Sunday, August 29, 2010

News Flash - what you should not ask

There is an issue of clarification that I feel must be brought to attention. It may well be considered a personal pet-peeve, I also think there is merit to really thinking through what we ask other people, particularly women of “child-bearing age.” It boils down to two main things.

1.     Women, basically between 20 and 35, can state, “I’m not feeling well,” without automatically being pregnant. We could have eaten something, we could have a stomach sickness, we could just have constipation and prefer to not shout it to the whole world. But just because we may tell you, “Yeah, I haven’t been feeling very well,” does not give you the cue to ask the dreaded question, “Are you pregnant,” or the statement, “Maybe you are pregnant.”

In fact, we can also have hot flashes and not be pregnant. We can have crazy dreams, and not be pregnant. Our “mammaries” can ache, and not be pregnant. We can even get sick in the morning and feel better in the afternoon – and NOT be pregnant.

2.     Women can also crave certain foods and still be completely childless. No matter if we want Mexican for breakfast or ice cream at midnight – the question of pregnancy should not come up. Pregnancy is not a pre-requisite for desiring a certain food!

I’ve been in my child-bearing years for a while now, and since I have been married (the past 4 years), I have been asked whether or suggested that I was pregnant hundreds of times – I wouldn’t even doubt thousands. It. Drives. Me. Basserk. And so, I wanted to give you some practical reasons why a) it is none of your business if someone is pregnant and b) you should not ask someone if they are pregnant.

Saying, “maybe your pregnant” can be insulting. In most cases a woman knows her body and how it functions pretty well. If she was pregnant or if it was a possibility, don’t you think she would have explored that option already? She doesn’t need random outsiders to remind her that each month a very identifiable check comes around to tell her whether she is or is not pregnant.

Asking, “are you pregnant” can be hurtful. You are not inside this woman’s brain and you may not know that she wants to be pregnant so bad, but it just isn’t happening. Asking her can remind her of that fact and make a simple comment become painful.

Being asked if you are pregnant can be annoying. Really? Why does every conversation have to revolve around pregnancy? Especially to the woman who really wants children right now, it would be great to be cared for as a woman and friend, and not just seem like everyone is waiting for you to have children before they can have a real relationship with you.

And, asking, “Are you pregnant” can simply cause someone to lie. So maybe I am pregnant, but I’m not ready for the whole world to know. Don’t make me have to lie to you and then come back and ask forgiveness later. Don’t put me in a hard place where I choose to sin or tell news that I am waiting to share.

You know what? If a friend says she isn't feeling well, why don't you ask her if there is a way you can make her day easier? Take her a cup of tea, or even a meal! Rarely do we get asked something like that. Usually we get asked if we are pregnant, or if "so-and-so" is pregnant. I know pregnancy seems like fun, light-hearted inquiry at times, but I just don't believe it is appropriate or the loving response we could have.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!


Richard said...

You seem pretty emotionally fired up about this. Are you pregnant?

Jk, I think you make some really valid points, giving all your super-cool readers some good mental stuff to chew on.

aconkling said...

I have to agree, Heather! It seemed I, like you, was asked this question a lot in the couple of years leading up to my pregnancy. I remember someone asking me in church on Sunday if I was pregnant because I looked like I had a bump under the flowing, cute shirt I had just bought (it was a stylish one that I never wore again). Suffice it to say, Jack had to calm me down a LOT after church and tell me I didn't look pregnant or that I had gained a bunch of weight for that matter. Also, it took us a long time to get pregnant and so hearing that phrase really did start to get a bit emotional for me when we were in those last few months of just "trying" before taking other steps. Thanks for your sweet words - and reminder of what NOT to say to my sweet sisters!! :)

Anonymous said...

I commented earlier, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace. I will try to recreate it.

Hallelujah!!!!! My thoughts exactly! I get very annoyed because at every gathering, every phone call, every opportunity people bring up children and pregnancy issue. Strangers even ask!
For some reason our society thinks this is an ok subject to address and make it as probing as they wish. It causes me to brush off the person/conversation because I am not going to give you an honest answer anyway. "Well, since you asked, our sex life..." Hello!?! You don't even really want to know and I would not divulge that anyway! I feel that it is no ones business beside God, yourself and your spouse. So often I have to exert a lot of self-control to not respond to rudeness with a snappy comment in return.
Since 1 in 6 people are infertile, there are people we all know who are dealing with this! Infertility is a really hard struggle which every single day you have to face the fact that you cant have the joy of child bearing and everyone is going to remind you by probing you continually. Many times just anything that may or may not be related to children can make a person struggling with infertility burst into tears. It surely doesn't help to painfully and bluntly bring it up more than necessary. I make it a point not to ask or hint about future-maybe-children. They will tell you if and when they have news. If there's not any news, then you will be MUCH appreciated for having the decency to refrain from being rude.
Thanks for addressing this. I now know I am not alone!
Mrs Y.

Audrey said...

ha I love the ranting in this post!! it's seems hormonal... are you pregant?
he he :)

The Feather Files said...

Hubs - pretty sure I'll let you know first if we ever are pregnant.

Aconkling - we can be so careless with our words. i cannot imagine that you looked pregnant in that shirt! i am so happy that you have a beautiful daughter today.

Mrs. Y - doesn't it seem like they all ask at the same time? and, i doubt they are trying to be rude, but we neglect loving others and become more nosy. this was a good post for me to remind myself of some things too.

Audrey - oh, you make me laugh.

Lindsay said...

I'm with Audrey. Are you?! :-) J/k.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post - you gave me something to chew on.

I do want to say this - for those who are guilty of asking when someone says they are feeling sick (um, me) if there is a bun in their oven, we mean no hurt feelings what-so-ever. Promise. It's like a second-nature question, really. Maybe that's because I'm RARELY sick...unless I'm incubating. So shame on me for thinking others can't be "just" sick.

I say you just tell everyone you're not feeling well every day for a whole year. My guess is they'd stop asking. Oh, that would be a fun experiment....then count how many times people actually ask. Hehe.

joan said...

Heather, I am sure you have just said what many of us thought for years and years but did not say. I do remember "when". Good reminder. : )

However, on the flip side, as I too have been guilty of having that come out of my mouth before thinking, there are those who are so EXCITED with the prospect of someone having a baby that they cannot contain themselves. They are happy with their life and children so they just "assume" that you should/would be also. . . . The stumbling blocks of life. . .

Laura said...

lol! i wanted to say what richard already asked. :)
i have now duly noted that you do not want to be asked if you're pregnant when you're under the weather. personally, i didn't let it bother me before. it's fun to think of ways to answer that will mess with people. and rather than saying 'no' all the time, make an evasive joke. then when the answer is yes and you don't want to share, you won't be lying and they won't notice you changed your answer.
love your honesty heather! :)

Sam and Abby McNair said...

IF you just have one baby after another, people don't ask... they just assume you are:) that was my trick... (don't try this at home)

Audrey said...

hey guess what I can't spell pregnant...

The Feather Files said...

Let me set the record straight: I am not pregnant. I didn't even get asked if I was pregnant, but I constantly get asked if "so-and-so" is pregnant or see others getting asked or asking. I just had to let these thoughts out of my brain before I really blew up.

Thanks for your comments! I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts!

jnet said...

well, i'm still catching up....and abby, i had kids quickly too. - then i got the comments, "when are you going to stop???" it's just people - some really care, some are curious, some don't think before they speak, some don't want to be the last to know... isn't that life!!!
heather - you need to come up with a response that you give every time, then whether you are or aren't it's the same until you want to share....