Friday, September 5, 2014

These Are My Hands, pt. 2: Shit You Don't Need To Say To Pregnant Women (ever)

This is a continuation of my ranty blog post on the way pregnant women and their bodies are treated like public property, and how shitty that is (super, super shitty, FYI.) Here's a handy link, if you would like to go back and start from there.

Part of the point I was making was that people feel free to ask whatever they please, entitled to answers regardless of whether it's personal and invasive. Ditto shitty comments. Apparently you are not allowed any privacy while gestating. Keeping your personal shit to yourself is a privilege granted only to men and the unpregnant.

Ladies and gentlemen...We know you're excited for us, but please think before you speak. Here's a handy guide on Shit You Don't Need To Say To Pregnant Women.

"Finally!" "It's about time!" "We were starting to think you were infertile! Hur hur!"
*sigh* Listen, you have no idea what this person has been through. Maybe they didn't want children at all, and this was a surprise they decided to run with. Maybe they wanted to wait, or wanted a large age gap between kids. Maybe they have been trying for 10 years and only just now had success. Maybe they have had 4 pregnancies and 4 losses in as many (or fewer) years, and this is the first one that got far enough to allow them to feel comfortable announcing. Maybe this was their 3rd (and first successful) round of IVF. You just have got NO idea what they might be going through. Who cares when your co-worker has kids, anyway? This one has the potential to be very, very hurtful.

"He's measuring how big? Oh, he's going to be huge. My aunt's baby measured 8lb in utero but he really weighed 27lb and her whole butt ripped open."
No one needs to hear this. NO ONE. EVER. NEEDS. TO HEAR THIS. Keep your scary stories to yourself!  I shouldn't even have to say any anything else-- there's no good reason to share shit like this with any pregnant woman, ever, at all. We don't tell new drivers horror stories of people decapitated in messy car accidents, so why is this any different? We are already scared enough as it is, and well aware of every possible risk and every possible thing that could go wrong. Just keep it to yourself!

"Detail all your birth related choices for me."

Nope. Not your business. That's between me, my healthcare provider and my partner. Get out of my vagina and go find something better to do. :D

"Ohhh, you have one gender and you're going to have the opposite this time? PERFECT! You can be done now!"
What? No, I'm honestly asking-- what?! I/we will be done when I'm/we're done, eff you very much.

"Awwww, I bet [the father] is soooo excited to be getting a little boy!!!!"
Yes, he has a penis, so he wants a child with a penis, too! How insightful of you to notice that all men always want the very same thing! No REAL MAN wants a delicate frilly girl daughter with a delicate female daughter vagina! All girls want to do is have tea parties and cry about things because of their tiny lady hormones, anyway. They don't want to fish and wrassle and do cool shit like boys do! (Reverse all that for assumptions that the mother wanted a widdle pwinnnncesss.)

"I can't wait to meet my baybeee!!!"
Oh, I didn't know you were pregnant too! Congrats!   . . . Seriously, folks, unless you helped make it (literally), you're carrying it, or you're going to adopt it, this is not IN ANY WAY  your baby.  Think of it in Little Red Hen terms: Who found the grain, planted the grain, watered and tended the grain, harvested the grain, took it to the mill, and made bread out of the flour? The Hen. Guess whose bread that was? The Hen's, and no one else's. Unless you are my husband, my baby is NOT yours. 

"Better sleep now! HUR HUR HUR!!!"
Wait....what? Are you implying my ten solid hours of sleep a night will be coming to an end? Seriously?! Wait-- no one told me about this!! This is painfully stupid. Painfully, painfully stupid.     1) We know. I don't even understand how this is supposed to be funny.
 2) Sleep doesn't even work that way. You can't bank it and save it for later, you fucking idiot. 3) Many women have a very hard time sleeping in the later weeks of pregnancy because they are just super, super uncomfortable. They're already tired, so don't be an asshole and rub it in.

"OMG, you're HUGE!!!!" or "Are ya sure there's only one in there?! a-hyuck!"
How clever you are to notice. How about I go ahead and staple your dumbass lips shut, and then you can go fuck yourself forever. Yay!

"So, are you dilated yet?"
I don't know, you wanna check for me?  C'mon, it'll be fun! You do me, then I'll do you! The first person to ask me this is getting asked the most invasive, personal question I can come up with. Maybe something about how many orgasms they've had that week, or whether they're into anal, or something. I don't know. Again: the only people who need this information are myself, my healthcare provider and maybe my partner. Get out of my crotch, FFS. (Good god, why would anyone even ask this? Why?!)

"Haven't you had that baby yet?!"
Congratulations! You're the smartest and the funniest. No, I haven't. Isn't that hilarious. You know, I'm just holding it in so you'll keep making these very, very funny and not at all stupid comments. That's the only reason. I know nobody on Earth is as tired of me being pregnant, or as ready for this baby to come out, as you are, mail carrier/gas station attendant/distant relative. Thanks for caring. Bonus douche points if you say this three weeks before I'm even due.

And finally, this is a thing not to do, rather than a thing not to say, but: Do not lay your grubby mitts on a pregnant woman's body without permission.
How would you feel if random ass people--sometimes compete strangers-- wanted to come up and grab on you? I don't care how cute the belly is, or how close you think you are to the mother-to-be: Don't EVER touch a pregnant woman without permisson. At least ask first, you presumptuous dickheads. (Is it not a little fucked up that I even have to say this?) You shouldn't be grabbing ANYONE without permission, ever, at any time, unless you're saving their life or something. A baby belly doesn't change that. My body is not public property.

This is my belly, 
It belongs to me
And if you touch it [uninvited],
I'm going to fucking eviscerate you.

Google it.

Okay, not really, but touch my belly uninvited and I'm grabbing your balls/breasts. You've been warned, motherfuckers. :D

We know you all mean well, but please: Think before you speak, people. Chances are, it's none of your business, it's groundless gender based bullshit, or it's the same thing 4,000 other people have already said (or all of the above). ("Well, they're just exciiiitedddd!!!" is not an excuse or defense for any of this garbage-- not now, not ever.)

The best thing you can say to us? Congratulations. You're going to do a great job. It's hard, but it's so worth it. Are you getting excited? You're going to be an awesome mom, I know it. Can't wait to hear the good news. YAY.

Edited to add: Think about who you're talking to. It makes more sense that you might discuss feeding (for example) with your sister, or a close cousin, than a random woman you've never met and and will never see again, stuck next to you in a waiting room. It's just common sense stuff. Some things you can ask of/say to some people, and some stuff you should just never, ever say to anyone at all.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

These Are My Hands

It's pretty widely known amongst those of my acquaintance that I am a (sometimes passionate) feminist. Now that I am pregnant myself, I've been thinking about (re: dreading) the many, many questions asked of pregnant women. They range in how personal they are from "when are you due" to "are you dilated yet." Literally anyone will ask this shit, from mothers to grocery store clerks.

Nobody thinks anything of it, and many people ask questions like these in innocent, idle attempts to make conversation. Some are totally harmless, of course (how far along are you, do you know the gender, are you getting excited, etc.), but if you stop to consider it, a lot of the questions asked and comments made are really very personal, and for an expectant mother they may feel invasive.

When I was pregnant the first time, someone asked me at seven fucking weeks whether or not I was planning on having an epidural. That person didn't mean to be intrusive, but I was completely fucking dumbfounded.  If you are not my midwife or my partner/my child's other parent, there is no reason for you to have this information. This is none of your fucking business. I really can't imagine why anyone would even ask.

The minute a woman announces a pregnancy, her body, her child, and everything about her pregnancy is considered public property, and information about any of them is the right of anyone and everyone who wants to know. This shit is so deeply ingrained socially that we don't even think about it. It's just what you say to pregnant women, right? Apparently privacy is only the right of the nonpregnant. Mostly dudes.

This is so, so wrong! Pregnant or otherwise, I am not public property! My body is not public property. My pregnancy is not public property. My birth is not public property. My child is not public property.  The only people who need intimate information about my body, my birth plans, & etc. etc. are myself, my midwives and my husband.

I am reminded of a stupid poem I learned while working in childcare, intended to help kids learn to keep their hands to themselves [recited while patting one's own chest]:

These are my hands
They belong to me
And I'm going to keep them

Just. on. me.

My body, my pregnancy, my birth, and my baby belong to me, so please: keep your stupid body comments and your intrusive questions "just on you," okay? Next time you feel moved to ask personal questions, please check yourself. Stop and think: Do I really need to know this? What will I gain by hearing the answer?  Is this really any of my damned business?  Because the answers to these questions are probably no, nothing, and hell no.

Pregnant women everywhere will thank you. :)

A somewhat more light hearted part two can be found here.