“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!”
Okay, I know it is a double negative, but you get the point. If you can’t say something nice or positive or encouraging, don’t say anything at all. I know this is a point that I’ve brought up before, but it bears repeating, especially with regards to pregnant women.
For the better part of July, my family and I traveled around visiting family and fundraising around the country. Airports, restaurants, parks, public bathrooms, and more, all apparently perfect places for people to say (well intentioned, or so I hope) hurtful comments about pregnancy – to my face. It takes me no time at all to rattle off some of the appalling and negative comments people have told me while I’m pregnant. I’ve probably spent more time this pregnancy crying about these comments than I have ridiculous things like Hallmark commercials.
But it isn’t even just the comments, it is the looks. Looks of disgust, of pity, at me for being pregnant in the summer and having “so long” left despite the fact that I look “ready to pop”, or perhaps looks of shock for the fact that I’m pregnant again (“don’t you know what causes that?” “do you own a TV?”) with two little girls already in tow. People have literally stared, mouths open, at my belly, and then they speak without bothering to look at my face, too entranced by bump, apparently. I’ve literally watched people’s eyes go straight to my belly, then leave their mouths agape and just…stare as my family and I have walked by.
And, oh, the horror that we are having another girl and that we failed to “get” a boy this time around, followed by suggestions on how to “get” a boy next time.
Y’all, pregnancy is hard enough, trust me. It is hard in the summer, it is hard in the winter. It is hard the first time around or the 8th time around. There are joys, sure, but it is hard and the last thing pregnant ladies need is people’s negative comments and stares.
Instead of questions and shock, may I suggest any (or all) of the following comments? (I seriously wonder if people just don’t know how to interact with a pregnant woman, as if we are another class of humans all together and common courtesy has flown out the window.)
“What a lovely family you have!”
“You are glowing!”
“Thank you for your openness to life!”
“When are you due? I’ll be praying for you from now through your delivery!” (make special note to avoid looks of shock and horror if the due date is later than you might expect given the size of a woman’s bump)
“Would you like my seat?”
“Can I help you with something? Bring you dinner? Carry your groceries?”
“You are radiant/beautiful/etc!”
“That dress/top/outfit is stunning on you!”
All great options. Note that literally none of them refer to the size of the bump, the number of babies you assume are in her uterus, or her awareness of what exactly causes pregnancy. No references to getting her husband “fixed”, as if something about him is broken, no offers to buy her/them a TV (and if TV is more fun/enjoyable than making babies…you’re doing something wrong). Positive, uplifting, grateful, that’s it. Pretty much all other comments can kindly be left inside your brain.