I am thoroughly convinced that I will always be pregnant. I will always and forever carry around a basketball-sized lump under my shirt. I will never again know what my feet look like while standing up. It will forever take an act of congress for me to roll over in bed at night. I will always have a tiny little foot weaseling its way in between my ribs. I will never again know the goodness of feta cheese, and I will never see my wonderful old skinny jeans again.
Ok, so maybe all of that is an exaggeration. In fact, it’s entirely possible that in a matter of 3 or 4 weeks, I will cease to be pregnant and begin being a full-time mom (!!??). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which both terrifies and excites me.
But even though I am so close to the end, the feelings of endlessness still remain. All you preggos out there know what I’m talking about – in fact, you could probably add a thousand more things to my list. But let me add just one more thing that feels like it will never, ever end: the never-ending comments of friends and complete strangers alike.
Yes, you know what I’m talking about. Words that would be rendered completely inappropriate in any other social situation suddenly become acceptable if you’re saying them to a pregnant woman. No one would dare make comments about my derriere to my face – but pop a baby in my belly, and suddenly my buttocks is up for all kinds of conversation.
So, in an attempt to help all of you who are searching for the right words to say to that preggo in your life, here are 4 things that you can go ahead and put on your list of things to NEVER say:
1. “Wow, you look really tired.”
Newsflash: If a woman looks tired, she probably already knows it. And it’s probably because (get ready) she is really tired. Perhaps even exhausted. There’s something kind of draining about a little dude mooching off of you 24/7, so it’s bound to show on the face of a mother-to-be at some point. As a matter of fact, I’ve never known any woman (including myself) who has appreciated when someone pointed out that she was tired – pregnant or not.
2. “Wow, you’re only how far along? You can’t possibly get much bigger, can you?”
I really shouldn’t have to explain this one – but personal experience tells me that I do. Every pregnancy is different, so it’s possible that one woman you meet might look differently than another women you’ve seen at the same stage of pregnancy. I guarantee you that whoever you say this to is already quite aware of her size and most likely has been or will be self-conscious about it at some point, or will even struggle with comparing herself to others. Implying that a woman is abnormally larger than her gestational age isn’t particularly helpful – so just nix comments like that.
3. “Wow, your face is getting so fat, you poor thing.”
Nope, I’m not making this one up. If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to bring a pregnant woman to tears, go ahead and say this to her. Seriously, what better way to tear a woman down and make her more self-conscious than she already is? I mean, the woman is only having her body completely taken over by a tiny, growing human being – you definitely can’t risk having her feel confident or beautiful. That would just be silly. How dare a woman gain weight in any place other than her belly – if she does, she immediately deserves your pity. So definitely make sure that you add the “poor thing” at the end – it’ll be the icing on the cake.
4. “Wow…is this because you’re pregnant?”
Another variation of this one might be, “It’s because she’s pregnant,” or, “Don’t worry, she’s just being pregnant.” There’s nothing more demeaning or frustrating than having your personal opinions, preferences, or thoughts completely disregarded all because you are pregnant. For example: If a pregnant woman is getting frustrated while she’s experiencing bad customer service, it can’t be because of the bad customer service – it has to be because she’s pregnant. Every emotion expressed is blamed on the hormones and is therefore rendered meaningless. Pregnancy isn’t a condition or sickness, so don’t treat it like one.
My motivation for writing this is two-fold: Part of me hopes that someone will read it and actually take these suggestions to heart. Pregnancy is a weird and wonderful thing – it’s constantly bouncing back and forth between feeling elated, proud, and honored to be carrying a life within you, and also coming to grips with, essentially, an entirely new body and learning how to live with and accept the new changes and decisions that lie ahead.
When your love for the life inside of you is growing as fast as your belly and you’re only just beginning to understand the sacrifices that are in the near future, it can be quite deflating when others choose to make comments to you about the superficial things.
The other motivator is to identify and be able to laugh at the ridiculous things people say to women who are “great with child.” People mean well, and you eventually just have to let these comments roll off your back. It is really quite comical to me how all mental filters seem to completely disappear when a pregnant woman is spotted. There’s something about a round belly that makes everyone feel like they are your best friend. People who, under “normal” circumstances, would never give you a second glance suddenly smile warmly at you and want to know all about your pregnancy. Honestly, I think I could be a serial killer and still have strangers bend over backwards for me because of my belly.
I’d be lying if I said that the comments of some people haven’t brought me to tears in the past 8 months. But I’d also be lying If I said that I didn’t enjoy the inquiries about how my little dude is doing or appreciate the kind, encouraging words of others.
At the end of the day, I know that most people genuinely have no ill-intentions with their words, and that there is just something about a pregnant woman that occasionally renders people senseless. The miracle of how a new life is formed, grown, and introduced into the world is just so astonishing that we all feel compelled to commentate on it – and sometimes we do that by stating the obvious or saying slightly inconsiderate things.
So if you see a pregnant lady and just can’t keep yourself from speaking up, go ahead and bypass any comments about her size or hormones and just let her know that she looks awesome – I guarantee you’ll make her day.