The Good, Bad, and Unsolicited
I am not quite into the second trimester yet, but this week we ended up sharing our news with a wider circle of our friends and family. I went back to work, so I ended up telling many of my co-workers the truth about why I was gone for the past month. We also contacted a few of our close friends to let them know the news. A couple of weeks ago we also told my mother-in-law. At this point most of the “important” people know – there are just a few very good friends we are waiting to tell in person when we see them this weekend.
Of course, most people react with hearty congratulations. In fact everyone has, at least initially. We’ve gotten a variety of wonderful reactions, and of course it feels great. But then there are the more odd reactions that come afterwards. Or the unsolicited opinions and advice that seem to come in quick succession. And it has really made me appreciate the support system that I have, because many people that I normally like at least a little bit become pretty annoying when they start spouting out their opinions. Opinions I never asked for in the first place.
But let me back up. The bad comments. The worst of all, amazingly, came from my mother-in-law. It was a case of putting her foot in her mouth more than anything. She is not the most sensitive or kind person, I have to say. She has her strong points, yes. But she says things sometimes that make you wonder, WHY, oh why, would you ever say that??? Case in point. My mother-in-law has no idea that we have battled with infertility and that it took us a year and a half to get pregnant. Still, even without the benefit of that knowledge, do you think it’s okay that when my husband called to tell her the news, soon after congratulating him, she said “Well at least you know you’re not infertile!!” (WRONG! – while my husband may not be, I am! Thanks, Mother-in-law!)
A little while later, she called me to congratulate me. Again she expressed her joy, as well as her concern over my having to be on bedrest. She said a lot of nice things. Then she completely overshadowed them all by saying to me, “Well I was *hoping* there would be a pregnancy soon. It’s good to know you’re not in the category of people who can’t get pregnant!” (WRONG! – at least as far as getting pregnant naturally.) It was like a slap in the face. If I were a bolder person I would have told her just why that comment hurt so much. But seriously, what a horrible thing to say!
Then there are the unsolicited opinions. The thing is, I have a bad habit of sharing too much with people. And then people feel like I am confiding in them and therefore I must want their advice. Sometimes, I can see why. Other times, not so much. When it comes to my pregnancy, I can think of exactly ONE person whose advice I have actually asked for so far. Seriously. I mean, not counting my doctor or the books that I consult. And that one person is my friend Jen. I think you know her. She is a really great mom. She is also a really great friend. And she is good at giving advice when it is needed. We have a lot of similar values, so I trust her judgment on these things. Plus I have seen how awesome her child has turned out.
But other than Jen? There is not a single non-doctor person I want giving me advice right now. I’m sure that will change. I will ask my mom things, I may even ask my sister-in-law things. I might get desperate and ask a co-worker who has kids. But until I actually ask? I really don’t want to hear their opinions.
There are times when I ask without asking. For instance, if I tell a co-worker that I am struggling to find a comfortable position to sleep in at night, she might offer a suggestion. That is helpful. I’m okay with that. Helpful opinions are good. Criticisms or comments about the way I am already planning to do things? Not so helpful.
I know, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s only going to get worse as my pregnancy progresses, and even more so after the baby is born. I need to grow a thick skin and just ignore the bizarre and even insulting comments people will make. And I’ll get there. I’m just shocked at the fact that it has started already. Today alone, I had the following unsolicited opinions from co-workers of mine who have children under one year of age:
(1) That I should get rid of my cats.
(2) That the new car my husband and I just bought is not big enough for a family, and we should have gotten an SUV.
(3) That the amount of time I plan to take off after the baby is born (information which I did not volunteer, mind you, but which was randomly asked of me at lunch today) is “very aggressive.” (Whatever that means).
I know these people are trying to be helpful, but guess what? NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE HELPFUL. NONE. They are all negative things, they are commenting on something that I already have done or am planning to do and telling me why it is wrong or weird or bad.
Honestly, I am not as upset about all this as I sound. It is an unpleasant part of pregnancy that I knew was coming. I just wish I knew a better way to stop it. But the only thing I can think is to mentally start singing a silly song in my head or something and tune the person out. Because god forbid I should offend them while they are offending me.