Did you ever get asked, “Are you expecting?” and actually like that question?
How about if someone asked your partner, or your parent, or your best friend if you were?
Everywhere from your in-laws’ kitchen table to the tabloids at the grocery check out, there is an exploitive nature around finding out someone is pregnant. “Is Kim Kardashian expecting another or is it just a food baby?”
And we know this isn’t an experience specific to celebrities. “Did you see the baggy sweater Susie was wearing? Is she hiding something?” Sound familiar?
Why are these questions being asked?
Pregnancy, and getting pregnant, can be hard. For anyone that has ever been actively on the “trying to conceive” journey, each month without a positive pregnancy test can be brutal. It’s not helpful for your cubicle-mate to then whisper to your boss when you skip the martinis at the work Christmas party during your “two week wait.”
Is your friend not drinking or smoking anymore and suddenly eating super healthy? Prenatal vitamins sitting on your sister-in-law’s counter? Many people — even women — seem to forget that many of those things line up with just preparing to conceive.
There’s also the unspoken “rule” of not revealing a pregnancy until the miscarriage rate drops outside of the first trimester. That’s anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks of “hiding” a pregnancy. Now, there’s a conversation to be had on why this unspoken rule exists — if someone wants to reveal a pregnancy early and it does end up a loss, they should feel supported.
But as many women have experienced, the reactions to a miscarriage are a mixed bag. From the “Everything happens for a reason” to the “It wasn’t a real baby yet though, right?”, women often face these well meaning but often misguided comments. So, many pregnancies continue to be hidden.
I write all this with the full caveat of: I am guilty. I’ve done this out of misguided empathy. Years ago, I knew a recently married bridesmaid of mine was planning a family, and I probed when dresses could be safely ordered.
More recently, I jokingly asked a cousin (who is a fellow alcohol-fan) what she was drinking, knowing she had confessed to being on the trying train months before. I knew how hard it was to hide my own pregnancies because everyone knew how big of a craft beer fan I was.
She must have been used to the comments, though, as she immediately responded, “I’m not pregnant.” We ended up sharing a discussion on early losses, and I felt horrendously guilty for making her feel she needed to explain any of it.
So learn from my mistakes. Learn from this piece. If someone is pregnant and hasn’t told you, it’s because they don’t want to tell you. This isn’t them keeping a movie spoiler away from you or keeping your surprise party a secret — it’s none of your business. Ever.
So next time you feel compelled to figure out if someone’s knocked up, maybe just ask, “How are you doing?” instead of “Are you pregnant?”
If you get the answer you’re looking for, problem solved! Otherwise — wait for the Facebook announcement.