Pregnancy isn’t ‘Nam. There are rules.
1. My name has not changed to “Mom” or “Mama” or any variation thereof. In fact, the only person allowed to call me those things has not been born yet. Perhaps my husband can be an exception, when speaking about me in the third person to my child. My coming motherhood has not subsumed my existing identity.
2. It’s fine to ask me how I’m feeling. I appreciate your concern. But this doesn’t have to be the beginning of every conversation. As if you’re afraid I’ve suddenly cracked like a piece of China. I don’t have cancer. And even if I did have cancer, I’d probably rather talk about normal things. Also, if I answer with “I’m fine.” don’t ask me again like you think I’m lying.
3. You are never allowed to comment on when or how much I pee. For any reason.
4. It is never appropriate to ask me about or comment on my weight. This includes any comments or exclamations about how “big” I am or am not getting. Am I the only one who thinks this is just common courtesy?
5. Do not touch me without asking. Better yet, don’t touch me at all. If the moment is right, and we mutually desire a hug, you will know because I’m approaching you with open arms. (Of course, you also have the right to refuse said hug.) If we are related and I really like you, I might invite you to feel the baby kick. However, just because I’m busy creating a new life does not mean my stomach (or any other part of my body) has become public domain. Feel free to ask me about the baby’s movements. They are entertaining, and I enjoy talking about them.
6. Every action I take or perceived change in my behavior is not related to pregnancy, so please don’t assume that it is. Doing so is the equivalent of asking me if I’m on my period because I’m in bad mood. If you want to discuss pregnancy symptoms with me, ask. I will discuss whatever I’m comfortable with at that moment. As stated in #2, I don’t want to talk about this all the time.
7. If it looks like I need help, ask me. I do sometimes need help, and may need more as the pregnancy progresses. However, don’t assume you know my current abilities or restrictions. I like to—and can—still do a lot of things for myself.
8. I love it when other women (or men!) share their pregnancy and birth stories with me. This has probably been one of the most useful and enjoyable effects of pregnancy. I get to learn valuable information about the birth process, and I get to learn about a very important moment in someone’s life. Being a woman—being human—is made so much richer when we share our stories with one another, good and bad.
9. Given my love and enthusiasm for birth stories, please do not cross the line of assuming your experience or preferences will be the same as mine. If there’s any universal truth about pregnancy, it’s that the experience is varied. I value knowing what happened to you and how you felt, what choices you made, but you should never assume that I will have the same hopes, fears, pains, or food aversions you did. In fact, just don’t assume anything. Let’s make our exchange a dialogue, not a lesson.
10. No, I’m not telling you the sex. Expect an entire blog post of reasons why, but the most important reason is that my husband and I have decided not to. No, you won’t change my mind. Please avoid comments about my belly size or position pointing to one sex or another (see #4). Feel free to guess, but you’ll find out when everyone else finds out. Maybe take a page out of our book and stop caring so much about it.