32 weeks ago when I first found out I was pregnant, I was extremely conscious about not turning my blog into a “Mommy” blog, even as I became one myself. Although I have written about my big fat feminist pregnancy already, as this experience nears to a close, I came up with a list of inquiries I found the most annoying during my pregnancy that I had to share:
- “Have You Chosen a Name?” This nosy question is something my husband and I were posed with throughout the past near nine months. We still are. As new expectant parents, we were not only unprepared on how to handle this curiosity, but on how opinionated people, especially our own family members, are about the potential names we liked. “That’s ugly,” or “Eww, I don’t like that name!” were such common responses, we finally broke the news that the only opinion that mattered in this matter were ours. I completely understand now why parents to be keep their name choices secret! What I don’t understand is why people care and think you should care about what they think.
- “Can I touch your belly?” Although people coming up and asking this particular question is perhaps amongst the top complaints from most pregnant women, I did not mind it happening to me as much as I did being asked if I minded it. People I know such as my friends, family, and colleagues were always so considerate about putting their hands all over my stomach (it still is my stomach you know!). But it was strangers, random people who came up to me as I stood in line at my local coffee shop who touched my stomach that I was caught off guard by. That being said, personally for me I think the baby likes feeling positive energy and love, from friends and strangers alike.
- “Are you having weird cravings?” While I did not have any cravings during my pregnancy, I was asked whether I had any almost on a daily basis. Maybe that’s why I did not have any! This is another cliché expectant moms get asked about, and it is also another example of how nosy people are. Seriously, do you really want to know what I am craving? Are you going to whip it up for me?
- “Are you going to stop working?” This question should actually be on top of my list because being asked this constantly at the start of my pregnancy almost made the feminist in me go insane. Granted it was mostly by older women, who had stopped working (and never went back) once they had children, but seriously, why would I stop working? Anybody want to ask my husband if he won’t be working anymore? Yes, yes I know there are a lot of needs the baby has that I naturally have to attend to, and many women do indeed stop going to the office. But you have got to be kidding me that as a woman I should be the one ready to give up my career and identity as I gain another one. Just because I got pregnant does not mean I am going to be a housewife. While I respect women who do make that choice for their families, I think it is so important that my daughter sees both her mom and dad go to work.
- “Your daughter is going to be a princess!” This is more of a statement than a question, but can I tell you how nauseating navigating the pink, princess-themed, sparkle in excess world of toys and clothes for baby girls has been? As a feminist though it has been particularly disturbing. Why is baby world so gendered? Why are all the sports, medicine, and boating themed nursery furniture for boys? Heck, even the jungle themed toys are for boys! What’s left for the girls? Why, the castles, sparkly shoes, and princesses of course. Anything that remotely resembles a fairytale theme is geared towards girls. No wonder women grow up with such skewed ideas of relationships, life and their roles in both. No wonder young women still waste so much time thinking an ideal partner will rescue them from working and earning their own living. This message we give little girls that they are princesses may come across as cute, but it’s more unhealthy and dangerous than anything else. My daughter is going to have to work really hard in her life to get anywhere. That’s what bothers me most about fairytales- it encourages women and girls to remain passive and helpless in their approach to life instead of being proactive. It’s completely unrealistic and damaging. I am not going to waste anytime in making sure my child understands the value of hard work, and that wearing a big pink dress while sighing hopelessly out her window in anticipation of some man is not going to happen. Nor should she want it to.
Aside from these complaints, and a really tough first trimester, the experience of being pregnant has been unbelievable. It has also been great how people seat you first when you arrive at restaurants, hold the elevator door for you, and let you jump in line.
I also love how pregnancy brings women together, how we help one another with tips, solutions and advise on everything from choosing the right bottle to breastfeeding options, to finding the best car seat and stroller. Baby world is a whole other planet and the best resources to help you navigate it are other moms! Your very own included.
As it draws to a close, and the more anxious I get to meet my daughter, I think back a lot to the past eight months, how my body transformed and continues to change to accommodate everything my baby needs. The other day I read how your baby will never be as safe as it was during this time when it was inside your stomach. It is so incredible that women are capable of pregnancy. Men could never do it! They could never do it.
I loved discovering how women continuously come together to celebrate the upcoming arrival of your baby. As a Bangladeshi, the whole concept of baby showers and baby registries were very new to me. I really love and appreciate how so many traditions around welcoming the baby are put together for a woman by other women in her life. Feeding and giving presents to a pregnant woman is never a bad idea!
But if you really want to help a pregnant woman out during her nine months, be considerate and if I have anything to say, avoid the things I have listed in my top five pregnancy don’ts.
Oh and stop telling her how huge she looks. Trust me, she knows.
*This post of mine was also published on Forbes Woman.
Dear Mrs. Hossain,
Thanks for your blog. Noting your comment on fairytails, I recommend you look at Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan. It’s the alternative/cure to Disney-Princess syndrome.
All the best,