First of all, people are rude and I’m so sorry about this. Generally speaking, as soon as people find out you are expecting, they will feel an overwhelming need to impose their experience, opinions, and idiocy onto you. Ironically, those you want to hear from most will be the most respectful of your boundaries. In any case, I decided to put together a list of stupid things people say to pregnant women.
When you’re having twins, this effect is multiplied.
Here’s the thing: there’s a sisterhood one joins with pregnancy, and engaging with that is undeniably wonderful. But your pregnancy and your birth are about you and your partner, not about all of the other people who, in their excitement and occasional thoughtlessness, accost you with their experience. I hope you can find a way to let this flow off your back. This will not be easy, but when you are accosted by someone in the grocery store who is convinced you’re having a boy (when you’re having twin girls) or by someone who really needs to tell you about how uncomfortable THEY are with how big your stomach has grown, try to smile and breathe. Try to remember that this has nothing to do with you. The sight of a pregnant woman brings out all kinds of emotions, memories, and baggage which is absolutely about the speaker, not at all about you. The person who comments on your weight every day is struggling with their own. The person who tells you about perineal massage had an amazing experience with increasing their flexibility or a terrible experience with tearing. Either way, it’s not about you.
Ladies, I’m not trying to say that letting go of these comments is easy. There were a few moments when I almost bit somebody’s head off, and there were others that I vented about with my best friend for hours after. The point, though, is that the people who say awful and uncomfortable things to you are not, for the most part, motivated by a desire to cause you discomfort or pain. Most of them are just as vulnerable and anxious as you, and they’re expressing themselves from that place. Learning to react to other people’s impositions by breathing and letting go really helped me feel more empowered throughout my pregnancy, even as the rude comments increased at what felt like an exponential rate.
To help prepare you and hopefully make you laugh, I’ve made a list of some of the more ridiculous things I’ve been told.
Stupid Things People Say To Pregnant Women
1. “Wow, you look like you’re about to drop! How much time you got left?”
Ladies, I know. This is terrible. What the hell. Just smile. I know it’s frustrating when people refer to you in these vulgar ways, but they are just going to do it. If you can say something very calmly, I encourage you to do so. If your mood is anything less than the zen Mother Theresa, though, the person you’re speaking to will just think you’re being hormonal.
2. Massage Advice…for your perineum…
“You should do perineal massage, starting now. You don’t want to tear, that’s terrible. Just get your partner to get in there with like four fingers and some coconut oil and make him go at it. It’ll hurt like hell but you won’t tear.”
First of all, nobody but you, your partner, and your doctor should ever be talking about your perineum, unless you bring it up. But get this: a MAN said this to me. He meant well, I’m sure, but it was shocking — and has nothing to do with me. He was extremely earnest, and probably just trying to help, so I didn’t bother to explain that a lot of women do tear, that doctors may need to make a cut, and episiotomy is scary enough without his tear-shaming. If this happens to you and the possible misogyny bothers you, I encourage you to have that conversation; I’d do it at a later moment when you’re less angry, though. In this case, I thought he was genuinely trying to help, so I just listened and tried to laugh about it later.
3. “Twins! You won’t be able to keep eating them salads, you’re going to have to start eating that real food. Want me to get you some fried chicken?”
Again, this is not about you. This is about their feelings about their weight and their inability to diet. Just smile and say no thanks. Eat what you, your doctor, and your partner feel comfortable with you eating.
4. “You’re carrying it so well, though!”
Just say thank you. Move on. Don’t think about what this means.
5. “You get bigger every day, I swear! I can see it!”
This strange tracking of your size is actually other people trying to form an intimate connection. It’s weird, but if you embrace it, it’s sweet to see how many people care about you. It feels different when it’s a friend than when it’s a rando or an acquaintance.
6. “Wow, it’s funny shaped, isn’t it?”
This isn’t about you or your belly, it’s about that person’s unmitigated stupidity. I usually say, VERY awkwardly, “Um, I guess so. There are people in there, after all.” Even though we know and understand that people’s comments are about them and not us, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable when they say something THAT thoughtless.
7. “So when do you start bed rest?”
This is usually about the other person’s anxiety about being Extremely Pregnant and their perceptions and experiences surrounding pregnancy. You have two choices. You can say, “Soon, I hope!” thus validating their concerns, or you can say, “Actually, bed rest is quite rare, and only prescribed in cases of early labor or preeclampsia.” It used to be very commonly prescribed, and that perception hasn’t changed yet. Towards the end you may feel like resting, but that’s your business and your decision.
8. “You’re getting so big, I just can’t look at you. I’m going to get you a harness.”
I just said no thanks and had a conversation about the best way to keep support muscles toned.
9. “Oh, what are you having?” Me: “Twin girls.” Them: “No, you’re having a boy. Just look at how low you are carrying.”
This person was clearly either stupid or insane. Neither of those things were about me. So, I just said, “That’s interesting,” and kept walking.
10. “Do you know what you’re having?”
This is not actually a yes or no question. They are asking you to tell them the gender of your baby, and if you reply, “Yes, twins,” they will then demand the genders, immediately. I didn’t mind sharing that I am having girls, at first, but after answering those questions for months, I’m definitely reconsidering that opinion: it feels pretty invasive when people demand that information and then say something snarky about the challenges of raising girls. Fact is, though, it’s going to feel like you’re being invaded all the time, whether you answer the question or not. Not answering won’t make random people in HomeGoods less curious, nor will it make snarky colleagues less snarky. As much as this sucks, you’ll just have to remind yourself that it’s not about you: they’re asking because they want to make some kind of connection to their world or experience, through you. You can’t make it stop, so you might as well smile and enjoy the attention as best you can. (If you don’t seem to enjoy their questions, they’ll tell you that being stressed is bad for your babies.)
11. “Have you picked out names?” See above.
12. “Twins! I would never do that!”
Really? B**** please, it’s not a choice. You would do it or you would have an abortion. Are you telling me to have an abortion in a casual conversation in a hallway? Yes? No? Either way, that’s wildly inappropriate, and also… not about me, or, if someone says this to you, not about you. This person clearly struggles with their own kids or with the thought of kids. Breathe, and let it go! I think what I said was, “I’m actually really excited, I’m sorry you don’t feel the same way,” and walked off. Not my proudest moment, but not the worst.
13. “You’re due in January? Yeah, no way you make it past Christmas.”
This is a pretty common one, and it’s pretty hard to let go, because preterm birth is a scary and frequent issue with multiples. But it’s really not anybody else’s business. While this statement is really about them, their experience, and their pessimism, this is one of the times when I feel like it’s right to push back at the person, if only because I can see how some mothers would be moved to extreme anxiety when confronted with these statements on a regular basis. I usually tried to say something like, “Well, full term is ____, and I would appreciate your support as I try to focus on making it to that date.” There are a lot of things that we should just let go of because we can’t change people. There are some things that people need to learn to stop saying.
14. “Twins! No way you’ll be breastfeeding, then.”
This is another thing that probably touches on a lot of anxiety for the mother because of the tendency in today’s society to guilt women who don’t breastfeed. I think this statement, which is surprisingly common, has a lot to do with the speaker’s anxiety about breastfeeding and caring for children. Try to stay calm and respond to their anxiety, not your anger. “I’m sorry that sounds stressful for you,” is a good option, but give yourself a moment to breathe before you say anything. They aren’t thinking about how their anxiety is pushing at your own.
15. From that colleague whose full name you don’t even know
“How’re my twins?” What?
“How’s your cervix? You aren’t dilating yet, are you?” I was asked this in my classroom, not by a medical professional.
16. “You’re delivering at X—-? I had the worst time there. Oh, it was awful. They [insert overly specific and terrifying information about your hospital].”
Yes, this is really uncomfortable, and people shouldn’t say things like this. But it’s not about you. You did your research. You’re having twins, so you’ve likely met with your doctor every two weeks since you were 14 weeks — or you will. You’ve taken the class, you’ve asked questions, you’ve done your research on the NICU and the hospital’s birthing policies. The person you are speaking to is just sharing an intimate part of their lives, they are NOT trying to hurt you or upset you. It’s not about you, my friend. It’s not. Just listen, or ask them to stop if it’s really bothering you, but I think it helps to listen with empathy and let the sharing of that story bring you closer as friends.
17. All the birth stories.
Listen, people will find out you’re pregnant and they will tell you all about what happened in their birth, their friend’s birth, their second cousin’s birth — and much of it will be scary, much of it will be full of inadvertently judgmental comments, and most of it will not apply to you in the least. This is hard, especially when they end the conversation with, “So, when you go into labor [insert inappropriate/terrifying/well-intentioned comment here]. Look, this is not about you. It seems like entry into the Sisterhood of Women Who Have Given Birth is littered with crucibles like this one. You pass it by listening, appreciating that your sister had a birth experience to share, and then knowing that whatever your birth experience winds up being, it’s valid and amazing because it’s yours. Later, you’ll probably share your story with someone else.
18. On a Positive Note, This is all good Practice
Look at all these comments as opportunities to practice letting go of the crazy judgmental crap which is about to come your way, from both inside your head and out, as soon as you push these people out of you.
You got this.