I was at a bookstore with my husband. We had just finished an awesome, overpriced dinner out, and our sweet toddler was home in bed, perfectly cared for by a babysitter. I rounded a corner and ran into a young woman, maybe in her 20s. She looked at me, looked at my 8-months-pregnant belly, and her face lit up.
“I love your belly!”, she exclaimed. And I wanted to hug her.
During the last six months, because this belly has been obviously baby and not just a big dinner, I have heard some comments. A few were kind and thoughtful, but most were just rude. Plain old rude. And I’m not sure what it is about the sight of a pregnant woman that makes a person lose his or her filter, but ask any woman that has lived in a pregnant body and left the house during those nine months. She will tell you. Every one of us has stories of shocking things that were casually said to us by kind, well-meaning people. And as many times as this subject has been talked about and blogged about and social-media-posted about, there are some people out there in the universe that are still doing it. I won’t name names, but I could.
So here I am, once again, waving my flag made out of the stickiest duct tape, reminding you that if you can’t say something nice to a pregnant girl, tape it up, y’all. ‘Cause here are a few things you should know.
I have eyes. I know what I looked like before pregnancy. I know what I look like today. I am not one of those pregnant people that barely looks pregnant. I look pregnant all over. And this morning, when I pulled my giant yoga pants up to my eyeballs, desperate for something that fit, I didn’t choose them because they were the hottest thing in my closet. I chose them because they are the practical choice. They stretch. I can breathe in these. And for heaven’s sake, if you see me at church or somewhere where I have obviously tried to look nice, this makes your sin of tactlessness even more grievous. Because I fixed my hair. I’m wearing makeup. And probably earrings. I expended precious energy to look presentable, and all you see is my belly. And this is why pregnant girls are known for crying.
On that note, please understand, I have feelings. When I am already feeling large and uncomfortable, the last thing I want to hear is that you think there are probably twins in my uterus. There aren’t. There is just one. And even if there are two, that means two wonderful babies to hold and celebrate. It would be a joyous thing. I don’t comment when you have gained weight. (Thanks, mom, for teaching me manners.) So, please don’t comment when I have.
Also, I have probably already heard it today. Think about it. On the average day, I encounter a reasonable number of people. If even a tiny percentage of those people make a remark about my belly size, then I am hearing more comments about my body than is acceptable. It is disheartening and discouraging.
And sometimes, I get worried. With my first pregnancy, I had polyhydramnios, which is a fancy term for lots and lots of amniotic fluid. My doctors took extra precautions, checking weekly to make sure that my baby boy’s kidneys were working properly. They checked for proper growth, prepared to intervene if something were to go wrong. And it was scary, really, the thought that something might not be perfect with this baby. In this second pregnancy, I have it again, only my fluid levels are higher. The risk is greater. The regular commenting on size is just another way to bring up worry and stress in my mind, which is the last thing a pregnant mama needs.
A few days ago, I went through a local drive thru to get coffee. I was dressed in my pregnant mama uniform. No makeup, yoga pants, mom bun, maternity tank top, and flip flops. The barista was a young female. She handed me my coffee, glanced at my growing belly, and she exclaimed “You look so cute!”
And I didn’t. I really didn’t.
I think I know what she meant. She wasn’t really commenting on my fashion sense or my style. She was expressing delight in the fact that there was a baby. A baby that I am working hard to grow and keep safe. And with all of the work and heartburn and discomfort that comes with pregnancy, a mama deserves a verbal high five. Or maybe even a real one. I appreciated the one I got from this girl. I drove away feeling happy, and not just because I had an iced coffee in my hand, although that probably helped.
So, when you see a pregnant mama, please, please say something nice. Don’t comment on size, large or small. Don’t say how you think she won’t make it to her due date. Don’t laugh about how she looks like she is having twins. Don’t preface whatever you are about to say about her looks with a loud “WHOA!” Offer a word of encouragement. Offer congratulations. Or offer a high five. Or better yet, tell her she looks nice, and offer to buy her a cup of coffee. She will thank you.