Are You Pregnant?

Top three questions I don't want to answer, so please stop asking:
  1. "Do I look fat/ugly?"
  2. "What do you think of my new boyfriend?"
  3. "Are you pregnant?"
For the record, here are the answers (and yes, I have never met a single person for whom these answers are exempt):
  1. "You look fat/ugly only when you think you look fat/ugly. You are truly beautiful just the way you are."
  2. "You already know what I think of your new boyfriend, or you wouldn't ask me that question."
  3. "Hell no, and that's one of the most annoying and offensive questions ever."
The first question frustrates me because I don't believe that society has any right to dictate whether or not you are fat or beautiful. I, myself, struggle with how other people see me, but we're all exactly the way we're meant to be. And the sooner we wake up and realize that, the more beautiful we all become.

The second question is one that people only ask when there is something they are concerned about in their relationship. If there isn't an issue or concern, my opinion doesn't matter because flaws have been overshadowed by the attraction. This is why we date, yes?

Now, the question "Are you pregnant?" should NEVER be asked of any woman unless you are almost 100% certain already that the answer is yes. And even then, tread lightly. Most men are smart enough to know this. They're taught this their whole lives. Some boys still need some assistance in this area, though, and I hope they're reading.

You know who else needs to read this though? The three women who've asked me this in the past year (and any other women who asks this question) and don't know how to mind their own business.

Here's why it's a problem (in no particular order ~ aside from the fact that I am rambling and these things pop into my head as they do). It is important to note that, in most cases, these points also apply to the equally obnoxious questions of "do you think you'll have kids?" or "are you working/planning on having kids?":
  • Just ask what you really want to ask: "Have you put on weight?" And just so you know, backpedaling with "I'm sorry; you just had that 'glow' about you" or "Huh, I'm usually right about things like that," will not win your forgiveness or brownie points of any kind.
  • The question implies that couples who choose not to have children are somehow lesser citizens, are weird or strange, or are somehow "too selfish to have children and put their careers at risk." None of these are true nor are they your judgments to make.
  • I know, when you ask this question, you're thinking about me getting down and dirty. A large percentage of pregnancy is the direct result of said activity, after all. Frankly, it's an invasion of my privacy on several levels when you ask this. First off, this is none of your business AND secondly, it's none of your business. If I wanted to tell you, I would. And it really is that simple.
  • It's downright hurtful to a lot of women: painful reminders of children lost to miscarriage or infertility, and of being abnormal, marred, or worthless as a woman.
For years, I was grateful for any excuse to avoid baby showers. I would ask close friends (usually ones who understood the pain as well) to help me think up or plan somewhere ~ anywhere ~ I needed to be that day. I went to a few showers during those years ~ my closest friends or relatives. You know, the ones where it was less painful to endure the torture of hope and adorable futures I'd "never have" than to deal with being "the one that had better things to do than support a friend."

I screamed at the woman in the billing office of my OB-Gyn because I found out I was labeled "infertile" when a bill for an allegedly "diagnostic" procedure was billed as an "infertility treatment" and therefore not covered by my insurance. Yes, that really is how I found out. The poor woman was mortified that she'd been the one to tell me. Come to think of it, she didn't deserve my verbal abuse. She had no idea that I didn't know.

My husband and I have since been blessed by two incredible children, one through a miracle birth (I refused fertility treatments) and one through adoption (I would have chosen to do this regardless). Even so, it still hurts ~ a lot ~ when people ask. And I'm not the only one who hurts.

I respect you enough to help you understand. Please, respect me ~ and others ~ enough to think before you ask stupid questions.


Amy Good said...

All very excellent points! Pain is caused all too often from words that are spoken without thought.

Lorraine said...

Well said, Nean! Five years of wanting to be pregnant taught me to never ask that question of any woman! And then there was you and I am grateful for the blessing of both you and your brother!

Dustin said...

Very good post, I love the honesty and openess of this article.

DarkMaiden said...

I appreciate this post as a person who has trained herself to be numbed and to put on a fake smile each time a friend/family member asks when we're having kids (or if we mention ANYTHING kid related we get the "Are you trying to tell us something?"... NO, we're not!) or as I'm trying my hardest to be congratulatory and happy for each one of my friends who says "I'm pregnant!" after being married/trying for a baby for less than a year... I've written a few blogs about it, but try not to bring it up much so I don't come off as a cry-baby or as being self centered. Just smile and change the subject, keep on with the daily routines... but the pain shows up when it gets quiet again. Alone at night or on the car ride home from a shower or party where another pregnancy is announced. And it sucks, plain and simple... as you know.

Nean said...

It's kind of interesting to me that this post has generated so many comments both here and through private email and messages. Notes of gratitude for saying things that many people are either afraid or too hurt to talk about.

And yet, I was also told that it came off as almost nasty. It's truly not intended as such, but as most people understand, painful topics tend to bring out bitterness, sarcasm, and anger.

Thanks to all who have shared honestly and openly, even if privately, about a subject that is highly personal and often very painful to talk about. Awareness and honesty is key to love and understanding.

Reboloke said...

I know this doesn't really relate to your main point with this post, but I've been meaning to leave you a comment since I saw your question #2...

First sorry I've been one of the people to annoy you with that question, but I also have to say I disagree with your assessment of why people ask that. When I ask what you think of my boyfriend it doesn't mean I'm already concerned about something; it means I have a lot of trouble trusting myself. It can just as much come from a feeling that everything is right, but life likes to screw people over so I must be missing something if it feels that right. Asking what other friends think of someone can also be a way to find out more about that person than they might reveal to you if they're trying to impress you. Maybe that just sounds dumb, but...