Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What to say to a pregnant woman

The worst pregnancy advice is nearly always unsolicited. I heard the generic stuff: at least 100 solutions for morning sickness, herbal remedies to ease the crying, teas for sleeplessness, how to pamper The Tank so he doesn't feel forgotten (are you kidding me?). There were the comments on my "cute" tummy bulge or the glance to my behind followed with "Don't worry, you'll lose that after the baby is born". And apparently being pregnant is open season for any ol' stranger to ask how much weight I'd gained or if I planned to breastfeed. Then there were all the people that felt the need to touch my belly, or bless it. I even had one woman tell me my belly had a colorful but very peaceful aura around it; could she meditate with it? Yeah, let me get back to you on that one.

A lot of women wanted to relive their pregnancy with me: it was the best time of my life, I loved being with child, enjoy it, it goes so fast. And a small hard-core group wanted to share every gory detail of their incredibly difficult birthing experiences. Thanks for the warning that I'm riding an express train straight to Worstpainimaginableville.

I had people ask if it was a boy or girl and then declare it was wrong to find out the sex of the baby in advance because some things should be a surprise. You want a surprise? How about the health of the baby? It truly is a miracle that should not be taken for granted when any baby is born healthy. Wondering whether my son would be born with hydrocephalus, a cardiac calcification, kidney nephrosis, et al. was enough of a surprise for me. In fact, I had so many unknowns happening prenatally that that one known, my baby was a boy, gave me something to hold onto.

Most of these people did not know my prenatal diagnosis. I know that each and every one of them meant well and I thanked them for their thoughts. But the worse advice I received was actually from a mother to a special needs child who did know Caden's diagnosis. She told me, "Have another child right away." Here I wasn't even finished with this pregnancy and the baby was already being written off. It suggested that I wouldn't be happy with him and should pin my big dreams on the next one. It was completely devoid of hope. There was no herbal remedy in existence to stop the tears I cried over her words. In her defense, that was what worked for her and she was sincerely trying to help. But it certainly didn't feel appropriate to share that with a woman who still had 4 more months in her pregnancy. I hadn't had a baby shower yet and her words left me wondering if I should even bother.

I look back now and appreciate all the concern expressed to me. But I heard enough of it. I didn't want any more counseling, advice, warnings, guidance, maternal bonding or sympathy. I wanted congratulations.

1 comment:

Loren Stow said...

Pregancy (and motherhood in fact) seems to signal to everyone that they can offload their advice on you! I remember all the advice too! But the worst I heard was from a colleague who also has a child (an adult now) with special needs. I told her I definitely wanted more children and she said that she decided she would never 'burden' another child with her first child... It stopped me in my tracks. I don't see my child as a burden! And Malakai is as deserving as any other child of siblings and the bonds and love they share! This woman sincerely decided that her only son, with special needs, did not deserve siblings because he would be a 'burden'.
Each to their own I suppose - but nonetheless mind-boggling!