14 June 2012

Things Better Left Unsaid

It is astounding how unintentionally rude people can be to pregnant women!  (For charity's sake, we're going to assume that it is, in fact, unintentional.)  I'm sure many, if not most, moms have their own stories of shocking or hurtful things people have said to them during pregnancy.  You know, the sort of things that leave you pondering for a moment whether cutting out tongues is really cruel and unusual punishment?

One thing that has really gotten to me all through this pregnancy has been the unmarried, childless people with no medical background who ask if we found out the baby's sex, and barely waiting for me to respond, remind me that ultrasound predictions aren't always accurate and we really can't know...  I'm sorry, but why did you ask?  I started just saying, "We aren't entirely sure," months ago to try to head off these comments, and even that didn't work.

The insensitivity seemed to pick up with the arrival of the third trimester, and now that I'm finally down to the last few weeks, I've compiled a few of the most common offenders.  Do. Not. Say. These. Things. to a pregnant woman.

5) "You haven't had the baby yet!"
Really? I hadn't noticed; thank you so much for enlightening me... make sure you keep reminding me every day so that I'll know when the baby comes, okay?

4) "What is the baby's name? You've decided on a name, right? Come on, what is it? You can tell me! Why won't you tell me? I don't believe that you don't actually have one picked - you're just holding out on us. What is it?"
Some couples really do decide not to tell people the baby's name until after the birth. Some couples are really bad about procrastinating.  And some of the ones from the second category are happy that the first category exists, so they can use that as their excuse... Either way, badgering the mom-to-be isn't going to get you anything other than a frustrated woman, so just give it up!  Note: Many couples do decide early, and don't mind sharing the name, so it's fine to ask! Just don't be a jerk about it if you've been told once that they aren't telling.

3) "Enjoy getting a full night's sleep while you still can; you're not going to be getting much soon."
I have a fun game for you: duct tape a 15-20 lb watermelon to your lower abdomen, such that it's pressing on your pelvis and the tape is cutting into your lower back muscles, before you go to bed tonight.  Have your spouse wake you up every two hours to use the bathroom by poking you sharply in the ribs.  Oh, and you're only allowed to lay on your left side.  Let me know how much sleep you get!

2) "Labor is going to be torture! Mine lasted XX hours and they had to..."
Stop. Just stop. Filling the head of a woman who is approaching labor with horror stories about the very worst things that could go wrong is simply unacceptable, and has a good chance of making her own labor worse than it has to be by starting her off stressed and unable to relax.  This is not just insensitive: it's cruel.

1) "Oh my gosh, you're huge!"
I know that.  Really, I do.  My husband has been doing his best to convince me that it's not true, and I definitely don't believe him...  Would you say this to a woman who wasn't pregnant? No? Then how is it appropriate to say to one who is?  The best response I've heard to this comment is unfortunately one I would feel guilty for using, although there have certainly been times I've wanted to: At least I'm pregnant; what's your excuse?  Variations on this comment include "Are they moving your due date up?" and "Are you sure there's just one in there?"

Bear in mind that, as always, the lessons we learned as kids still apply a great deal in our adult lives:  If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!  This rule applies to the pregnant mom as well, but try to make it easier on us, please?  Before you say something that could be insensitive, think!

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