The kicking creature inside of me is due in four weeks, and I think he'll be here even slightly sooner than that. We’re in countdown mode, so let’s use this opportunity to review our Pregnancy Etiquette.
Do not tell A Pregnant Woman that she looks big.
For if you do, she therefore has permission to begin commenting on your size.
“Well, and I’ve noticed you’re looking rounder than ever, too…do you have a happy reason? Oh, well, it’s a new year…maybe it’s time for a weight-loss resolution!”
Do not tell A Pregnant Woman that she looks tired.
For if you do, you have opened the conversational options to everyone’s image flaws, including your own.
“Yes, and your sweater’s ugly and your haircut is unflattering.”
Do not cluck over how A Pregnant Woman is walking or moving.
For if you do, she may bring up your obvious weaknesses, like how you under-season everything you cook and you’re a terrible driver.
Unless you have already been granted belly-touching permission, do not touch A Pregnant Woman’s belly.
For if you do, she has license to reach over and rub yours. And how would you feel about that?
(Remember that line from Bridget Jones’s Diary? “Mmmm, squashy.”)
And a remedial point: do not make assumptive comments to A Pregnant Woman about the gender of her baby and how that will or will not improve her family structure.
Your biases are not her biases. Your preferences are not her preferences. Your small talk may be construed as terribly offensive.
Points to remember:
1) She knows she looks tired. (She is tired.) She knows she isn’t as sprightly and balletic as usual. She knows how many more days she has to go. She does not need your assistance in calling these issues to mind.
2) Do not speak to your Pregnant Woman at all of pregnancy-related topics unless you are in full cheerleader mode. You may say: “you look beautiful!” but only if you can say it in a sincere tone. You may say: “you’re doing great!” You may say: “call me if there’s anything I can do!” –but only if you mean it.
3) Pregnancy is not a condition that you are allowed to comment on more freely than any other anatomical or biological condition. You would not say, "hey, your stutter is worse than ever! How does that make you feel?" Nor would you ever say "female-pattern balding just really doesn't suit you, does it?" But some people (not you, I'm sure) might make similarly thoughtless observations to A Pregnant Woman, so remember that she might make some back to you.
A Pregnant Woman is still A Thinking Woman. So she's noticed your bad breath or your poor hygiene or the canker sore that never seems to leave your upper lip. Or that you've gained 20 pounds this year or gotten a terrible dye job or that you're a hideous dresser. So far, she's had the good taste, as most adults do, to keep those thoughts to herself and refrain from repeating them to your face. But she is, admittedly, feeling tired and defensive and not in the best of spirits. If you are inappropriate in your speech, you give her permission to reciprocate -- and she just might do it.
It is a new year. Maybe you're looking for a critical review. Who's in the mood to hear an honest assessment of themselves? Anyone?