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FOR THE LAST TIME,
I’M
NOT PREGNANT

By Sharon Naylor

From Radiance Summer 1998

As a woman of ample proportions and in my childbearing years, I’ve been approached by complete strangers and asked when I’m due to give birth. Just because I have a slightly rounded belly, am blessed with C cups, wear oversized shirts, and am in my twenties, they assume that I must be pregnant.

At first, I treated it casually. I was already used to the well-meaning questions of my family, who were eager to see our family’s first grandchild. To my family, I would respond with a smile, “You’ll be the first to know when it happens”: the kind and polite response I had learned from the etiquette columns.

With strangers, at first, I’d allow them to put their hands on my stomach. I would be greatly amused when they would swear that they felt the baby kick!

Soon, it was not so much fun to be on the receiving end of “Are you pregnant?” and “When are you due?"—especially when I began to have troubles with infertility and miscarriages. Can you blame me? One time, I went over the edge, screaming, “No, I’m not pregnant: I’m fat!” to a long-time-no-see cousin at a bridal shower, bringing her to tears. She felt awful and I felt worse.

So I decided then and there to laugh it off and to have some fun coming up with as many tactful comebacks as possible to those prying questions.

Nowadays, when I hear, “So, when are you due?”—the most common phrasing of the big assumption, or, rather, the assumption of why I’m big—my response, accompanied by a shrug, is “I have no idea.” Because I don’t. If I’m in a particularly bad mood owing to yet another negative pregnancy test, I’ll come back with, “And how about you?" (They think twice about asking next time!)

When I hear, “So, when’s the blessed event?" I smile blissfully and say, “Oh, my wedding was four years ago.”

When the comment is, “I see you’re expecting,” I have a reply ready: “I’m expecting a lot of things, but a baby isn’t one of them.”

When the question is, “So how far along are you?” my answer is, “Twenty-seven years.”

I have two sarcastic responses when my patience wears very thin. When the offender squeals and comes out with, “I didn’t know you were pregnant!" I feign shock and say, “I didn’t know either! How did you know?" Or I just look down at my body in amazement and say, “I am? So that’s what’s going on! I was wondering about that.”

The rare but top prize winner in rudeness is “You’re so pregnant!" To this, I reply, “You’re so wrong” or “You’re so rude,” depending on how well I know the perpetrator.

All of my responses leave the speaker stunned, and I’m then free to explain my lack of an “interesting condition." I do so with a good-natured smile, not a sneer.

It takes a big effort to be considerate of the feelings of those inconsiderate of yours, even when the comment is unintentionally hurtful.   But the best antidote to a remark that causes pain is an answer that is pleasant, pointed, and tactful. It tells people not to repeat their mistake.  And it’s far better than breaking down into tears and getting so upset that you hear from well-meaning friends, “Wow, that’s some mood swing. Are you pregnant?  I didn’t know you were pregnant.  When are you due?”

SHARON NAYLOR is the author of 100 Reasons to Keep Him . . . 100 Reasons to Dump Him (Three Rivers Press, 1998) and the wedding planner CD-ROM, Create the Wedding of Your Dreams (Sofsource, 1998).

 

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