Pregnancy. Ah, I remember it well. Commentary by T.M. Burroughs
So, when I saw this article about things you shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman, I was interested. Most maternally inclined women would be because pregnancy represents the most emotionally charged time of our lives. We feel curiosity, sentimentality, joy, worry, and great expectations.
When I read it, however, I found I couldn’t agree with some of the six taboo inquiries offered by the author. She seems to ignore the fact that shared experience triggers a sort of hope of a bond between strangers.
It’s the same happy curiosity that happens to a bride. She announces her engagement, displays her ring with pride, and suddenly there’s an avalanche of questions from excited friends, as well as sales personnel and other strangers who want to share the giddiness. Each question has its equivalent in the questions posed to expectant mothers.
Will you have a religious or civil ceremony? = What are you having, boy or girl?
Genuine curiosity at work here, the asker is trying to visualize a large formal ritualistic occasion, or a less complicated, intimate affair. When someone asks a pregnant woman What are you having? they are just curious about whether the wardrobe will consist of outfits in blues and greens with dinosaurs and firetrucks, or pinks and purple with flowers and bows. Some marvel at the technology that allows gender i.d. They aren’t trying to be intrusive.
May I see your ring? = Can I touch your belly?
Let’s face it, a pregnant belly is a lot more interesting than a non-pregnant one. When a woman is far enough along to show, it’s likely the baby is already moving. Who wouldn’t be excited about that? And while I agree that it’s polite to ask not just touch, why put down someone who is pro-life and forgets her manners when a life-bearing woman enters, and touching that little human hidden away would bring joy?
Ok, maybe How much weight have you gained? isn’t said to newly engaged women. Brides often bring it up themselves, though.
Brides want to look their best and fit into a certain size gown. Their wedding is the greatest photo op ever. So, most do not want to gain. Weight gain is, however, almost a certainty with a healthy pregnancy. That, too, seems to me to be a fair question. Not because of media pressure for women to be a specific ideal size and shape (thin and hourglass). But because weight is an important external indicator of health and potential health risks. Pregnancy is risky to begin with. When you add the fact that hypertension and diabetes can develop during pregnancy, and each is associated with one’s weight, I view the question when posed to a pregnant woman as the sign of a knowledgeable person showing concern for the woman’s condition.
I am not advocating full disclosure of personal information to strangers. I drew the line myself when strangers inquired about my daughters’ conceptions. When, where, how? Especially strangers wearing trench coats or asking me from a slowly rolling car while I was taking a stroll. They weren’t curious or interested in my joy or health. Well, they may have been curious about my joy. But I digress.
My point is that the protruding tummy of an expectant mother is a conspicuous and miraculous thing that draws positive attention, and most people feel compelled to express themselves about precious new life. That expression takes the form of questions, sometimes followed by recalling one’s own experience however different or similar.
Having said that, the author of the aforementioned article suffered 12 miscarriages. I believe it’s the trauma of the experience of losing a baby that motivated her to disparage natural interest, hence questions, from others about one’s pregnancy.
I wouldn’t wish a miscarriage on anyone. The trauma is both emotional and physical. One after another causes a special kind of anxiety and sensitivity about the subject of pregnancy.
Nevertheless, the sequence of conception, pregnancy and childbirth is one of God’s greatest inventions, for it, under normal circumstances, involves pleasure, mystery, anticipation and rejoicing. Few things in life are as profoundly touching.
by T.M. Burroughs