This post was originally published on Role Reboot and has been republished here with full permission.
I was once the woman who secretly wanted to be a mother. By the next year, I not so secretly wanted to be a mother. Thankfully by the next spring, I was expecting my first son, but there were a lot of difficult and awkward moments along the way.
We all likely know someone who is hoping for a baby belly. Whether the fact that she is trying to get pregnant is public information or not, there’s a way to support a woman who is trying to conceive. Start by avoiding questions and statements like these:
“How long have you been trying?”
Longer than she would like, if you are asking, and it’s not her job to provide an update at every family function. If you’ve been there, you could say, “I am happy to talk about my experiences if you’d like.” If she wants to hear, she’ll ask. If you haven’t had your own experiences, you might just say, “I’m here to talk whenever you’d like.”
Many women do want to talk and they’ll appreciate the offer, but many will want to keep it private.
“I think you’re hiding something!”
She might be. She might not be. She might be nervous or not ready to share. She might be wearing baggy clothes because she is bloated and getting her period, an unfortunate moment for you to bring up pregnancy.
If she is like I was, she imagines what her un-hidden belly will look like, while staring into the mirror, searching for spots on her breasts or veins that might appear bluer. She spends time on the internet searching for other signs of pregnancy and pretend shopping for the cute maternity clothes she’ll wear when she’s no longer hiding something.
“Will this be your first?”
Don’t ask. You have no idea what she has experienced. Many women have had a miscarriage, which can be a very difficult and very painful loss, and possibly a very recent, raw piece of her puzzle. Also, one in three women have had an abortion. Whether it was an unintended pregnancy or some other reason, it’s difficult. You can trust me on this. Further, this woman may have lost a baby as an infant, or young child. You obviously have no idea how painful your simple question could be, so please don’t ask.
“It took my cousin a long time to get pregnant.”
This woman doesn’t care about your cousin. She might not be telling you how difficult it is. She probably isn’t telling you that she actually feels like she’s losing a baby every single month. She might not tell you it seems like all of her friends are pregnant and she wants to spit every time one of them has to pee. She wants to have to pee. She might not tell you but she doesn’t want to hear about other people getting pregnant. Zip it.
“You should just stop trying so hard. It’ll happen.”
Really? Because it might not. Sad, but true. She already knows it and fears it. The thought of it makes her weep a little every day. Still, a woman who is trying to get pregnant is not going to stop trying (nor should she) until she decides to. With this statement, you’re actually being a dismissive idiot. It’s her reproductive right to try to become pregnant. Seriously. Don’t tell her what to do. Also, this is just really annoying and unhelpful.