Sunday, December 15, 2013

Verbal Diarrhea - The Pregnancy Edition

The Filter. A lovely and effective part of our brain which allows one to think before speaking. When our filters are working properly, we are able to engage in meaningful and pleasant conversations with others without insulting the people with whom we are speaking. Sometimes, our filters can malfunction. This often comes with little to no warning and can have disastrous results, leaving the recipient of the unfiltered thought offended, dumbfounded, and very likely to avoid conversation with the speaker in the future. I fondly call these unfiltered moments verbal diarrhea. Too graphic? Maybe. A fairly accurate description of unnecessary and unwanted unfiltered thoughts? I'd like to think so.

For those of you who do not know me, I am 39 weeks pregnant.  Throughout my pregnancy journey, people have expressed many lovely thoughts to me about the wonders of pregnancy, the miracles of childbirth, and the joys of motherhood. To those people, I say thank you. These conversations have  helped me to get through the last 117...I mean 39 weeks of knocked-up bliss (Confession: I feel like I've been pregnant forever. Remember the mom from The Glass Castle who thinks her gestation period is between 12-14 months? I'm starting to think she may have been telling the truth... ).

In contrast, there have been other people whose filters have malfunctioned while in conversation with me over the past nine months. These people have expressed sentiments to me that have been the opposite of heartwarming and have not contained any reassuring or meaningful thoughts but rather have been laced with judgement, condescension, some humour, and a lot of unfiltered thoughts.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of these precious moments that I can only refer to as moments of verbal diarrhea.

Unfiltered Thought #1: "You must be due any day now!"

The first time I heard this, I was a whopping four months pregnant. Not nine, not seven, not even five. Four whole months. It was my first day back to work after summer holidays; a day in which I took the time to do my hair for the first time in weeks, accessorize with adorable sandals, and sport a chic dress that (I thought) flattered my newly blossoming bump. I felt great. Rested. Trendy. Healthy. Tanned. Glowing! And then came the verbal diarrhea. Splat. This from a woman I have never seen before in my life.

Let's make a new rule: If you aren't sure how far along a woman is in her pregnancy, or when she is due, ask. Do not offer up when you have decided that she might be due. Do not assume that she is due anytime in the near future. Actually, scratch that.  If you don't know the woman, never ever assume that she is pregnant at all. This is dangerous territory any way you slice it. Stick to topics like the weather, or reality television. Time for "you must be due any day now" lady to get her filter serviced.

Unfiltered Thought #2: "Are you having twins?"

This unfiltered thought was said to me multiple times, often followed by a giggle, a laugh, or an all-knowing smile. Most of these times I smiled back politely, or laughed along because I was beginning to think I was indeed carrying a behemoth in my uterus.

My favourite time that this particular sentiment was questioned of me was when I let the woman know that I was in fact not having twins, to which she responded by putting her hand on my arm, looking deep into my eyes and saying "are you sure honey?" Splat. Verbal diarrhea.

Yes. Yes, I'm quite sure. I am the one carrying around this baby, attending the doctor's appointments, and hearing the heartbeat (singular heartbeat), so I am quite sure there is only one fetus in there. But thank you for your concern. It might be time for a filter service.

Unfiltered Thought #3: "Should you be ____________(eating that, drinking that, painting that, wearing that...)?"

Ok this one I have more patience for, as I feel it is said more out of concern than out of having a case of verbal diarrhea. My problem with statements like these is that I believe the fear of God is put into many women while they are pregnant, and this ultimately increases our already heightened anxiety exponentially. The list of things that we are not supposed to eat/drink/participate in/wear/be exposed to is so vast and varied that short of putting myself into a bubble I'm inevitably endangering my baby seemingly by walking out my front door.

Statements like these become cases of verbal diarrhea when, while I am drinking my decaf coffee (a great feat for me) a colleague approaches me to let me know the dangers of consuming caffeine while pregnant. Not only that, but she proceeds to go into detail about deformities and other side effects that she has heard accompany fetal caffeine exposure. Splat.

Hearing the words deformity, health risk, side effect, or any other word associated with threats to my unborn child's safety is not helpful unless you are my doctor or a very close family member or friend who has medical training. You can rest assured that I am already paranoid about the health of my baby 99% of the time. I stay up at night worrying, I obsessively read literature and research, I constantly question my unsuspecting family and friends, and I have become an unofficial Google Doctor due to the paranoia and anxiety that I have as an expectant mom.

But, again, thank you for your concern. Also, have you given any thought to that filter service?

Unfiltered Thought #4: "I don't think you are a real mother until you have a baby on your boob and one running around your feet."

Ding Ding!! Time to replace your filter!! It may also be time to get a lesson in tactful ways to respond to a woman who is excited to announce her pregnancy to you. Yes....a woman actually said this to me when she found out I was expecting a baby.

Now, I realize that some people may not believe that a mother is born until the baby is born. That's fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, for me I became a mom the second I found out that there was a tiny being inside of me that I was going to be taking care of, nurturing, worrying about, and solely responsible for throughout the next nine months. This little being has consumed my every thought and every action since the second I found out that he/she was a part of me. Every kick, every roll, every hiccup, every heartbeat. All. Consuming. I may not have experienced many of the things that moms who have given birth and raised their children have experienced. Not even close. I know that. But I am a mom. I am a mom.

'Nuff said.

Unfiltered Thought #5: "Are you having a boy or a girl? Turn around and I'll tell ya".

This was one of the more humorous statements that I received from a woman I barely knew.

I am familiar with many of the 'old wives tales' that supposedly tell the gender of an expectant couple's baby. I think they are fun and have tried a few myself. In fact, on my favourite show The Social, they had their wonderful (and expecting!) host Melissa Grelo try some of these to see if they were accurate.  I couldn't resist playing along, and according to the handful of gender predicting experiments they tried, I am having a boy (although our baby's gender remains a surprise).

This statement becomes verbal diarrhea when a person you hardly know asks you to turn around at your place of employment in order to inspect your backside and ultimately make a judgement about your body and your baby. It is a very strange experience to have your body suddenly on display for others to comment on.

For future reference, if I don't know your last name, I may feel uncomfortable turning around and having you inspect my bottom, or my back, or how I'm carrying. Anything that involves me facing away from you really. This may be my own insecurity, but I just can't help it.

SO...if you are asking relative strangers to turn around so as to guess the gender of their unborn child, you may need a filter check or a prescription for verbal diarrhea.

Unfiltered Thought #6: "Just Wait".

To get the full effect of this statement, one needs to say it like this: "Juuuuuuuuuuust Waaaaaaaaaaait". Filter check! Aisle Nine!

This statement is typically precluded with a person asking how I'm feeling, and me (stupidly) being honest with them and admitting to being tired/headachy/hormonal/anxious/etc. to which they respond with the aforementioned unfiltered thought. Splat.

This may come as a surprise to you, but as an expectant mother I am aware (albeit not through personal experience...yet) that my life is about to change dramatically.  No, I will not know the full extent of this life change until the fat lady sings, or the newborn baby cries, or whatever the saying is in a situation like this. That doesn't mean that upon asking how I'm feeling my answer should be belittled. All I need is a little affirmation. Perhaps a "yes that is tough", or a "that is normal!" or even an "I remember how hard that was". Just a teeny tiny affirmation. Then you can proceed with your juuuuuuuust waaaaait.

One of the most surprising discoveries for me in the receipt of all of these unfiltered thoughts/cases of verbal diarrhea has been that without exception every offender was a woman. LADIES! What are we doing to each other? We need to be more empathic, affirming, compassionate, supportive and understanding of each other! Luckily, most of the women in my life are fabulous and have been all of these things to me throughout my pregnancy experience.

Listening for other people's unfiltered thoughts has made me more aware of my own tendencies towards verbal diarrhea. It seems that from the second a couple starts dating ("do you think he is the one?"), to when they are getting serious ("is he going to propose soon?"), to the engagement ("when is your wedding??), to the minute after nuptials ("oh my gosh are you having kids right away?"), us women, myself included, are spreading our thoughts, assumptions, and general nosiness all over other women. Splat.

Let's all take the time to check our filters from time to time so we can have empowering, encouraging, and affirming conversations with each other whether with your friends, your coworkers, a hormonal expectant lady like me, or with the woman in the Starbucks line. We can put an end to verbal filtered thought at a time!


I am so curious what others have experienced in regards to Splat comments.....feel free to comment on here or on FB!