I chose to write this well after the arrival of my daughter to ensure I wouldn’t be going off on a rant fueled by hormones and lack of oxygen (it was really tough to breathe towards the end). Combined with my Cuban temper, it would’ve only made for a lethal dose of snark. But now that Lucy is well on the other side of the belly, I feel it’s safe to share my biggest pet peeves over the last few months (though I can’t guarantee it will be completely snark-free).
FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO A PREGNANT WOMAN. EVER. Seriously.
1) TWINS! I was enjoying a trip to the supermarket during my second trimester when an old man stopped, looked me dead in the eye, pointed at my belly and declared, “Twins!” I vehemently denied it but he seemed unconvinced. I think the most frustrated thing was that I was only 6 months pregnant. I assured him I’d seen the sonogram, but he still walked away shrugging. When I say one is enough, I truly mean it. Don’t go proclaiming multiples to a woman who’s just starting to fathom that a person she hasn’t met yet wants to squeeze out of her lady parts. Let alone, two.
2) OH MY GOD, YOU’RE HUGE! A naive sales girl at Home Depot threw this one at me before asking me if it was twins (see above). I waved her off and pushed my cart along while resisting the urge to grab a wrench and knock her off her ladder. Trust me, we know we’re huge. We’ve got mirrors we can barely fit our reflection into. Our bodies are not our own for a good 9 months (sometimes more). The very last thing we need reminding of is how swollen our feet/belly/waistline have gotten. We know it because we can’t breathe when we sleep, shave our own legs, or tie our own shoe laces. Hell, we can barely drive our cars for lack of access to the steering wheel. So don’t tell us what we already know unless you’re ready to have the next available blunt object projected at your head.
3) MY LABOR WAS AWFUL! LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT! This seemed to be a running theme at my OB/GYN’s office. The younger or more inexperienced the mom-to-be, the more the other experienced mothers wanted to share their horror stories. I don’t know if it was a badge-of-honor type thing or a desire to scare the bejesus out of first-timers just for sport. But it seemed that my waiting room hours were always filled with tales of the many different ways this “natural experience” could go wrong. Now that I’ve survived it, I know each labor is different and whatever is going to happen will happen and you just have to go with it and trust your doctor and nurses. And NOTHING anyone shares with you will make a lick of difference other than to cause unnecessary anxiety. So, for God’s sake. Just shut the eff up for that hour or spend your time talking about something useful, like how to get a baby to sleep through the night. K, thanks.
4) SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN! This is probably one of the most obnoxious things I heard throughout the duration of my pregnancy. While it was mostly said in good fun, many times it was said in that matter-of-fact tone some older parents enjoy using. The kind of parents who no longer have babies in the house. The one’s who’ve long since been out of this really difficult phase. So they forget that, as it is, pregnant women rarely sleep. Our bodies are being prepared for what’s to come. So while our spouses snore softly into the early morning hours, we’re on our fourth bathroom trip trying to catch a wink. We already know what it’s like to function on little to no sleep. We don’t need any forewarning. We know what we’re in for and having you remind us won’t make it any easier. What we need is a spa day and a guarantee that you’ll babysit when the little critter is here so we can do a little catching up on some much-deserved rest.
5) YOU SHOULD REALLY BREASTFEED/DO NATURAL LABOR/ANYTHING ELSE. Never tell a pregnant woman she has to do anything. She’s already busy making a human being. That’s good enough to let her stay on the couch and do nothing else for the duration of the pregnancy if she damn well pleases. Outside of that, she will do what she does when the baby is here and that’s that. Everyone parents differently. Every mom gets to choose what she feels is right for her delivery and baby. And telling her she must do something because it worked for you is incredibly obnoxious. Never impose your practices on others in general. It’s just rude and annoying. It’s fine to offer help – she’ll take it because parenting for the first time is REALLY scary! – but don’t assume that what worked for you is the only right way to do things. It’s just not the case and makes you come off all know-it-all-y. And nobody likes a know-it-all.
BONUS: (Postpartum) YOU LOOK LIKE YOU STILL HAVE A BABY IN THERE! As a general rule of thumb, offering anything but praise to a woman who’s carrying a baby is just bad form. But telling a woman who’s recently been through labor that she still looks like she’s got a bun in the oven is probably the cruelest thing you can do. Caring for a baby is really hard work. We run on caffeine, wine, and prayer. And that’s just to get through the first half of the day. So don’t go mouthing off about losing the weight to a woman who requires strict planning just to get a daily shower in. The weight will eventually come off. And unless you’re a personal trainer who can offer genuine expert assistance, you’re just being rude and speaking out of turn. Try to focus on the fact that she’s just managed to push a human being out of places barely sized for a tampon. When’s the last time you went to the gym, anyway?
What are some of your pet peeves? Have you heard any terrible comments directed at pregnant women? I’d love to hear all the juicy details. And feel free to rant in the comments!