10 rules of engagement
So, after 28 weeks of pregnancy I have learned a lot about how this whole "cooking a baby" thing works.
So since I'm nearly 3/4 of the way done, I feel like I can offer up some friendly guidelines/rules that I would like to put out there to help the general public engage with pregnant people. Keep in mind these rules are for strangers or acquaintances, not for close friends and family.
- You touch me, I touch you: People warned me about the "stranger touching" that comes along with the whole pregnancy package; meaning that strangers and acquaintances alike will feel free to touch your stomach at any time (most times without even asking). I thought I was prepared for this, but really you can never be prepared for inappropriate touching. The casual quick-rub is actually the least offensive of all the stranger touching, but the prolonged/lingering-belly-rub is what really gets me. Any more than 20 seconds is TOO long (unless you are extremely close to me). So, I have decided that if you feel the need to touch and rub my belly, I should also get to touch and rub your belly.
- If you don't have anything nice to say (about the belly), don't say anything at all: We all have days when we zip up our jeans and think "damn, I am skinny." I have not had
manyany of those days lately, but once in a while I'll put on an outfit where I feel like I've gained no more than 5 pounds (all in my belly) and the rest of me is skinnier than ever. So, the worst possible thing you can ever say to a pregnant person is how freakishly huge and ginormous their belly is or otherwise make reference to any part of a pregnant lady being "huge."
- Don't get too familiar: When you announce that you are expecting, it seems to open the floodgates of questions that are WAY TOO personal. I think everyone knows how babies get made, so lets just agree gloss over that subject and never talk about it. Under no circumstance should you ask about "how long it took" to conceive, or in anyway inquire about frequency, difficulty, fertility etc. If you do "go there," please refer to rule 1, and I will be forced to ask you about your "frequency."
- Do not argue with a pregnant lady: I have been surprisingly non-emotional so far, but there are a few things that really get under my skin and make me lose my mind. The worst thing to do is argue with me over the sex of my baby. Since we are not finding out, absolutely no one on this earth knows if this baby is a boy or a girl beside one lonely ultrasound tech- not even my doctor knows because it was never recorded in my chart (on purpose). I have a strong feeling its a boy. You may have a strong feeling its a girl. That is perfectly fine; we've both picked our sides. What you should never do is tell me I am wrong and argue with me over the gender. Trust me, you are not going to convince me that my intuition is wrong and that your non-medical opinion is right, so please don't try.
- Show me your plaque: Every parent has a different parenting style, just as every child is different, so their style caters to their lifestyle and their specific children. It is surprising to me how much parenting advice I have already received.... if they have kids, shouldn't they know about pregnancy brain? I can't remember what I had for lunch, but they think I'm going to remember their parenting advice? I know we all think we do it "right" but from now on, before I accept any parenting advice, I and going to request that they show me their "Parent of the year" plaque before I start taking dutiful notes. Try to remember that everyone has their own parenting style and although your advice is given with the best of intentions, free advice is generally worth the price you pay.
- Stop staring while I'm sweating: Working out has become increasingly more difficult as my stomach has started protruding straight out. Spin class ceased a few months ago and running has been happening less and less these days. Instead, I've been hitting the gym and doing time on the elliptical. I can't tell you how many people gawk at me while I'm working out. Everyone from the front desk staff to the other patrons of the gym act like they've never seen a pregnant lady working out. It feels like they are watching me in case I go into labor on the elliptical. Trust me, if I am going into labor, I'll let everyone know. Until then, focus more on your US Weekly, and less on my sweating.
- Don't ever utter these phrases: All of these phrases have been said to me, with very endearing smiles (apparently insults are easier to say with a smile) "Every time I see you, you just get bigger." "Wow, you look like you are about to explode." "You looked so cute waddling down the hall, I barely could tell you were pregnant from behind."
- Closet your concerns: Shortly after I started telling people about the pregnancy, I had an extremely earnest co-worker sit down at my desk, with a very concerned look on her face and ask very seriously, "Was this planned?" I have no idea what my face looked like, but I can only assume I looked embarrassed and horrified all at the same time. Yes, in fact it was planned, although it is none of your business, and I'm INCREDIBLY uncomfortable with your line of questioning. From here on out, lets assume that if I'm telling my coworkers about a pregnancy, that whether it was planned or un-planned, I'm thrilled about it and I want you to be thrilled for me- please react accordingly.
- Stop monitoring my food: It seems that as soon as people realize you're pregnant, they want to "help" you by ensuring you are eating a balanced diet of nutritious foods. Although I appreciate that you care about my unborn baby, I have been successfully feeding myself for nearly 3 decades, and I feel confident in my ability to keep making my own decisions when it comes to my nutrition. That includes how often I want to eat dessert, drink caffeine, soft cheeses and pretty much anything else. Unless you see me doing shots of tequila, lets assume I'm making the right choices for me.
- Flattery will get you everywhere: Every girl likes a compliment, and a pregnant lady LOVES a compliment. You should start every interaction with a pregnant lady with "you look amazing" or "you look so skinny." Trust me, it will get you EVERYWHERE and ANYTHING you want.
So there you have it. Take them or leave them, but I promise you, if you follow even 1/2 of these rules you will have pleasant interactions with pregnant people- and if you just fall back on rule 10, you will be fine.
A pregnancy post wouldn't be complete without a picture to show you just how big the belly has got. 12 weeks left!