I wrote this the day I went into the hospital. I’m no longer pregnant but I stand by every word!
I feel like going through pregnancy has given me a small glimpse into the life of a celebrity. Not because of my adoring fans, though there are many, but because people (often perfect strangers) don’t seem to think there’s anything off limits. Now, if I had the paycheck of a celebrity perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much but I don’t and I do (mind, that is).
So, here’s some friendly advice for the non-pregnant:
- If you stare at a pregnant lady’s belly, the least you can do is smile. I can’t tell you how many times people have stared at my bulging belly as I walk by as if they’ve never seen a pregnant woman before. Now, there are those who look adoringly for an appropriate amount of time – to you, I say “thanks” – but to the rest of you, if you must follow the belly and stare I suggest you throw in a smile.
- Don’t ever use the words “big”, “huge” or “enormous”. One would think this is a given, common sense. One would think. It’s not. My 8 year old niece has more tact than a lot of adults. She has watched my belly grow over the months and is quite intrigued (as are the people who stare, apparently) but she always comments on how “the baby” is growing. I’m perfectly ok with that. But, please, refrain from calling a pregnant lady huge. It’s just plain rude.
- While we’re at it… don’t suggest that the doctor somehow missed the number of babies floating around in there! So, you thought you were having one baby but somehow one of your babies was hiding behind the other and they missed it in all of your ultrasounds and dopplers. That’s an incredible story. Really, it is. But, it’s most likely not my story. And if it is, just let it go and let me have my moment when I find out instead of carrying one beautiful baby I’ve been carrying five (because based on your stares that’s how many you actually think are in there)! Seriously, though, if a woman is having twins or triplets or octuplets she will most likely tell you. If she doesn’t, she probably has a reason. There is no need to damage her already fragile self-esteem by suggesting she’s carrying a litter.
- Tell her how great she looks. I get it, not all pregnant women look great. When I first found out I was pregnant, I prayed to God that I wouldn’t be one of those women that just didn’t look good pregnant, the one that everyone feels sorry for. I always dreamed about being an adorable pregnant lady. Unfortunately, I’m as big as a house (in my words, you may not use them) and I’m probably not that cute but I really don’t need to know that. In spite of being pretty big, most days I feel pretty good about myself. I take the time to do my makeup and dress as cute as I possibly can. Not that these things are super important but they help me to feel good about myself and that is important. So, there’s nothing more discouraging than hearing someone say, “now that is huge and uncomfortable”. Yes. That actually happened to me, just last week, when I was 39 weeks and 5 days wearing a cute dress, heels, makeup and my hair was brushed (not washed but brushed). I was fairly proud of myself that day and actually felt pretty good. Hearing someone refer to me as “huge and uncomfortable” was deflating, to say the least. I’m not saying you should lie to a pregnant woman and tell her she’s radiant when she looks like she’s had some type of allergic reaction that caused her to swell like a blowfish. But, surely, there is something you can complement – her hair, her outfit (it’s not easy finding clothes to wear, so the fact that she’s wearing clothes should probably be acknowledged), her nails, her makeup – find something nice to say and say it!
- Encourage her. So, you think it’s absurd that your bff wants to cloth diaper or doesn’t want an epidural or plans to go back to work after 6 weeks. How does your telling her so or making fun of her benefit her? I’ll tell you… it doesn’t. Not one bit. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions. Perhaps there’s something she’s overlooking in her plan. Maybe you can bring some wisdom but, ultimately, it’s her baby, her body, her decision. The best thing you can do is simply encourage her.
Basically, don’t forget all the things your mama taught you when it comes to dealing with a pregnant lady – be kind, do unto others, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all!