(Warning: today’s post is a bit of a rant…)
Sometimes in life, it can be helpful to turn to the classic Disney film, Bambi, to learn from the mistakes of one of its main characters: Thumper. Let me explain…
I was talking to a bunch of pregnant folks at an Infant CPR class and we exchanged stories about all of the horrible things people have said to us while we’re pregnant. A common question thrown at many of us: “Are you having twins?”
Seriously?! Don’t ever, ever ask a pregnant person how many babies they’re having – you will always be wrong. There are some of us, and by that I mean me, who carry our babies way out in front because we have very little space between where our ribs end and our hips begin. There’s just no place for the baby to hide. It’s going to look like we have an entire litter of babies inside of us. We know. You don’t need to remind us.
But the opposite question thrown at pregnant people who carry “small” is no better! People act shocked by how far along they might be in their pregnancy and ask: “Are you sure your baby’s healthy?”
What are you doing? And why?! These people tend to have nice, long torsos with plenty of room for their little peanuts to tuck in and hang out. And they’re entirely healthy, I might add.
But by all means, don’t ever make the mistake of asking someone if they’re pregnant in the first place. This is a huge no-no. If you think there might be a bump, you need to pretend to be a secret agent in a special Black Ops Unit and stealthily ask those within their “Inner Circle” what’s up – but never, ever ask the person directly.
There’s an episode from the TV show, “Malcolm In The Middle” that illustrates why you should avoid this at all costs. The Dad gets a new job and is walking around meeting all of his other office mates. He gets introduced to his boss, a woman who’s a little rounder in the middle, and then he does the unthinkable – he actually PATS her belly and asks, “And what do we have here?” To which she responds in an equally sing-song tone, “My big, fat belly!”
You don’t ever want to be that guy.
Which makes me break for the tangential but equally annoying rant: Why would having a baby in utero mean that I want complete strangers to touch, pat or rub my belly?
The group of us compared even more stories on this topic. Some involved the super cute and proud great grandma showing off the brand new baby bump to all the guests at a wedding! But there are some of us, and by that I mean me, who’ve felt almost assaulted when drunk people repeatedly tried to rub my very obvious belly at a music concert when I was pregnant with my first.
I decided to teach people a lesson about this years later. We were heading out to a Halloween party with the whole family. I’ve already shared that I carry “big” and this was my 4th baby, so I looked very pregnant at the time even though I was only four months along. I thought it would be “cute” to paint a jack-o-lantern on my protruding belly as it was already the size and shape of a small pumpkin!
But what I didn’t let anyone else know, is that I’d cut a hole in my white shirt and painted the orange and black jack-o-lantern directly onto my belly. I lost count of the number of people who felt the need to reach out and pat my belly at this party – but I got the last laugh as I watched them pull back their hands in horror at having felt my bare skin! (I have no idea if this had any lasting effect on them touching other pregnant people’s bellies in the future, but I’d like to think I did my part to make them think twice!)
In what other life circumstance would it be okay for random strangers to place their hands on someone else’s belly? Ick. Don’t do that. I’m surrounded by pregnant bellies all the time, but I can honestly say I’ve only ever touched a person’s belly when they’ve asked me specifically to do so (wondering if they’re having a real contraction, wanting confirmation of the position of their baby, etc.)
Really, it’s not that difficult.
When you notice that someone might be pregnant – don’t say anything, just smile at them. They’re pretty used to it. People notice their belly and smile at them all the time – because they’re a beacon of hope and light for the world! It comes with the territory, so a smile can be enough. If you must say something, comments like, “You look great!” or “You’re doing a great job!” are always welcomed.
P.S. – These comments also work wonders for people who: have recently given birth, haven’t had a shower in a couple of days, are really trying to get the hang of this breast/chestfeeding thing, are super sad about going back to work, feel super guilty about not feeling super sad about going back to work, are still wearing their pants 1-2 sizes up in the early postpartum period, find themselves both loving and hating being at home with the baby… You get the idea.
Becoming a parent – all the way from the first signs of a positive pregnancy test until the child is grown and out of the house – is a time of self-doubt and questioning. Don’t add to that, if possible. Okay?
When you’re in doubt, just remember what Thumper says in the movie, Bambi – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Pregnant folks around the world will thank you for your self-restraint!
Ever experience cringe-worthy comments while you were pregnant? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?