I don't know what it is about a pregnant belly, but it seems that whenever people get close to one, their minds go numb, their mouths go renegade, and they can't help but say whatever random thought pops into their head. It's like, "Oooh, aaah, big shiny orb -- dribble, dribble." Often, it's women feeling nostalgic about their own pregnancies, which I can appreciate. As for other folks? Well, I'm thinking that maybe the fetus is actually a brain-power-stealing succubus, making those nearby all googly while he grows his own baby-genius mind. Just a theory ....
Anyway, as any pregnant woman knows, once you're with child, it seems like everyone's got something to say. And while it's often with the best intentions, some people don't seem to realize that they're talking to a very hormonal, uncomfortable, and extremely hungry woman-on-the-verge, whose emotions are so whacked out that she'll either burst into tears or cut you. Right now, it's not a good time!
And yet, at around 8 or 9 months pregnant, when you're as big as a house and you're not sleeping and you're suddenly hit with the looming reality that you're soon going to be pushing 7-some-odd-pounds of baby out of your hoo-ha (or have the little one sliced out of you), that's exactly when people really start to say what you don't want to hear. Some examples ...
- "Wow, you're so big!" Unless you're a body builder on the juice or a 4-year-old on his birthday, nobody, nobody, nobody wants to hear just how ginormous they've gotten. We pregnant mamas have mirrors, we have pants that no longer fit, we have big 'ole bellies that knock over T-shirt displays as we're sliding through the racks at the store. Did you think we hadn't noticed? Yes, our behemoth tummies are a sign of the growing, healthy baby (or babies) inside, so hell yeah, we want that belly to grow! But, if you have to say something, maybe just comment on our glowing skin or shiny hair or adorable maternity outfit instead.
- "Wow, you're so small" This one ain't much better, only instead of making the prego woman feel like she needs to lay off the taco combos, she starts worrying that maybe her baby isn't growing enough, that she looks unhealthy, that you're passing judgment on her tiny frame, the subtext being, "Eat something!"
- "Enjoy it while you can, because pretty soon, you won't be leaving the house again." Can't an expectant couple revel in a nice dinner out or a date night without feeling like it's their last meal? Yes, parents-to-be know that their lives are about to change, and are already thinking about who can baby sit, calculating exactly when they might be able to leave the baby for more than a couple of hours, hoping and praying that they have the kind of infant who can hang at restaurants. We know, we know, best laid plans and all of that -- every couple probably thinks they can still make socializing a regular thing. Some clearly can, some clearly can't. But for now, please let us hold on to the dream.
- "Boys, yeah, you're going to have your hands full." Sure, maybe as a rule, boys tend to be more active, but wild, untameable maniacs? I'm not buying it. Even so, the warning doesn't change anything. Like, what am I going to do? See if I can exchange these guys for a couple of sweet little angels, otherwise known as, girls? No, these are my little monkeys, this is what we got, and I'm going to love them EVEN when they're climbing the bookcases and sitting on the dog and clubbing the walls with their Nerf bats. And, of course, they always tack on that boys love their Mommies too, I guess so you don't walk away feeling like you totally got screwed in the baby gender department?
- "Let me tell you about my horrible, traumatic labor..." Of course, that's not normally how one segues into their L&D story. No, no, they might ask you something simple like, "So do you have a birth plan?" and then, next thing you know, they've launched full-throttle into a story about their 36 hours of labor, followed by 3 hours of pushing, an epidural that got put in wrong, poop on the table, horrible tearing followed by an episiotomy, a husband who threw up, meconium in the baby's face. And then, finally, just when you're ready to call up your doctor and see if you can do this whole thing under total, wake-me-when-it's-over anesthesia, the woman ends her story with, "But really, it wasn't so bad."
- "I'm surprised you're still walking around." While my swollen tree-trunk legs, arched back and exaggerated waddle might lead you to believe otherwise, no, I will not topple over with a thunk and a "Tiiiiiimber!" But it's good to know why it is that people seem to be giving me a wide berth.
- "Well, Johnny had colic and would cry for six hours straight." As expectant parents, we want to believe that our babies will be "good babies" who will sleep through the night, eat well, and cry with clear intentions about what it is they want. We all want a baby we can reason with. Of course, you get what you get and it's not really in your control. But I guarantee that almost all expectant parents listen to those "witching hours" stories and, in the back of their brain, think, "Nah, we'll do the swaddling and the shushing and be totally fine." If not, they're thinking, "Holy mother-loving, crap stick! Six hours of crying and wailing? That happens?! Please no!!!" So, people, if your goal isn't to scare the couple, what's the point of even mentioning it?
- "Twins?! You're going to have your hands full!" Yep, thank you, we're well aware. Double newborns means double the feedings, double the diaper changes, double the crying and fussing. If I had to guess, I'd say that these people had enough trouble with one newborn, so they can't imagine how a person can do it with two. We have no choice but to get the job done, and trust me, we're just as terrified as you think we'd be.
- "You HAVE to co-sleep/breastfeed/feed on demand." Expectant couples are entering into parenthood with the best intentions -- we want to do exactly the right thing for our babies. Problem is, we're hearing it from a million different sources and every parent has their own definition of the "right" and "wrong" way. Our heads are spinning, really! At the end of the day, we won't know what's best for our own baby until we get there, so as much as we may appreciate the advice, please don't attach any "you have to do it my way" judgment to it. And please accept our, "We'll have to just see ..." as a reasonable answer.
- "You're going to have another helping of ice cream?" Never, ever, under any circumstances do you mess with a pregnant woman while she's feeding. Would you disrupt a hungry lion preying on a wildebeest? When it comes to food, some pregnant chicks reach a point where they become rabid, ravenous animals on a mission -- a mission to find the nearest cheeseburger, make double fudge brownies, finish that whole pint of mint chip, thank you. Stand in her way, or dare to judge, and she may just gut you with her cold ice cream spoon.
Any of this sound familiar? What did you hate hearing when you were pregnant?
Image via johnsnape/Flickr