A friend of mine told me on the weekend that she and her husband had started trying to get pregnant with their first child.
"I'm not making that common knowledge though", she added, after I'd expressed my excitement.
"It's going to drive me insane if it takes a long time to get pregnant and people keep asking me 'are you pregnant yet? Are you pregnant yet?' "
Wise words, I would venture to say, since as I think you would agree, any pregnancy, or anticipated pregnancy, seems to attract a unwanted torrent of unsolicited remarks even from the most unlikely sources.
After this conversation with my friend, I reflected on some of the comments people had made to me during my two pregnancies. These aren't things that I think about often, but I can't honestly say that they didn't shock me a bit at the time. I've also heard quite a few friends tell me of ridiculous remarks people have made during their pregnancies too. So I've come to the conclusion that it's official: pregnancy attracts foot in mouth disease.
With that in mind, I thought I'd share with you a smattering of some of the comments I received during my own pregnancies:
These little gems came my way when I was pregnant with my son ...
* "Wow! You're big for 5 months!" (This one came from a girl I worked with at the time who was in her early twenties and had never given birth. I'm still unsure why she thought she was the authority on pregnancy)
* "Have you still got 10 weeks to go? I thought you must have been about to pop!"
* "It must be the pregnancy hormones that are making your skin so bad."
And I couldn't possibly forget these either ...
* When I was about ten weeks pregnant, I went into a dress shop to buy a ball gown to wear to a function run by my husband's work. I just wanted to browse and try some things on by myself, but the lady in the shop was very insistant that she wanted to help. So I gave in and described to her what I was looking for. "I don't want it to be too tight though", I told her, "because I'm pregnant". Her plastered smile instantly dropped off her face, she touched my arm and said "Oh my God". Looking back I can't actually believe I went ahead and bought a dress from that shop, but it wasn't a big city and there weren't many other options. I thought later that maybe she thought I'd come in to buy a dress for a school ball. Even so, I hope she has since changed career as customer service clearly was not her forte!
* I was a third year uni student at the time and one day when I was about seven months pregnant, I was walking across campus to get to a lecture. I passed by two girls who I had never seen before. As I walked past them one of them muttered, softly but quiet loud enough and clearly intended for me to hear: "slut". And no, I'm not joking (although I think this fits into the category of 'downright nasty', rather than foot in mouth).
Here are the pearls of wisdom that came while I was pregant with my daughter 8 years later ...
* "I can't believe you're going back to the baby stage again after all that time!"
* "How come you waited so long to have number two?"
* "I didn't think you were going to have any more children". (I can't remember how I responded to this one, but I'm sure what I would like to have said would have been along the lines of "Really? And what exactly gave you that impression??")
* "You shouldn't be working if you're pregnant" (this one came from a reprobate adolescent who I used to teach - or at least tried to. I will forgive him though due to his tender age).
Needless to say, I was gobsmacked. I'm still mystified as to her motivation for asking me that. My partner was with me during the birth and my records showed that I already had another child. Plus, the baby was already born so I really did have to ask myself exactly how useful that question was on a scale of one to utterly useless!
Ah, but I suppose all these things prepare us for the onslaught of unwanted opinion that punctuates the rest of our journeys through motherhood: the debate between breast or bottle, co-sleeping or cot, private or public schools, the speculation over the right time to introduce solids and toilet training and all our choices regarding anything from dummies* to discipline to daycare.
Lucky kids are so darn cute, isn't it?
* that's pacifiers, for my American friends :)
Did anyone say any rude or ridiculous things to you or someone you know during pregnancy?