There is one question that you should never, under any circumstances, ever ask a woman.
This one question can evoke feelings of embarrassment, anger, sadness, and shame, among others. This question can make even a gleeful person feel crestfallen and dejected. It can happen to women of different sizes, races, and incomes.
So what is it? See if you can pick it out of the following experiences.
My day didn’t start off particularly well. My husband and I were frantically tearing apart our house to find one of our son’s shoes. I was heading to a friend’s Baby Shower, so Daddy was in charge of the kiddo for the morning.
Saturdays he goes to soccer, but his left Puma was nowhere we could find it. The right shoe could be found nestled in the shoe bin by the front door next to his flip-flops and light-up Batman shoes, but the left was M.I.A. As time was running out, I told hubby to just throw his Batman kicks on so they wouldn’t be late. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, because when you bleed soccer, like my husband, velcro shoes are a major faux pas. My bad.
The missing lace-up shoe ended up being found, but by then we were both running behind for our respective engagements. It didn’t help that I hit construction on my trek to the baby shower too.
Almost to the party, another car ran me off the road, swerving into my lane. I thought that was the worst part until later it turned out that we were both on our way to celebrate our mutual friend’s baby. Awkward.
Here comes the question…
Trying to put that behind me, I took a couple deep breaths and moved forward. While pouring myself a much-needed cup of joe, a woman I had never met rushed over to me and jubilantly asked it. The question.
The one question it is never okay to ask. Not when you know the person, and most definitely when you do not. This exuberant stranger, without saying hello or even introducing herself exclaimed (so even those around could hear)…
Are you pregnant?
She said it more as a statement than even a question. Even after I looked at her in shock, she asked again saying, “I heard there was someone else at the baby shower who was pregnant too. It’s you, isn’t it?”
Why does anyone think that is okay to ask? I wish I could say that was the first time I’ve been asked, but it isn’t.
How far along are you?
Two months after my daughter died, it was a miracle that I even felt like getting out of bed, let alone going to the mall. I didn’t want to shop, but was feeling well enough to go for a walk some place cool in spite of my depression. Before leaving, I decided to treat myself to some frozen yogurt. Putting some fresh strawberries on my dark chocolate fro-yo, I was reflecting on how these little steps were positive for me. Another woman came beside me and chuckled, “Eating for two, huh?” I blankly stared back while she continued, “How far along are you?”
I probably should have been more gracious, but I went with “Actually, my daughter just died, thanks” and walked away leaving my desire for fro-yo (and being out in public) behind.
In both of those scenarios, I wasn’t pregnant. And in both of those scenarios, I left feeling utterly devastated.
The third time I was asked the question was when I was actually pregnant. I had morning sickness which was affecting my job as a church worship music leader. I even had to have people on the music team cover for me as I constantly needed to run off-stage.
My husband had just come home from a deployment and many people knew that we were hoping to have a healthy baby after several miscarriages and the death of our daughter. At this point, it was pretty obvious that I was pregnant. I saw some looks and smiles, but appreciated the respect I was receiving to announce at my own time.
Except for the woman I barely knew who approached and asked the question.
Her: Are you pregnant?
Me: What? Why would you ask that? (please take the hint)
Her: I think you are. Just say it. You’re pregnant, aren’t you?
Me: I don’t think that is appropriate to ask anyone (maybe reason will kick in?)
Her: Yup, you are. I can’t wait to tell people!
Me: Yes, it’s true that I am, but I’m not ready to tell anyone. Can you please respect that and not tell anyone? I’ve been through a lot and want to wait until I’m ready. (Please?)
If everyone knows it’s unacceptable to ask for a woman’s weight or age, then can we agree once and for all to not ask if someone is pregnant? I feel that even if she is, let her enjoy her pregnancy and have the ability to control when her special news will be shared.
I’m not sure if it’s because gossip magazines are constantly on “baby bump watch” which somewhat normalizes the question or what, but should we be following the lead of magazines known for invading people’s personal space?
How about we follow The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) instead?
Treat other people the same way you want to be treated.
In other words, stop asking the question.