What You've Always Wanted to Ask But Shouldn't

Dear Diary,

Let me preface this post by saying that I am a bit of a touchy person. Overly sensitive to nosy questions and personal space violations. I am well aware of this, as I'm sure are my friends and family. Let me also preface it by saying that I'm sure I have been guilty of all the violations listed below. But since becoming pregnant, I've encountered more nosiness than usual. So I've decided to provide some guidelines about things you should and should not ask or say to a pregnant woman. As a public service. So, here we go.

Were you trying to get pregnant? This is absolutely, positively, none of anyone's business. (THAT MEANS YOU, MOTHERS IN LAW. Yes, mine actually asked that when we told her we were expecting. What. The. Fuck.) Do not ask a pregnant woman this, unless you could be the father.

Do you know what day you conceived? I actually had someone ask me this. Get a life.

Do you know if it's a boy or girl? Asking about the sex is OK, in my opinion. What is not ok is telling your pregnant daughter that you don't want to know the sex, when the rest of the family and the entire world knows. Puts her in the awkward position of feeling guilty if she lets it slip, and having to worry about what she says around you. Just get over it or plug your ears, mmmkay?

Do you have a name? This is a bit of an awkward question for us to answer. We had a name picked out pretty early on, but we weren't revealing it. This required me to either 1) lie and say that we hadn't decided or 2) say that we had chosen one but weren't disclosing it, which just sounds... pretentious. But my family is totally weird and all oh my god, do not tell us the name. Fine, whatever. So I've told some people, and not other people, and it's just stupid. So I'm going to go ahead and advise not to ask about names. What's the point? You'll find out eventually, I promise.

How are you feeling? How's the (insert common pregnancy complaint)? I have close friends and family who are frequent offenders here. Basically, my advice is to not ask if you don't want to hear a negative response.

For many women (well, not Angelina Jolie) pregnancy is uncomfortable. There can be nausea, indigestion, heartburn, back pain, foot pain, exhaustion, headaches, shortness of breath, palpitations, craziness, general fatness, oh, and a rather large parasite thrashing about in your normally pear-sized uterus. I suppose people ask how you are just to make conversation. And granted, the polite thing to do as a pregnant woman, I suppose, is to simply say that you're feeling fine, thanks for asking.

But if I'm not feeling fine and I decide to be honest, please do not say something irritatingly positive like "It's all worth it" or "But it will be over soon and you'll have a BABY! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeal!!!!!!" Um, duh. You may think this makes me feel better, when in fact it makes me feel like an asshole for complaining. Rest assured I am very grateful for being pregnant and excited about becoming a parent. No need to point out the silver lining; I SEE IT. Doesn't mean I can't say that I feel like shit sometimes. And if you don't want to hear that, don't ask me how I am.

Also never, ever, tell a woman experiencing pregnancy nausea not to worry, that it will go away by such and such a week. Really? Thank you, expert on my particular pregnancy! True, for many women nausea abates by the end of the first trimester. Not for all women. And oh my god, please don't say, "Wow, I'm surprised you still feel sick." Um, SO AM I. What, do you think I'm faking? Pregnancy just doesn't agree with some digestive systems, nuff said.

Did you get genetic testing? I would advise against asking about this. I think it's a pretty personal decision and a possibly touchy subject.

Size/Weight Comments: Do not comment on a pregnant woman's size or how much weight she has or has not gained, period. Just say, "You look great!" even if she doesn't, and leave it at that. Trust me, you cannot win here.

Childbirth Methods: None of your business what kind of childbirth a pregnant woman is planning to have (midwife, hospital, squatting against a tree, ether, goofballs, whatever.) I'm sure you have an opinion on this, and rest assured she doesn't care what it is unless she asks.

Are you going to breastfeed? I'm not sure why this is anyone's business. Sort of a weird thing to ask; I'd stay away from this one. Future breastfeeding moms will reach out to those from whom they want advice on their own. In fact, pregnant women who want advice about anything will probably ask for it.

Are you going to have the baby circumcised? I suppose some people are genuinely curious about this issue. And I would like to ask those people to please stop thinking about my son's penis.



Southern Fried Girl said...

May we also discuss the unwanted and UNINVITED taps, pats, and rubs of the belly?

That is not okay.

Or better yet, when you say you are tired, you get (from other mothers of course) "oh that's just the beginning."

Great, thanks.


Bailey said...

Ha ha.. I agree completely. I'm the first person who is pregnant while employed by my companmy and am, therefore, a walking science experiment. I think someone has said every single one of those things to me and I am getting very sick of it. With the names thing, I've tried just leaving it at "Yes" when people asked me if we have names picked out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Cindy said...

People are funny, aren't they? Well, maybe not so funny. My boss kept asking how I was feeling and would then immediately apologize. I figured, hell, once the baby is born, no one is going to give a rip about how I feel, so I might as well wallow in the concern.

Me said...

It must feel great to be saying "my son's" anything, even if it is my son's penis here.


Mel said...

I haven't ever commented, but this post made me want to. I had a very similar list of of questions I really loathed while I was pregnant. What I mostly hated was that people offered so much unsolicited advice, and apparently seemed to relish telling me horror stories or the "just wait" stories. My favorite answer to the question, "So, do you know what it is going to be?" I'd say, "Human, probably, but who knows, maybe a whole litter of puppies?"

Anonymous said...