I’ve experienced a series of what you could call, unfortunate events.
Yesterday at the grocery store, a stranger told me I was so big that “this baby better get out soon because he’s going to mess up my hips”.
This past weekend, a stranger at a restaurant asked me if I was “sad that I’m having another boy and not a girl”. They said this in front of my entire family, including my two sons.
Then at Everett’s baseball game, a stranger told me a story about her friend who had six boys while trying for a girl, only to have her husband leave her and have a baby girl with another woman. “I’m sure that won’t happen to you,” she said.
Are you flabbergasted? I still am. Like I said, these are some unfortunate events.
Add this to the collection of others who feel the need to walk up to me, ask about my baby’s due date and gender, and proceed to tell me their horror pregnancy stories. Their emergency stories. Their near-death labor and delivery experiences. I don’t know why people do this, but they do indeed do it. They feel the openness and comfort level to talk, talk TALK to pregnant women. They wouldn’t do this to a stranger on the subway. I don’t think.
My response over the weekend was anger. “People should NOT speak to pregnant women!”, I told Stevie. “We aren’t dogs! Don’t come up and try to pet us and then say foolish things!” I contemplated not going out in public anymore, just to avoid any other triggering situations. Should women in their third trimester be subject to people’s verbal opinions on how they look?
Since the weekend has passed, I’ve had more time to think about it and I think I have actually learned a personally valuable lesson from all this.
I can learn from the hurtful things that people say to me. Because I am human, too, and just like my parents used to tell me when I was a little girl, I need to learn to THINK before I SPEAK.
Even though I was the target of these comments (or rather, my belly), the truth is that I don’t always think before I speak to someone, and as a result I could hurt someone’s feelings by carelessly remarking on something I don’t need to have an opinion on.
There is a reason pregnant women don’t want to tell people their chosen baby name, the baby’s gender, OR their due date. They don’t need to hear commentary from a stranger who isn’t invested in this baby. They don’t need to hear insensitive remarks. I didn’t need that over the weekend, as I felt puffier than ever and really, really tired.
This is such a lovely community of friends here, so I don’t share this because I feel attacked here. The opposite in fact. But I think we could all use the reminder (myself included) to do as our mothers told us when we were little, and THINK before we SPEAK. You never know how your own random words can seriously rattle someone, even if you walk away and don’t think a thing of it. That pregnant, hormonal woman (who knows exactly how big she looks, by the way), is most likely dealing with her own insecurities, fears and anticipation (as well as an array of discomforts!) and doesn’t need a strangers’ input/commentary.
If you see a pregnant woman and are desperate to say something to them because you just REALLY can’t help yourself, there are two appropriate things you can say:
1. How are you feeling?
2. You look wonderful!
That’s all! There is no need for you to follow up with your own stories or input. Because without even realizing it, that woman is definitely reading between the lines of what you’ve already said (pregnancy hormones make us extra sensitive!!!), so those few words are more than enough.
I share this today so that we can all be more aware and sensitive to those around us. Our words are powerful, they hold weight and they can make a difference in someone’s day. Today is a great day to brighten someone’s day with your powerful, KIND words!
P.S. - Just so you know, after that women’s comments at the grocery store, I stumbled upon an enormous, beautiful pre-lit Christmas wreath in the store, and I BOUGHT IT. So don’t feel bad for me - Costco seems to always have my back.