I want to make a public service announcement for all women, and men out there for that matter. Something happened – again – to me today, painfully, for the umpteenth time, and by writing this, maybe, just maybe, I can stop someone from being stupid. Yes, I used the word stupid. If you are offended by that word, you may not want to proceed any further, because today’s blog post is a rant. I was going to write a cheery blog post about a few firsts that the Humphrey family is experiencing with Idan. I was going to talk about his first tooth, our first vacation, my first night away from him, but alas, no. I will have to blog about that some other time. This occurrence today has preoccupied my usual chipper Pollyanna sunshine attitude into “that” person who is a little uncomfortable to be around. Let me proceed:
I understand a lot of things about post pregnancy. Heck, I even wrote a blog post about how incredibly difficult it feels to get your body back after having a baby. It seems like I am in a constant race chasing after my “old self,” but am far fatter, on a track that is uphill while wearing not so cute running clothes. I have gabbed to several women about how it feels like my body was pushed inside out, and then back in again, and the new body parts arranged by Picasso. My logical self knows that all of this is part of the process. But then why does it still hurt so badly when someone asks you the three dreaded words:
“ARE YOU PREGNANT?!”
These three words come in many different forms and varieties. “Having a baby,?” or “Are you expecting?” or “Another one huh?” (with a belly pat might I add)
This list goes on and on, but today for some reason it really hurt my feelings.
I know of three exact occasions that someone has said this to me, and each time, it affected me differently. I know that when that stupid person asks, they are not trying to be mean. In fact, they smile and get a glint of excitement when asking you a question that is incredibly private and personal. Most of the time they are strangers, and on a few occasions maybe a co-worker. But that doesn’t matter, because in the end I want to say that asking someone if they are pregnant is straight up rude. Even if the woman is carrying a 20 pound bowling ball, wearing a shirt that say’s EATING FOR THREE, and is waddling around eating ice cream covered in pickles, you STILL DON’T ASK.
What if that woman was suffering from infertility and you just asked her the one thing that could cause her to go into an emotional coma for a week? Not only did you bring up the dreaded pregnancy word, now she feels like she is fat too. Great, FAT and INFERTILE.
What if that woman just adopted that baby? Because of the awkwardness of the question, she may be forced to reveal private information about her experience which may be painful.
What if the woman is just overweight and is feeling insecure about herself, and you just made it worse and confirmed what she has been thinking all along: that she is fat and people really DO NOTICE. That is something that can ruin a vacation, a day at work, a moment, or a lifetime.
What if a woman just had a miscarriage? Or lost her baby? After my first miscarriage, a colleague of mine patted my belly and asked me if God had blessed me with another one to replace the one I just lost. I ugly-cried in the car and felt like a failure.
Because even if someone tells you a thousand wonderful things a day, you will remember the one that is the sharpest and most cutting, because it leaves the deepest impression and spreads to the darkest places within ourselves.
Why am I ranting so much about this right now? Because for the third time since Idan was born, I have been asked if I am expecting again. It was a nurse at Idan’s 9 month doctor’s appointment today. That question had absolutely no medical relevance to my son, it was just plain ol’ stupid commentary. As she was asking about his health, she glanced down at my midsection, smiled, and said “oh, and another on the way?” I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to say except “Nope.” My husband was baffled and wasn’t sure he heard her right and mumbled something and just looked at me with terror, ‘cause he knew that he was now going to have to deal with my emotional rollercoaster for the next several hours. That and several hours of googling the newest diets, cleaning out our fridge and making him exercise with me the moment we got home.
It is so painful because the person who is asking doesn’t know what I went through to conceive Idan, or to keep him. They don’t know that I had a very painful C-section that took weeks to recover. They don’t know that I have had self-esteem issues with my weight since I was eight years old and saying something like this feeds that starved inner child who really does believe that she is fat. The nurse is just is making a blind assumption, and poor small talk.
Words are weapons, and I want to give some insight to people who may not know, but asking the question “Are you pregnant?” can cause a lot of emotional distress, and really make a person feel bad about themselves and the cards that they were dealt.
It’s a personal question that is up there with…
“What is your salary?” or “What’s your political affiliation?” or “Do you believe in abortion?”
To me, it’s just plain rude. Please don’t ask it, people.
Thank you all for reading my soap box about this. I understand you may be reading this with raised eyebrows and horror that I would use words like stupid, or go off on something that is seemingly silly. But this is something I really just wanted to get off my chest, because maybe it will enlighten people to be a little more cautious with what they say to strangers. Everyone has a story, and who knows what part you just added to theirs.
That is all.