So pregnancy is a vulnerable time for women. I’ve taken in stride all the comments I’ve gotten and most of them even made me laugh at the time, but sometimes, I really have wanted to punch people. Why does pregnancy make people say stuff that is meant to be funny but is mostly rude and insensitive?
I’ve been thinking about it lately, and I’ve decided to write out the things I’ve learned throughout this time in my life…things that I will not be saying to pregnant women in the future, and things I WILL be saying…because when people say them (and believe me, they are so few and far between), it feels like a healing balm to my soul that partly makes up for the jabs and well-meaning ribbing from everyone else.
Things NOT to say:
1. Are you sure you’re not having twins? Seriously. How is this ever okay? I can’t count how many people have jokingly asked me this, and I’m not even that big. Sure, I’m huge according to my old body and what I looked like before, but in all reality, I’m a pretty average pregnant woman…so I can’t imagine the comments to women who have a shorter torso and stick out even more than I do. Never. Never, never under any circumstances, ask a pregnant woman this. Even if she’s about to fall forward from the gravitational pull of how huge her belly is. Bite your tongue, people. Trust me on this, she might laugh, but inside, she wants to smack you really hard.
2. Are you STILL pregnant!? The correct answer is, “What? No! I left my baby at home. This is just a few extra pounds I’ve been trying to get rid of.” *eye roll* There’s really no good response to this.
3. All natural, huh? Wait till you feel that first pain. I know I don’t know what I’m getting into. I know it’s going to be hard. I know I will want that epidural and who knows, I might get it in the end. But don’t discourage me from wanting to try, okay?
4. Insert gory, horrible birth story. I know you want to prepare us for the worst. Or some other good motive. Maybe you just want to tell your (or your friend/cousin/sister-in-law’s) horrible story for the sake of seeing my horrified face. But please…please resist the urge to horrify right now. Tell someone that’s not pregnant. We’re already scared enough, thank you very much. And fear is such a bad thing when you’re going into labor. I’m convinced it’s one of the things that causes some of the complications and unending labors these days. Our culture needs more positive birth stories…tell the pregnant ladies THOSE stories. And if you don’t know any, just don’t tell her any stories at all.
5. Better enjoy your sleep now because you’ll never sleep again! Please give me tips on how to help my baby sleep so I can sleep…don’t just say such a negative thing. I already treasure what little sleep I’m getting and the thought of not sleeping for days on end scares me. Or better yet, keep your advice and just remind me it’s a stage and that I’ll figure things out…we get tons of advice, trust me.
Things to say:
1. You look so good! We really like hearing this. Because we looked in the mirror that morning and we know how we look. We feel huge and bloated and sometimes it feels like you’re not even in your own body anymore. So just tell us we look beautiful, okay? We know it’s not true but we like hearing it anyway.
2. You’re going to be such a good mom. Being a mom scares me more than all the rest combined. I’m going to make so many mistakes. There’s the fear of irreparably damaging your child. So hearing that someone thinks we’ll do a good job, it makes us feel better.
3. Your labor is going to go well, you’re going to do just wonderful. I’ve only ever heard this from my childbirth class instructor but it’s a positive statement I keep close to my heart. I claim it as truth.
4. Instead of telling the pregnant lady nearing her due date all the things she could be doing to induce labor, how about being that one person that tells her to relax. Instead of telling her how to get the baby out ASAP, tell her something like, “Relax, my dear. Enjoy these last few days or weeks with your husband. Spend special time with him and focus on being quiet and alone with him. Go out on a few dates together. Slow down and enjoy the kicks/hiccups/rolls from your little baby inside and treasure the fact that soon, you won’t be able to feel him in there anymore. You’ll miss that part, if nothing else. Don’t focus on how miserable you feel, focus on the miracle happening inside you and just relinquish the need to control the timing. Trust in God and your body to do what is necessary in the exact right time. You want your baby to be ready and that is when he will come. Don’t rush and stress and be anxious. Let go. Everything is going to be okay.”
One of the bigger crimes of humanity is not being able to enjoy the stage we’re in. We’re always wishing for the next stage and then longing for the past at the same time. For example, I really want to have my baby right now. But once he’s out, I’m pretty sure I’ll want to put him back at some point. 😀 Maybe the secret to happiness is ignoring what we want that we can’t have right now and just focusing on how much we have right now. If I truly enter the moment of now and enjoy this time when I’m as big as an elephant but really have so much to be thankful for, if I focus on the happy things in my life and give God thanks for them now…maybe I’ll be able to enter into the newborn stage fully as well and not want to put him back so much. Maybe God is trying to teach us to enjoy the waiting for the next stage. Maybe there’s joy in the waiting.
So to recap: just tell the pregnant ladies out there that they’re beautiful and that everything will be okay. We need all the peaceful life spoken into us that we can get. So now you know what to say and not to say to us. Go forth and act/speak accordingly. You’re welcome. 🙂
Thanks to Rosetta Schwartz and Quido for inspiring these thoughts and my husband for the title. 😛