Flashback Friday - "When's your baby due?"

Disclaimer:  Once again, I can't speak for women on whole, but I'm a woman, and I know how I feel, so I'm speaking for myself. If you happen to agree, please let me know because you make me feel [slightly more] normal.

Most women I know who've endured the throes of pregnancy, delivery, and a rebounding postpartum body have at least one example of a time when someone said something hurtful to them about their size, status, and/or stature.  It might have been something someone meant as a joke, like, "Whoa!  You sure you don't have twins in there?!"  (By the way, that's not funny.)  It might have been a facial expression, like when someone asked you when you were due and you said, "I've got three more months", and then they give you the saucer eyes that suggested they thought you were going to deliver right there in the middle of the grocery store before you even made it to checkout - because - you know - you were that big.

For me, it happened after I delivered my firstborn.  Bless his crying little heart.  I'd had enough of his 24/7 outrage and opted to clear my head for an hour or so.  I went to get a very much needed haircut.  I sat in the chair, chatted with the stylist, and the subject of the baby came up.

Then she said it, "When are you due?"

Despite my raging postpartum hormones and the tears that welled up in my eyes, I calmly and quietly replied, "Ten days ago."

She was confused for a second, then she realized her error.  

Then, she apologized profusely.

I made it to the car before I all-out sobbed from the apparent fact that I still looked oh-so-very pregnant.  

In light of that oh-so-fun-to-remember trip to the stylist that happened nearly seven years ago (and yet remains a vivid memory of mine), I've come up with a few suggestions for those of you who feel compelled to say such things to women, pregnant or not.

Jennie's Guide to Not Offending a Woman with Respect to her Potentially Pregnant Body 

1.  Never, ever, ever ask a woman if she's pregnant.
You can ask her husband privately (knowing you run the risk of him mentioning it to her later which won't be good for either of you).  You can ask her friends.  You can ask everyone on earth.  But DO NOT ask her.  Even if she weighs 85 pounds and looks like she literally has a basketball shoved underneath her shirt.  This is not a mistake you want to make.  It's a question you'll forget that you asked 10 seconds later, but a question she won't forget being asked for 10 years (if you're lucky).  

2.  Never, ever, ever ask a woman "how many" babies she is carrying.  
Again, I can't speak for everyone else, but I'm a big gainer when I'm pregnant.  The least I've gained in three pregnancies was 26 pounds and I worked oh-so-very hard at it.  The thing is, I still looked like I had gained about 62 pounds.  I looked and felt like a beached whale.  While I'm sure it was fun for other people to speculate that there were surely sextuplets in there, it wasn't fun for the beached whale.  Beached whales have feelings too - violent ones.  Do not tick off a beached whale.

3.  Don't give backhanded compliments to pregnant women.
While I'm sure it was well-intentioned, your compliment about how good someone looks "this pregnancy" carries with it the insinuation "but you looked like a beached whale with the other ones".  Pregnant women don't hear the compliment part.  They just remember looking and feeling like a beached whale.  And then there are more tears.  You don't want to be the one who makes a pregnant woman cry.

4.  Hands off.
Please don't touch pregnant bellies.  In general.  But especially don't do it if you're not sure whether they are indeed pregnant or not.  Because then you run the risk of being that weirdo who touches non-pregnant bellies.  Do you really want that reputation?

I will conclude this little tirade now, but not without saying that sometimes a woman might want to wear a cute, new empire-waisted peasant top to work on casual Friday without being point-blank asked if she's pregnant.  Especially when said woman has been working out and was finally coming to terms with her post-three babies body.  And especially when the shirt was so forgiving after a big meal at the Mexican joint.  Dang it.

Guess "she" will be burning this shirt.

For kicks - here's a pregnant Jennie picture.  (I felt the need to caption it so you won't mistake it for a beached whale.)

I believe the facial expression can best be summed up with, "I will punch you in the teeth if you comment on my size."

P.S. - I do apologize for the tone.  I have had three very blessed pregnancies, deliveries, and beautiful babies.  I recognize these all for the gifts that they were.  I have worked very hard not to spiral out of control with my weight both during and following my pregnancies.  It just really does hurt in the midst of that for someone to ask that question.  Pregnancy does not offend me.  Being asked if I'm pregnant...kind of does.  Here's a promise, if I want you to know whether I'm pregnant or not, I will tell you.  

For the record, I am not.

With that, I hope you all have an excellent weekend.  See you on the flip side.


Neisha said...

You always have the ability to say things that my crazy mind is racing to say, but cannot seem to say it as well as you :)

Diane said...

Oh, Jennie... I thoroughly agree! and I laughed at items 1-3... and felt justifiably furious for you at the end of item #4. And I'm so sorry.

you look wonderful - you really do! And we want to see a blog next week that celebrates JENNIE.

Anonymous said...

Being that I am currently 7+ months pregnant, and feeling very much like a beached whale these days, this made my Friday. I have not had a single person lately look at me when I walk into the room and say anything short of, "Wow, you have really popped", or "are you sure it's just one baby in there." Yes, I have had a sonogram every 2 weeks since I was 18 weeks along; I am POSITIVE there is only one baby in there. And though I may LOOK HUGE to you, I keep referring back to pictures from my last pregnancy, and I am not, in-fact, that much bigger. Lastly, everytime I go to the doctor and they put that measuring tape on my belly, it says I am right where I should be--Medical confirmation that I am not insanely huge :).

So I feel you Jennie. But it's even sadder to me that you had such experiences when you were not pregnant. I didn't go out in public much for a while after I had Sofia, and luckily, I worked from home at that point, so there were no more insensitive and stupid co-workers or strangers that I crossed paths with often to make that mistake. But it really does make you want to scream some days; thay anyone would be so presumptuous.

Have a wonderful Friday and I'm sure you look amazing in your forgiving empire wasted top!

Denise said...

Oh Jenny, I feel so bad for you!! I'll just bet your top is simply adorable (a new birthday shirt?). Some people just don't know cute style and certainly lack manners. When my Kathryn was in preschool she wore corrective shoes. (Not very attractive and VERY heavy) One little girl asked her why she wore such ugly shoes. She responded that maybe her mother should teach her some manners! Enough said.

However, I personally have made a comment to someone after they had their baby and have NEVER forgotten how hurt she looked. I was SOOOO embarrassed!! Still cringe when I think of it today. (Learned my lesson and haven't done it again).

I think you look fabulous and I say keep the shirt!

Debbie said...

Aw... that would have made me want to cry and and then, it would have ticked me off.

Don't listen to Miss More-Mouth-Than-Sense!

I remember when I was expecting Laura and hadn't told anyone. One day, I was wearing something that made me feel like I was probably showing a little. I was more convinced that it did when some of my students kept looking at my belly as I was at the chalkboard.

About a week later, I decided to spill the beans, and one girl said that she had "thought" so but that her mother had told her not to DARE ask.

Smart mom.

I was always the kind who got the comments because I was always ALL baby. (Actually, it never bothered me because for the first time in my adult life, I wasn't ALL butt.)

People used to ask me if I was having triplets. No kidding.

I had a strange older man come up to me in a store and say that he JUST HAD to touch my belly because he had never seen so much baby. I just sort of stood there like a science exhibit too taken by surprise to do anything.

Good grief.

amy said...

Ahh,don't get me started. A friend of mine has a rule: "Never ask a woman if she's pregnant unless she is, at that moment, crowning."

That's a good rule.

I learned my lesson when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and my aunt was pregnant. My aunt is a heavy woman, who carries it in the belly-(unfortunate family trait, sadly)- and I THOUGHT I remembered someone had said she was pregnant. A few years earlier, when she'd had her first baby, I was astonished, because I had thought she was too old (she was probably 30- ha ha), so as I reached to touch her belly, I suddenly thought "Oh no! She can't POSSIBLY be pregnant again, I probably heard that wrong!" and I snatched my hand away. Luckily, she WAS in fact pregnant, and said "It's ok, sweetie, you can touch the baby."

Whew! But I have never forgotten the feeling of panic, and I have it EVERY time I'm tempted to ask a woman if she's knocked up.

Lorilynne said...

I have always hated "you look like you're about to pop". Why do people always say that?!

CLewis said...

This has already happened to me with this baby...two months after having him. A barista asked when I was due and when I said I had him two months ago she tried to play it off like she knew that and had forgotten but I knew what she had meant. Took everything I had not to cry. Feels HORRIBLE!! I know the people who say these things generally don't mean harm but it really is a reminder of things you don't want to think about, like your size.

Thanks for the humorous post on this subject...your rules should become LAW:)

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