A comment too far?

As a second-time mum to be, I sometimes find it irresistible not to offer up advice to first timers, even though I recall how annoying it was to be on the receiving end of the ‘been there, done that’ comments when I was in that position myself.

One can only try not to come across as condescending, but, more often than not, I think that’s EXACTLY the way it comes across.

Or rather, that’s just the way it’s taken.

I just can’t help myself though.

I definitely think that there’s a certain type of over-sensitivity reserved only for pregnancy.

As much as one knows it’s silly; the internal reaction to even the most innocent of comments is still there.

I wasn’t too bad first time round at being touchy, but I’m sure making up for it now that I’m resembling a land locked porpoise in sweat pants.

Take, for example, the classic throwaway comment about size:

“Oh, you’re quite big for only six months.”

Or

“Really? You’re bump is very neat”

Or (my most commonly received):

“Wow, you’re way bigger than last time. But I guess that’s just second babies for you – everything’s a bit more stretched.”

Coz, yeah. That makes it ok for you to point that all out then?

Even if it is true!

I jest. Slightly.

Or rather, am making a conscious effort to laugh it off.

Plus, I find that going into a conversation stating:

“I feel huge this time around”

will nine times out of ten force the person on the other side to react immediately with a retort of:

“No you don’t, you’re looking fab/glowing/blooming”

type response, which, whilst utterly insincere, allows me to move on with my day in a better mood.

But at what point is it ok to pose comments or questions and when is it a step too far?

Another strange one that I encountered the other day was in a beauty parlour.

They were offering a good deal on a pregnancy massage and so I decided to pop in.

As a first time client, I had to fill in the usual medical & disclaimer form, plus a special “all bets are off” pregnancy one.

The pregnancy form asked me a number of quite probing things including:

1) Do I have a birth plan; and

2) Do I feel that I have enough friend and family support in the area.

Before the treatment, the teenaged beauty therapist then sat and went through it all with me.

Worse still, I found myself trying to convince her that I was going to try my best to avoid pain relief if I possibly could.

She nodded along whilst making notes for my file.

WTF!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought I was there for some oil to be rubbed on my back and a sleep.

Not for a Spanish Inquisition about my nether regions from a small bright orange woman half my age.

This form felt a tad too personal in the context of a beauty treatment.

But I just wanted my god damn massage so just answered as compliantly and efficiently as possible.

In hindsight, I should have asked her what she would have done if I had said no to number 2?

Call salon services?

My doctor?

Perhaps I’m being overly critical.

Why not ask the question?

It comes from a good place, right?

And I answered it.

Technically speaking, this validates it.

Perhaps this line of questioning is merely providing the perfect example of my own pregnancy over-sensitivity or, worse still, could even be a symptom of me fearing stigma around being placed on any kind of mood spectrum right now. By anyone.

I don’t know.

(I’m feeling fine by the way!)

What do you think? TMI or helpful line of questioning in the salon? Are there any situations you find yourselves in where others overstep the prying/straight talking line.

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14 thoughts on “A comment too far?

  1. I try my hardest to only offer advice based on my own experience when it is requested or when sharing experiences is the topic under discussion. Unsolicited advice pissed me off when we were struggling with infertility and it pissed me off during pregnancy and parenthood too. Unsolicited advice on any subject is probably unwelcome to me actually but those topics are especially emotionally sensitive and i have some vulnerabilities wrapped up in the subjects so I really don’t like people stomping their way around me in that regard. For sure that interrogation would have hacked me off. When I was a pregnant ball of raging hormones I actually probably would have walked out to be honest. My kids used the phrase “That’s none of your concern” from an early age because they have heard me say it so often. Incidentally, since everyone believes that pregnancy makes women go a bit beserk, you could always totally chew someone out for being intrusive and then get away with it because you are pregnant. Some therapeutic primal screaming for them and a potential learning tool for them.

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    • I’m going to have to remember, “that’s none of your concern” – great way to shut something down without further explanations required! I guess I didn’t mind being asked as much as I minded wondering what the lassie sat in front of me would have done if I’d taken an emotional turn which, let’s face it, is never too far out with the realms of possibility when pregnant! One of my biggest eggshell topics is if anyone mentions work to me, “and you won’t be going back to work then?” “What will you do about work” “are you planning on going back to work” etc. I used to get really embarrassed and feel the need to make out we’d scrimped and saved for years to allow me the luxury of extended maternity leave (the reality being I worked MY ass off to attain a reasonably high paid job and just didn’t go crazy on shoes & handbags). My mother-in-law once got asked when she was going to be ready to re-join the real world again! So loaded & being guilted about my SAHM (or otherwise) is a sure fire way to piss me off! Thanks, as ever, for your perspective!

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      • I get interrogated about being a SAHM all the time since I moved to America. I guess I’ve moved into an area of largely dual income households and some can’t wrap their heads around how we manage on one income. Or why I would choose to stay home with the kids. Or why I would step away from a career. But, of course, it’s none of their concern.

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      • I think I was sheltered from that when we lived in Scotland because we lived in a more “traditional” community so that values and choices seen as old-fashioned elsewhere where just a regular thing there. It was also a low cost of living area so it was possible to exist on one income for more families. Here I think I get asked at least once a week about when I’m returning to work.

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  2. In my book, you have every right to say, do, hint at or downright ask for any remark or comment that will make you, the woman who is brave enough to give birth (in itself, an amazing feat) feel good. Even for an hour. You also have every right to decide, and limit, what you respond to. So (bit of advice here, I’m also good at giving it, unsolicited): if asked questions that you don’t feel comfortable responding to, maybe try a simple smile and silence. Don’t lose your place in the queue, or your nice (deserved) massage, but also don’t be drawn into discussions you don’t feel up to, or want to have. Good luck with all! 🙂

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    • Thanks for the advice! I like your suggestion of just smiling or being silent. For the most part I’m just fascinated by how far over the line some people go without even realising. But I do also think it’s justified to acknowledge one’s own over sensitivity at times, particularly when nine times out of ten people are just making throw away small talk and/or trying to be friendly. Thanks for reading!

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  3. The salon thing seemed weird but maybe they’re wanting to know how many future customers you’ll produce. 🙂 After the child’s born the comment you always hear most is “it gets worse” no matter what the age.

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  4. Okay, #1, I would have walked out of the salon. No way is it their business! And #2, I’m way bigger than I was the first time, and if one more person points this out to me I’m going to wring their neck. I’ve actually considered lying about my due date just to get people off my back! At this point I honestly just give rough estimates – I’m more or less halfway there, I’m due sometime around February, maybe March… And don’t get me started on all those people who just want to give my belly a little pat…

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    • Oh, I’m totally with you Anna. I found myself borderline lying about how far on I was around the six month mark because so many people were like “wow.” Or what about random strangers making an approach to ask the due date?! Like why do you care? Other annoying ones for first time mums are “rest now whilst you can – ho ho” or “you’ll never have another lie in ever again” very true but the cynicism used to drive me totally bonkers! I know it about it now though of course. Stay strong!!!

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