I was at the vet's office recently (shocker) and asked the receptionist when she was due. It has been evident to me that she was pregnant for quite a while, but I wanted to be SURE-sure that she was before I congratulated her because I do not want to be the one to inadvertently tell someone that they've just gained so much weight that they look like they're about to give birth. She's 7 months along, so I was safe in asking. And then, in my mind at least, the conversation became very awkward.
Here's the thing. For the most part, pregnant women are ridiculously happy about the baby they're expecting. Most of the women in my life have had planned or at least very welcomed pregnancies, and even those who were surprised in a less-than-awesome way had come around by the time they were 7 months along and were at least excited to meet the wee one they'd been incubating for over half a year. Because babies are miracles. And every mom loves her child, whether that child is able to be held in her arms or whether she's still waiting for that day to come.
So why the awkward? Because society has issues. Big ones. And they don't want to deal with them, but instead want me to instinctively know what their issues are and never bring them up. It has come to the point where you can't ask a pregnant woman much of anything, or tell her anything from your own experience, and that leaves a whole lot of awkward silence after the initial "congratulations!" How do you bring up the fact that someone is anticipating one of the most joyous days of their lives and then just drop it without talking about the very thing you brought up? Awkward.
I most certainly cannot comment that she waited a while before having kids. (Although I'm not really certain when she got married, so that may or may not be the case. I just know she's been employed at the vet's office for years.) I can't even ask how long she's been married, because that would be the same as asking how long she waited before becoming pregnant, in a roundabout way. I did ask if she knew if she was having a boy or a girl, and then that was the extent of a conversation. That's it. Two questions. Great conversation, huh?
I can't advise her that she needs to get sleep now, or to cherish every moment because babies grow up so fast, or even that boys are a handful and worth every gray hair. These things have become offensive to people to hear. I absolutely cannot comment on her size or even vaguely reference it. In fact, if I say "so you've got two more months" that could be construed as saying "wow, you're huge! I thought for sure you were ready to go any day."
Honestly, adults. Grow up. Babies are amazing things. Everyone loves them. Everyone is excited about the impending arrival of a new baby. We want to talk about the miracle. But your insecurities have made it so that we can't say much of anything at all. And is that what you want? To be ignored? Because I can wager that there are a fair number of ladies that would be offended by that as well. ("I'm clearly pregnant, and she's known me forever. Why wouldn't she even ask about the baby?")
So here is my question to the pregnant world: What CAN we talk about when I want to express my congratulations over your pregnancy?