Talking to someone about their pregnancy can be tricky, we know, so we’re here to help you out with the things you should never say…
I found out I was expecting a baby earlier this year, when one of my friends pointed out that my late period could indicate a pregnancy (a lesson from Sex Education 101 that I had somehow forgotten). I did the test, watched in amazement as two little lines formed, and wandered downstairs to wave the aforementioned pee-stick in front of my unsuspecting partner.
As I’m a stickler for details, I went on to take another five tests throughout the week (just to be sure). An excruciating three months later, I went for my first ultrasound scan, still utterly convinced that the doctors would laugh me out of the room. “You’re crazy,” they told me repeatedly inside my head. “There’s no baby in here, away with you!”
But reader, there was a baby in there. And so, grainy black-and-white photo in hand, my partner and I finally began sharing our news with friends, family, and colleagues.
I expected… I don’t know what I expected, to be honest. I’m naturally awkward, so I figured I’d drop the baby bombshell on them, they’d be happy (or at least feign happiness) on my behalf, maybe ask an open-ended question or two (nothing more intense than a vague “How are you doing?”) and then we’d change the subject. Job done.
As it turns out, though, people have a lot to say when it comes to the contents of one’s womb. Like, a lot to say. And hardly any of it is fun to hear.
With that in mind, then, here are just a few of the conversational gems I was subjected to when my pregnancy became public information…
“Are you joking?”
Actually a little offended that people have my humour levels set at such a very, very low bar. Of course I’m not joking!
“I knew it!”
No one likes a smartass, Karen. Just pretend to be surprised, say congratulations, and then we can get back to talking about Netflix already.
“Omg, please can I tell [INSERT MUTUAL FRIEND’S NAME HERE]?”
Of course, for it is absolutely your happy tidings to share. Who am I to stand in your way?
“I didn’t know you were trying!”
I didn’t realise it was any of your business. I’ll be sure to send out a Twitter alert next time I have unprotected sex, I guess.
“So was it… planned?”
What. A. Question. Are you basically asking me if my unborn spawn is a mistake? And do you really think I’d tell you if it was? Honestly.
“But you’re not married!”
Someone alert the elders, I guess, for I have sinned. (Seriously, though, what is this? Gilead?)
“Will you get married before the baby comes?”
I mean, I’ve got enough on my plate right now… and I doubt anyone born outside of the 1800s will shun my unborn bastard from society. At least, not anyone whose opinion I actually care about.
“Whose surname will the baby take, then? His, I assume?”
OK, so this really is Gilead. Good to know. Why don’t you let us worry about that and focus your attention on telling me about my glow, or my lack of glow, or something similarly silly, yeah?
“Is your partner excited?”
Nah, he’s locked himself at home, prostrate with grief. C’est la vie, eh?
“Is it a boy or girl?”
Literally no clue. Next.
“But would you prefer a boy or a girl?”
I’m not falling for this, people. I refuse to be misquoted at a later date. Plus, I don’t have a choice and this dumbass question implies one gender might be preferable.
“Have you thought of names yet?”
Even if I had, I wouldn’t be sharing them with you. Sorry not sorry, but my future sprog’s name shall not be swayed by the court of public opinion.
“Is this your first child?”
Look, you don’t get to ask that. You don’t get to ask anyone that. Not just because it implies that there will always be a second child after this one (and hi, some of us only want one!), but because you have no idea what someone’s been through to get to this point. Their reproductive history is none of your business.
“Ooh, your bump is already so big!”
I know I’m pregnant and all, but still never a fan of people commenting on my weight. Especially when they follow it up with, “Guess that means you’ll be having a big baby!” because… well, I still have to get that allegedly big baby out of my body somehow.
“You’ll never sleep again”
Thank you for that.
“Or have sex”
“Or go out. Your life is about to change forever!”
Uh-huh, so I’ve heard. But, quite honestly, I need love and support right now, not ominous warnings about the bleak little future I’ve apparently signed myself up for.
“Did I tell you about [INSERT TERRIFYING BIRTH STORY HERE]?”
You didn’t, actually, and I could have done without it. Because now that image will be burned into my brain and live there forever rent-free, which means I have yet another extra reason to feel nervous about labour.
“I hope the baby comes out normal”
You are, quite clearly, the devil incarnate. And what the hell does ‘normal’ even mean nowadays, anyway? As long as the baby doesn’t turn out to be anything like you, I’m all good.
“Your boobs are enormous”
This is… yeah, this is never OK. When has it ever been OK to comment on someone’s breast size? And why oh why must you persist on following it up with a fun little prediction about how they will deflate and sag after all this? Why?!
“You will breastfeed, won’t you?”
What else would I use these enormous boobs for, eh? Honestly, I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if I’m going to be breastfeeding or not. And I can’t tell you how many people have subjected me to a lecture whenever I’ve replied that I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. I guess mummy-shaming starts in the first trimester.
“Should you be eating/drinking that?”
If you’re not a midwife or consultant, keep your opinions about my dietary choices to yourself. Unless you want to end up wearing whatever it is I’m currently noshing on, that is…
“But are you allowed to exercise?”
Again, unless you’re a midwife or a consultant, I’m not in the mood for this conversation. Plus, don’t you think I’ve researched exactly what I can do at this time? (See also: me getting my hair dyed).
“Your body is going to look so different after this”
Yeah, no kidding. I never realised how vain I was until I became pregnant. Now, I find myself looking at myself super critically and judging every new lump, bump, wobble and stretch mark… mainly because I’m worried what everyone else will be thinking about them. And boy, do I know they’re thinking about them. They won’t stop banging on about it.
“How do you feel about bringing another child into this already overcrowded world of horror, violence and environmental destruction?”
I mean, when you put it like that… not great, to be honest. In my defence, that damning new climate change report came out after this blessed miracle (ha!) took place. I’m researching ecofriendly parenting tips, I promise, but can we stick to positive vibes for now?
“What will you do with all of that time off?”
Yes, someone genuinely referred to my upcoming maternity leave as “time off”. And yes, I had to sit on my hands to keep myself from slapping them. Because, from what I’ve been told, maternity leave is about giving your body time to recover from labour, changing endless nappies, and never sleeping again. Some holiday, right?
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