It’s a curious thing when you’re pregnant. You find yourself in new territory, with new experiences, new shops (a great example – only pregnant couples know about Tony Kealy’s) and new conversations to be part of. As I’ve always been fascinated with language and communications, it’s that last category – the conversations and language used – that have really captured my attention during my pregnancy.
Now before you read this, can I preface this by saying that this is not meant to cause offence to folk – especially those really lovely friends who have given me great advice. You know who you are that have given some brilliant insights that have been so very welcome.
But for a laugh, here are the sentences that dominated my pregnancy:
- “That’s very common in pregnancy.”
Uttered by: My doctor. A lot.
So I had a good grasp of the obvious symptoms of pregnancy – cravings, stretch marks, back ache, constipation, heartburn – but I was so entertained just how broad and all-encompassing pregnancy symptoms can be.
It became entertaining to walk into my appointment with my doctor, list the most random ailment that was affecting me. It didn’t matter what it was – there was only one answer uttered: “Oh that’s very common in pregnancy.” Chapped edges of your mouth? Very common. Random insomnia in the early weeks that lasted throughout my pregnancy? Very common. Waking up and needing to drink a litre of water in one go like a kid gulping lemonade? Very common. First time to ever get a migraine in my life? VC.
I was so tempted to devise even more random things to see just how common are pregnancy symptoms to see if he was really listening to me or if this was just his stock answer to anything I was saying….
- “Oh my God! You are huge/so tiny! You must be due soon/are you eating enough?”
Uttered by: Anyone you meet in your daily life that enjoy passing comment. A lot.
I found this was a regular occurrence once you are pregnant. The comment passers. It is quite incredible how folk can just tell you what they think about your appearance once you are growing a human being but would never be able to say that to you if you weren’t pregnant. It is breath taking.
This was the sentence that made me laugh out loud on occasion, especially one time when a rather overweight lady who, while holding a latte and a chocolate bar, told me that I was really huuuuuge (I was around 18 weeks and really wasn’t), inferring that I really should mind myself. After laughing and politely making my excuses from that conversation, I did wonder when I was going to get a chance to comment on her appearance with the same enthusiasm….
Small, huge – commenting on size all can cause worry to a pregnant lady. See the thing is, you don’t know her medical story. Maybe she is under weight and having problems with her pregnancy. Maybe she is eating her feelings. Know that regardless what your inner Simon Cowell is screaming when you see a pregnant lady, unless you are a very close friend there are only a few things you are ever, ever allowed utter. They are:
“Look at you! You are blooming.”
“Isn’t pregnancy treating you well!”
“Aren’t you pretty neat!”
Or the ultimate…..”How are you?” Followed by complete and comment free silence.
- “This is going to change your life/Ha! Your life is OVER.”
Uttered by: parents of young kids, usually having more than one. Kids are usually under around five so house is packed full of plastic stuff and an endless stash of nappies.
This statement is akin whatever a Second Year student says to a First Year in secondary school. Remember that feeling. You know that you are no longer the bottom rung of the ladder in the school pecking order, that some other poor muggins is going to be the bewildered body wandering around searching for English class, but you are still not long enough through the process to just be cool about school in general. So the obvious is stated – “Is your life going to change. Oh is it. I know. I’ve done first year.”
I realised when the ‘your life is over’ statement was uttered that it really was not about my husband and me. This statement is about the person saying it. When it was uttered, I found it was a process of just listening as that usually haggard and slightly resigned looking person speaks about the life they had before children, and the weird servant-like existence they are now enduring. It’s for that person to reminisce longingly about their former life and to possibly dream about getting five minutes in the bathroom again to themselves. Or to put on perfume or aftershave and actually smell of that, rather than stale sick.
It has to be about them because if it was about us, then they would realise just how idiotic the statement is. My husband and I knew our lives were going to change. We did talk before trying for children. We did see our friends do this. This was not an accident. But we chose that change, rather than it being thrust on us like some kind of punishment for not paying enough taxes or dodging bin charges. We elected to do this. We had no clue how much our life is going to change. But isn’t that part of this? If you really knew the sleep deprivation and endless stream of weirdly coloured explosive poo, would you do it….?
- “You know what you should do….”
Uttered by: Parents, usually of one child under a year.
Very similar to the section above, but has a more authoritative tone. It’s like they have given birth to all children, rather than just one. Like what they have done so far with their little Johnny was the pinnacle of parenting.
I get this one. I bet I’m going to do it to others too. I just hope that I am going to firstly ask the question, “what are you thinking of doing for….” and adapt my subsequent sentences to start with, “One thing we found really useful was…” than just launching into the gospel according to us.
I hope I am also going to remember that just because a woman is pregnant, it doesn’t meant that the only topic of conversation she would like to talk about is pregnancy. With everyone. Everyone. All. The. Time. Don’t get me wrong, it is really lovely how many people now say hello and ask you how you are doing. It is very lovely. But do remember that the pregnant lady isn’t just a vessel for a baby. She may want to only talk pregnancy – but she may not. She does have thoughts and views on non-pregnancy subjects too. I promise, she does.
- “It’s a girl! You must be delighted….”
Uttered by: Women, who usually have a daughter.
This one baffled me. And will always baffle me. Because from the sound of it so far, it seems to come not from a place of Grow-The-Sisterhood-And-Make-Another-Leader but rather, Yay-Not-A-Smelly-Boy kind of region. Like I kinda wanted my own live doll to dress up and do their hair.
Firstly, just to be clear, I would have totally dressed up a boy just as much as I will my girl. After all, novelty outfits was one of the reasons my husband and I wanted to have a child. (Just kidding. Kind of.) And secondly, I know this is horribly cliché, but all I really genuinely cared for was a healthy child. Boy or girl, give me healthy. We had in fact been told it was going to be a boy – and while I had obviously never been one, I looked forward to that. I was just delighted we had a baby.
So there you have it. The phrases that I heard the most during the nine months of pregnancy. Now I wonder how many of these I’ve already mentioned to pregnant friends of mine….