Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If Rob's Going to Bring it Up . . .

by Stephanie Black

In the ongoing quest to get in shape, I pulled out my workout DVDs and tried a couple of them. My son pronounced my efforts “entertaining.” I don’t doubt it, but as long as he doesn’t post me on You Tube, I’m not going to worry. Boy are my abs sore now. Who knew I actually had abs? Which leads to my public service announcement for the day:

*No matter the state of a woman's abs, don’t ask her if she is pregnant. Just don’t.

If she isn’t pregnant, this question will not make her day. Yes, I have experienced this, more than once. It’s never fun, because no matter how the questioner tries to backpedal, what the non-pregnant woman will hear, in loud, Bose-quality stereo is: “You look fat.” No woman likes to be told this. Even if she happens to own a mirror and might, possibly, on one or two occasions, have noticed that her abdomen carries some extra baggage, she doesn’t want to hear it from you. So don’t guess. Unless the woman is thin all over except for a stomach so large that it stretches into another time zone, AND is at that moment discussing her obstetrician, the color of her crib, and her due date, don’t guess. Please? Thank you. Flabby women will bless your name for generations.

Rob, thank you for opening the floodgates. I have more to say.

What is it about child-related matters that lead people to ask questions that sound casual on the surface but are, when you think about it, extremely personal? I have five kids, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked,” So are you having more?” I’ll usually make some light reply like, “Not this week”, but come on, what a personal question! Yeah, okay, I know they’re just being friendly (or are so astounded that anyone could have such a HUGE family that they have to know more) but it’s dangerous territory to delve into someone's family planning. What if the recipient of the question desperately wants more children, but can’t have them? Or just suffered a miscarriage? It seems better to let a woman bring up numbers if she wants to—“Oh, we want eight!”—rather than probing into what might be a painful subject.

And, of course, there’s the flipside question—“When are you two going to have kids?” That teasing casual question could be a knife right in the heart of someone who has been trying for years to get pregnant. Please, oh, please don’t assume that someone doesn’t have children because she’s putting off childbearing. And if she has one child, don’t assume that she doesn’t have more because she only wanted one. I’m sure my sister, who has endured the agony of infertility, could tell stories about comments, innocently made, that cut deep.

Assumptions can be dangerous. So stay safe.

Okay, I’m done now. Remember, Rob started it.


At 1/14/2009 4:07 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

My favorite casual thing about pregnant women is how even strangers might ask to touch her belly. Why is this remotely socially acceptable?

(And why do so many women allow it?)

At 1/14/2009 4:22 PM, Blogger Anna said...

It took me almost 4 years of trying to conceive (and 1 miscarriage) before I finally had my son. My brother in law (17 yrs old then) kept asking when we were having kids. To keep things light, we'd joke that we were planning on having one next weekend.

So I never ask people personal questions like "why don't you have kids yet?" because maybe their reasons are something that is hard to talk about or deal with. Of course, it's different when it is a good friend, or you are in a deep conversation with someone about the subject.

And the "touch the belly thing".... after 3 pregnancies, I have yet to have strangers ever touch my belly while I was pregnant. Even friends never touched my belly, except for if the baby was moving like crazy and they asked if they could feel, or I told them they could feel if they want. The only people I ever had touch my belly without asking was my husband and my sister. Both I was absolutely fine and comfortable with them doing it.

At 1/14/2009 4:33 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

The question I hate and think is totally inappropriate--"Was this pregnancy planned?"

I recommend responding, sweetly, of course, "Are you asking if we carefully timed s*x with ovulation? Because I can't imagine why you are at all interested in knowing that?"

I have a much more crass answer, but I thought I'd try to keep this on the up-and-up.

At 1/14/2009 5:03 PM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

And don't announce in your testimony that your child was not planned. This is not something we wish to know about you.

Don't know why we used the royal we, but we did.

At 1/14/2009 5:13 PM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1/14/2009 5:19 PM, Blogger mathmom said...

Plus, asking personal questions like this can be very dangerous. You might get rude answers. We waited nearly 5 years for our first child. About half way through that time we were at a family gathering and my cousin asked my husband when we were going to have kids. It was such a sensitive subject to us and so to make light of it, my husband said, "Well, we took a look at your kids and decided to wait awhile." My cousin didn't talk to us for a few years. But, he is the one who asked the question...

At 1/14/2009 5:19 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Mean Aunt--you used "we" because you were including me in that. Yeesh. So many people feel compelled to tell people that their child was unplanned. Or heck, even planned. That is just too much information.

And as a child, would you want to know that you were unplanned? "So, I'm a big oops and my mother has never gotten over it?"

David, of course, is right. There are lots of opportunities to offend people and we should all be striving to not offend people and to not be offended.

At 1/14/2009 5:38 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

I was recently asked if I'd ever had a miscarriage. I was stunned at their audacity. That's hardly information I'd discuss with just anyone.

At 1/14/2009 8:23 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I never really thought of telling someone your child was unplanned as a bad thing. In my case, unplanned was an unexpected blessing. We tried for years to get pregnant. The month we bought our house I decided I was not going to try and get pregnant that month, because I didn't want to deal with the disappointment. I just wanted to enjoy the fact that we were finally getting our own place.

I got pregnant, and it was the best unplanned pregnancy ever. I didn't think I would ever get pregnant easily, but I was wrong with the next baby. Also a VERY much wanted unplanned pregnancy.

Sorry for those that think it's TMI (too much information). Just throwing it out as a thought.

At 1/15/2009 3:25 AM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Anna--I think your situation is different than the person who gets up in sacrament meeting and says, "we really didn't want another baby right now, but we're expecting!" And yes, I've heard that more than once over the pulpit.

Your statement is, "we are so blessed!" Different.

At 1/15/2009 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After having premature twins, losing one and the second in intensive care for months, we visited the singles ward we had gone to previous to our marriage. That was like walking through a demolition zone for them and us since none of the few friends I'd told had spread the news. It was very difficult to try to remain positive but still tell acquaintances what was happening. No one said the "right" things and it was very painful for me. My former visiting teacher did not approach me until the room was empty, then when I said I was fine, she looked me in the eyes and said, "How are you really?" I could feel her love. We cried together.

When we know that a person is speaking out of love, not curiosity or jealously the words or questions don't really make too much difference. The heart knows.

Marlene Austin


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