Pregnancy is crazy when you think about it: for approximately 40 weeks your body becomes a home for another human being that basically might as well have developed out of thin air because scientific facts aside, it is mind-blowing to me that procreation happens the way it does – a tiny sperm and tiny egg meet up and start sprouting bones and organs… what?! Then, over the course of those 40 weeks, this little person shares your meals, your air, your experiences and then one day decides it’s time to leave and expels themselves from your body. Think about it for a minute. It’s seriously science fiction.
But perhaps the strangest pregnancy phenomenon of all has to do with other people – oftentimes strangers or mere acquaintances – who feel that just because you are pregnant, they can walk up to you, word vomit about something that very well may be insulting, and maybe invade your personal space as they try to touch your belly… all without being prompted.
So today I dedicate this post to some of the more uncomfortable and strange things people (who don’t really know me that well) have said or asked over the last 7+ months. Don’t get me wrong – I will happily gab to my girlfriends, friends, and family about most of these topics, and I’ve also had plenty of beautiful and wonderful conversations about pregnancy with strangers and good friends alike. I’ll share those too, but I wouldn’t want to commingle them with these gems.
“You look [pick one: tired/bigger/chesty/enormous/blotchy] today.”
Surprise! Pregnant bodies look different from non-pregnant bodies. It’s one thing to talk about these changes with girlfriends but it’s a completely different ballpark when a stranger approaches you to provide an unsolicited critique of your pregnant body and state the obvious with the sole purpose of stating the obvious. After all, how often have you walked up to someone you didn’t know and told them that they look “enormous”? That’s right – probably not very often… because that’s not something you say to people you don’t know.
From personal experience, I can confidently say that whether it’s getting dressed in the morning, catching a glimpse of what I look like at 3am during the 15th trip to the bathroom that night, or going back to the store for a bigger bra (yet again)… it’s pretty much impossible to ignore the fact that my belly is growing, my body is working overtime, and my bosom is well, blossoming (nox chronicles – that one’s for you!).
I’m embracing the tired look as well as my new body – after all, rumor has it that your sleep patterns continue to change drastically after a new baby arrives. Plus, it’s been really fun to see my body change and reassuring to know that the baby is growing. To hear someone talk about these changes to your face like they’re a negative is downright obnoxious.
“Congrats… I didn’t know you were trying!” or “That’s great! [pause] Were you trying?”
This is a confusing and awkward thing to say. It’s hard to tell if the person is happy for you, disappointed, or wondering why they weren’t looped into this private information sooner. I’m not sure why it matters so much – what we want you to know is that we are pregnant now… and unless you skipped sex ed and live under a rock, it’s probably unnecessary for me to go into details about how it happened.
“Oh, natural childbirth? Good luck with that. You’ll be begging for drugs.”
Thanks for the… vote of confidence? Every couple is different; I respect everyone’s choices for childbirth no matter what, and ask for the same in return. While our birth plan does not include “begging for drugs” at any point, we are aware that plans and circumstances do change – and don’t worry, we have a Plan B.
Oh, let me tell you about [insert horror story about labor/childbirth here]. But you’ll do great! That totally won’t happen for you.
I want to hear your birth story – I really do! – but if it’s not a happy story, please don’t share it with me right now. I truly believe all birth stories should be shared at the appropriate time and place – they are incredibly formative experiences for mothers, fathers, and families in general. But walking up to a pregnant woman and sharing all of the details about your/your mom’s/your sister’s/your cousin’s less-than-ideal birth experience without being asked can be jarring for a first-time expectant mother. Personally, I would rather wait until we have a chance to create our own story before getting an unsolicited scare session.
The more we’ve learned through friends and hypnobirthing classes has helped me realize just how abundant negative stories about labor and childbirth are in our culture (especially those that come from Hollywood)! Being exposed to those types of attitudes for so long had really impacted my expectations for our baby’s birth, and it took a while for me to change my outlook.
So to all the strangers out there who are just itching to overshare – next time you think about word vomiting an awkward, offensive, prying or downright rude comment to a pregnant woman/couple… take a step back and think of the million other things you could ask. There are some pretty safe standbys to choose from – like if the baby is a boy or a girl, if there are names picked out, or when the baby is due. To be perfectly honest, I’d rather answer all of those questions over and over again than awkwardly bow out of talking about how we conceived… but thanks (I think?) for asking.