I had an *ahem* interesting interaction last night, and I mulled over it all night and all day, and talked it over with some friends. I’ve decided to address it here in the hopes of improving interpersonal relations everywhere. The following is a description of said interaction.
I am saying goodbye to clients at our annual Client Appreciation event, handing out gift bags and making small talk.
Me: Thank you so much for coming, here’s a gift for you!
Client: Oh thank you, and good luck with your… *gives me significant nod and smile*
Me: *stares blankly*
Client: You know… *gives another significant smile*
Me: *stares blankly*
Client: …when are you due?
Me: *gapes open-mouthed while contemplating reply* …oh, I’m not expecting… *nervous laughter*
Of course, the client was mortified, and apologized. And then felt the need to feel my stomach and say, “Oh, of course you’re not pregnant!”
At the time, I just laughed it off. I was tired and I’d had a cocktail and quite frankly I just wanted to go home. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because a) I was wearing one of those blousy, oversized shirts that vaguely resemble maternity wear, b) I carry all my excess weight around my middle, and c) my skin has been GREAT lately, so she may have mistaken it for that “pregnancy glow.”
However, the more I thought about it, the less OK with it I was. Which prompted the creation of this post.
So here’s the promised Public Service Announcement:
UNLESS YOU ARE 1000% PERCENT SURE A WOMAN IS PREGNANT, NEVER, EVER COMMENT ON WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A PREGNANCY. Also, NEVER TOUCH A STRANGER’S STOMACH AFTER MISTAKING HER FOR A PREGNANT WOMAN (or any other time, really).
Now let’s talk about why.
The first and most obvious reason you should never say something like “Congratulations on your bundle!” or “When are you due?” to a woman you are not absolutely certain is pregnant is because if the woman you are addressing is not, in fact, pregnant, she will assume you think she’s fat. Luckily for my client, I’m not the type to bring about a direct confrontation. However, there are women out there who could feel perfectly justified in punching you in the face for making such an error (I’m looking at you, Kellie).
The second reason you should never comment on a possible pregnancy without being sure is a little less obvious, and definitely more sensitive. What if the woman you are addressing is in the process of trying to conceive, but having fertility issues? What if she’s had a recent miscarriage, or lost a baby? Having someone congratulate a woman in that situation on a non-pregnancy would be devastating. Maybe I’m overly touchy about this subject because I have a lot of friends with fertility issues, but this is stuff I think about. And then of course, on top of this, she now thinks you think she’s fat (see above).
Lastly, it is NEVER OK to touch a stranger without his or her consent. And this is coming from the mouth (fingers?) of one of the most touchy-feely people you’ll ever meet. But seriously. Different people have different personal space bubbles and different boundaries depending on the situation. Having that woman grab my stomach, one of the areas of my body I’m most self-conscious about, after basically telling me I’m fat, made me feel… less than. Less than what, I don’t know. But it was like I was a brood mare and she was just grabbing me to check if I was ready to be mounted. It felt icky.
I understand that most people want to share in the joy and excitement surrounding a pregnancy, but let the people who are pregnant share the news with you first, and then commence celebrating. It will save everyone a lot of awkwardness and face punching.
Ladies, have you ever been mistaken for a preggo? How did you handle it?