments may get you a polite smile, and a courteous nod. What the (hypothetical) woman may be saying inside is "Bite me." Quite possibly she's making a list of any real or imagined flaws you may have, simply to make her overly hormonal self feel a tiny bit better. Perhaps she's vowing to never go to church again, because every time she does, someone tells her how big she is. If she's tired that day, or if her feet hurt, and her ankles are swollen, or she's feeling just a bit emotional, she may be trying to find the closest exit to get to where no one can see her so she can cry.

Again, all that was totally hypothetical.

Now, for a true story. When I was pregnant with my last baby, I got huge fast. (A phenomenon being duplicated with baby #3) By two months, I was in maternity clothes. I was frequently getting told how big I was. Between all the "You're so huge!" comments, there was one person (one of my high school best friends moms ~ who I will love for the rest of eternity) who kept telling me, "You REALLY don't look big. For how far along you are, you're small. No, you're not too big at all. You look just right." She was the shining beacon in that pregnancy. Was she right, no. I was huge. My body gets really big, and makes really big babies. That's just how it is. But, this one person made me feel like I was okay just how I was, and that it was fine for my body to be big, it was building a baby. She was my pregnancy angel, and I'd like to thank her for her kindness, her example, and for the wisdom she had regarding how to talk to pregnant women.

Growing up, my father used to tell us to only speak when we have something to say that is a combination of the following;

1 - Nice
2 - Necessary
3 - True

If it's not at least 2 of the 3 things, don't say it. (But, you can blog about it....)


Debra Darling said...

I'll never forget the day an older woman caught my attention by asking, "What, are you having twins?" Literally, seconds later a friend of mine came by and said, "You look GREAT!!! How do you stay so small?" I preferred the second comment and believed her much more than the first lady.

Tara said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. Some people are just so rude. "Hi stupid people we realize how big we are and that our clothes stopped fitting months ago, now leave us alone. We are busy creating a miracle.!"

Karen said...

As a woman who has 10 lb. babies, I have totally been there with your "hypothetical" woman.... Like when I was pregnant with Jared and I was 6 or 7 months along and every single person I encountered said, "Wow, are you due any day now?" No... I've only got 2 1/2 months left- why don't you just point out how swollen my ankles are and that my stomach is big enough to comfortably park a dinner tray too? It's hard enough to get "big" with child and put up with all kinds of uncomfortable and unattractive body changes (not to mention getting big again with nursing) without having people constantly point it out to you. Whatever happened to "you look great"? Even if it is a teensy bit of a stretch..... =]

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