People say a lot of things when you are pregnant. I have heard mostly kind, well-intentioned comments. Occasionally people will say silly things, like the time when the middle aged man told me I was too early for Halloween in my orange shirt. Luckily, he picked me (picked on me?) on a patient day and I merely replied, “Pumpkin smuggling” and kept on going. On the wrong day, he might have got a burst of tears or a blaze of sarcasm about how many of his shirts still fit over his belly. People will tell you that you’ll have your hands full with three and that you won’t sleep but they are just reliving their lives, when they were young and herded a pack of beautiful, rambunctious children through the grocery store.
There reaches a certain inevitable point in pregnancy where people you know no longer greet you by name; they greet you by exclamations with phrases such as “You are still here?!” (where was I supposed to be going?) and “No baby yet?!” (Well, there’s certainly a baby, isn’t there?). When you call anyone, you must say, fast, “Hello. Nowehaven’thadthebabyyet. How are you doing?”
At this point, strangers everywhere start asking you, “When is your due date? It must be soon!”
And a dramatic shift occurs in the cosmos when your due date comes and goes. And the days keep on going. And going. People’s eyes get wide. Their mouths drop open a little bit. And compassion hits you from every side. You poor thing. This week I have been blessed by the kindness of people who have decided it is in my best interests to say only nice things, perhaps stretching the truth at times.
So, based on my recent experience, here’s a short list of niceties to say to a very pregnant woman if you don’t know what to say. Save your own overdue story and murderous induction tales for another day…
1. You are beautiful.
I cannot walk properly, though I try. This had me giggling the other day as in my brain I went to go power walking down the mall for a quick errand and realized my body couldn’t keep up. So I cannot walk. I have exactly 2 shirts that still fit me. The scale keeps going up and up and up….well, you get the idea.
I posted a picture of my orange shirt pumpkin belly on my due date, half for laughs, and my friends and family kindly told me I looked great. Yesterday both a middle aged man and all the teachers at my son’s school told me I am beautiful pregnant. It didn’t matter that my hair was frizzy and that I was desperately tugging on my long shirt that doesn’t seem so long anymore and that I had circles under my eyes. You can’t go wrong telling the woman who is thinking that perhaps she will be pregnant forever that at least she doesn’t look like a whale. Even if she does.
2. You are all baby.
Now this isn’t one little bit true. The majority of pregnant women pack on weight in places that aren’t just belly. I am all baby if you count one baby on my belly and one on each thigh. And I can tell you right now which two are going to take more work to get rid of.
Maybe the belly distracts you now from the extra padding everywhere else. And the belly is distracting. It is large. When you reach full term and beyond, your belly is no longer cute and round. It is lopsided, leaning to the side where the baby is. It develops corners and bumps where little knees and bums and elbows are. But for now, distractions or not, your words make me think that you look at me with kinder eyes than I do myself.
3. Don’t you have a good attitude!
Well, I have an okay attitude at this moment. In this particular moment, I am trying to be patient and unselfish in letting this baby grow as long as he wants on the inside. But sometimes I am cranky. Sometimes I want to be done. Sometimes I think I am going to be pregnant and sore for the rest of my life and never have a baby at all. So overlooking my meltdowns and congratulating me on my sketchy attitude is mighty kind of you.
4. Good for you to be out and about! Usually this is not something that we are congratulated for, going to the grocery store, going to the library, going to church. But we’ll take it. Productivity and energy is at an all time low so for you to say we’ve accomplished something by walking out the door makes us feel much better about our lives.
5. Fat babies sleep better.
This is the winner, hands down. You can tell me I’m all baby and have a good attitude and I know the real truth. But when you remind me that with more fat stores comes a greater probability that this child will sleep better sooner, I buy it. I don’t care if it is substantiated or not. It sounds plausible. It sounds hopeful. It sounds like just the right thing to say.