Inspiration for this Post
On Friday, Papa Cheeks and I went to the Avett Brothers concert (it was wonderful, thanks for asking). Before the concert, we went to dinner with a group of friends (new and old, silver and gold) at a restaurant conveniently walking distance to the venue.
This particular restaurant is one that only sees a waitlist during the night of a concert, and only because of its insanely fitting location (and free parking). The food is decent, but nothing to brag about, and the service equates the food. To give you an idea of the usual, non-concert atmosphere of the place, there was one bartender working while we were there (and the place was jam-packed) because she was the only bartender who works there.
Naturally, the bartender took 20 minutes to make our first set of drinks. The servers were undoubtedly assigned too many tables to provide quality service to anyone. The whole night was set up for failure. So, when our very stressed, very pregnant, probably third-trimester waitress walked out because she couldn’t handle the pressure, we weren’t super surprised.
However, the douchebaggery that ensued in correspondence to her walk-out left the entire table of nine speechless.
If you have nothing nice to say…
After our waitress walked straight to the back of the restaurant and through the exit door, we chatted for a second, to clarify we all saw the same thing.
A waitress confirmed: “yeah, she left,” she said, “your waitress quit.”
So, we talked some more, “What does that mean for us?” “How are they going to know what everyone ordered?” “Who’s going to serve us now?” “Am I going to get that second drink, or…?”
And then the manager comes by:
“Sorry guys, I don’t know what your server’s problem was, she probably ran out to have her baby or something, heh heh.”
The entire table: *silence* *stares*
Me: just stop talking and give me my food, we have a concert to get to.
The manager, apparently thinking we didn’t hear him, or maybe just giving one more attempt at “humor” since his last joke didn’t get the reaction he was looking for:
“I guess she had pre-partum depression or something, heh heh, heh heh.”
The entire table again sat in silence, as this moron kept trying to “explain” his waitress walking out of this classy establishment.
(First of all, as someone who is very well-versed in both pre-partum and post-partum depression, I can tell you right now that someone’s emotional state is not something you joke about, never mind to a group full of strangers. Secondly, we don’t want your damn humor, guy, we want a sincere apology, and then maybe a few meal comps – because that is good customer service, not shit-talking on a clearly stressed, probably hormonal, definitely ex-employee.)
We eventually got our food sorted out, none of our meals (or drinks) comp’d, and we gave really poor tips.
The sad part was, after talking to everyone at the table, we agreed this mama was noticeably stressed out, and we were unanimously going to compensate for her shitty night at the end of our dinner, so she could at least go home feeling half-way satisfied about the outcome of the stress she went through.
(I even went to the extent of trying to find her on Facebook so I could tell her how great she had done, considering the circumstances of working in an ill-prepared restaurant with douchebag managers, and also to tell her I had been there – both pregnancy-wise and waitress-wise – and ALSO to let her know we hoped she was OK. My feelers told me to give her the tip through Facebook Pay, or whatever it’s called, to give her some silver-lining to the night… but to no avail, she was un-stalkable.)
A Lesson (for anyone who doesn’t know how to regard pregnant women)
I took a little survey with my friends who are familiar with things that drive pregnant women crazy (and what, contrastingly, makes them feel good).
Here’s a few examples of what not to say, the reasons why you shouldn’t say them, and some alternatives.
- DO NOT give unsolicited advice
No one, pregnant or otherwise, wants you to tell them what to do, so why on this beautiful earth would you think it’s okay to tell a pregnant woman? Pregnancy did not take away her ability to make decisions for herself (wuuuttt?).
- This includes (but is not limited to):
- Your opinion on the mama’s food intake (or lack-there-of)
- Birthing decisions
- “A hard no is when people would ask if I was getting an epidural, and then pass judgment on me for not wanting to feel my body being ripped open.” – Cheeky Anonymous.
- Post-birth decisions (circumcisions, breastfeeding, vaccines, etc.)
- Telling her that her whole life is basically about to end (like sleep, or friends, or spontaneity, or anything else I’ve listed in the S is for Sacrifice blog post).
- PS: I realize this isn’t really advice, but it still falls under the “unsolicited” category. She’s already going through a shit-ton of changes, so shoving all the upcoming ones in her face will only put on more stress – plus, she probably didn’t ask you to tell her all the super fun details about her life’s unavoidable catapult into motherhood, so the wise move is to let her (organically) figure it out on her own (or read a blog post like this… merp).
Basically, if you feel the need to control something, then have your own baby (or hush), because free-will allows a mama to do what she wants and how she wants
(as long as she’s not, like, shooting up heroin, obviously)
DO: Tell her how great of a mom she’s going to be. EVERY mama worries about how they’re going to do (or how they’re doing) as a parent. Reassure her that she’s already a GREAT MOM, no matter her parenting decisions!
2. DO NOT: Talk about her big ole belly
Most pregnant mamas feel DISGUSTING throughout their pregnancy, no matter how great they actually look. They feel fat, they feel bloated, they feel tired, and their bodies are changing – which means they are uncomfortable AF, so commenting on that very sensitive subject just makes her focus on the feels even more. It’s really just mean, if you think about it.
- This includes (but, again, is not limited to):
- Saying how huge she is
- Saying how tiny she is
- Mentioning how much weight she’s gained
- Pointing out the “waddle”:
- ASKING IF SHE IS HAVING TWINS.
- First of all, if she’s having more than one baby, then chances are pretty big she’s going to tell you at some point. Asking is only going to set you up for failure, because no matter how harmless the question is, you’re going to sound like a real flippin’ jackass.
- Telling her she looks like she’s ready to pop.
- Like, what?
- A) If she is “ready to pop,” certainly she’s feeling great already, so that’s surely going to make her feel super good about her appearance. Plus, I’m sure she’s like so stoked to push a human out of her normally small vag, so why don’t you remind her of the whole thing? (Also, what does “ready to pop” mean? Like what, exactly, is going pop?)
- B) If she’s not “ready to pop,” then not only are you sounding like an asshole again, but you’re going to make her feel like a freaking dinosaur. Leave her and her due date alone, okay?
DO: Tell her how beautiful she is. You have no idea how much pregnant mamas need to hear this. They feel so yucky already, that someone telling them how gorgeous they are, how perfect their baby bump is, or how great pregnancy looks on them can brighten their whole day. So brighten their day, guys. If you want to talk about how she looks, tell her how great she looks.
3. DO NOT: Meddle in her personal life (or get in her bubble).
- NEVER ASK A MAMA IF THE PREGNANCY WAS PLANNED.
- This should be pretty obvious, but sometimes people don’t know when to shut the eff up. It is not your business if the pregnancy was planned. If you’re going to ask this super sensitive (and personal) question, then while you’re at it you might as well ask the time she conceived, and where, if she was intoxicated, and if she orgasmed. What difference does it make? What is asking her going to change? She’s pregnant, right? She’s having the baby? So move on – this question is irrelevant (and, god forbid she was a rape victim. How fucking brutal would that question be to someone who’s dealing with a trauma?)
- Leave her belly alone.
- You wouldn’t go up to someone without a baby inside of them and rub her (or his) belly, so don’t rub hers. It’s weird, and she still has a personal bubble. If she tells you that you can touch it (for whatever reason), then sure… but it’s really not your belly to touch, so keep off the merchandise.
DO: Tell her congratulations. Having a baby is a BEAUTIFUL, life-changing thing that needs to be CELEBRATED. The mamas who weren’t planning to be mamas especially need this celebration, because they are voyaging into a life they didn’t plan for (or necessarily want). So tell them all of the wonderful things that parenthood has to offer, and remind them that motherhood is the most amazing gift that they will ever be given. This, above all, is what they need to hear…
I’m sure there are more don’ts, like joking someone has “pre-partum depression,” and other bullshit of sorts. But, hopefully, you get the point: if the conversation wouldn’t happen with someone who’s not pregnant, then don’t think it’s okay for someone who is!
Easy as that, really.
- Bring on the compliments:
Compliments and other positive vibes are always winners – especially, because (like I said) most pregnant women are feeling super crummy, and a compliment can go really far.
- Tell her she looks beautiful, or how great pregnancy looks on her
- Tell her she’s glowing
- Tell her how perfect her baby bump is
- Tell her congratulations
- Ask her how she’s feeling (there’s a very emotional human behind that bump, you know)
- Tell her how great of a mom she’s going to be
- , etc., etc.
- It’s so not difficult to a) use your brain, and b) be kind.
Pregnant ladies are going through major changes, and the toughest job they’re ever going to have has just begun. Be sympathetic, and keep your judgments to yourself.
A big thanks to everyone who gave their input for this post!