My daughter was just 4 years old when I was pregnant with her little brother. Their birthdays were scheduled uncomfortably close together and, well, now they share a birthday exactly five years apart. There were some pretty creepy things people said to my first kid when I was pregnant with my second, and while I would like to assume it's because my son's due date was so close to my daughter's birthday, I know better. In the end, pregnancy just brings out the weird in people. So, sadly, I spent the majority of the time I was pregnant with my son with my jaw open or my hands covering my daughter's ears, trying to shield her from whatever inappropriate thing someone said.
Perhaps I wouldn't have been so annoyed by these strange comments if the journey to have my second kid wouldn't have been so difficult and heartbreaking. Not only did my partner and I endure two painful miscarriages, but I was on the brink of starting fertility drugs when I found out I was pregnant with my son. He was planned but oh-so unexpected, and the timing — along with memories of what we'd gone through during those two pregnancy losses — made me a little more sensitive than I might've been otherwise. This includes how I dealt with things people said to me, and especially to my daughter.
Even at 4 years old, my girl was acutely aware of the losses I had endured. She's always been in tune with my pain and protective of my feelings, so when others pointed out or asked her things throughout my pregnancy, I wanted to shield her a little more than usual — especially when the comments crossed into the creepy category. With that, here's some things people said to my daughter when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby:
"I Bet You're Hoping For A Sister"
Why do some people assume a girl prefers a same-gendered sibling? Maybe my daughter wants a brother, or maybe she's just hoping for a healthy baby no matter what.
This comment was and will forever be undoubtably unnecessary. Gender isn't relevant, even a little, and to set a kid up for "gender disappointment" is never OK.
"You Probably Like Being The Only One Right Now"
My partner was an only child, and he enjoyed it. I have nothing against only children, but I didn't grow up that way. I had a younger brother so my perspective is different than my partner's.
So when anyone assumed my daughter wanted to remain an only child, while her pregnant mother was standing right next to her, I saw red. This comment triggered her anxiety because, well, honestly she had no control over the situation. It wasn't her choice to be an only child or to be a big sister. Please stop putting kids in this weird situation so they can be happy when their sibling arrives, and not sad that they're no longer the center of their parents' attention.
"You'll Have To Hide Your Dolls"
Stop right there. I heard this too many times to count and it's damaging to my strong, independent girl. Don't ever assume that just because I have a girl she's into dolls. While she plays with them, she's just as happy with construction toys.
In fact, no one should assume that if I have a boy he won't be into dolls, either. In the years since his birth, he plays with dolls more than his big sister. Long gone are the gender norms of yesteryear and, in my house, my kids play with whatever they damn well feel like.
"Better Learn To Share"
This is assuming my kid doesn't already know how to share, that she's unwilling to do so with a younger sibling, and even that I'm failing as her mother because maybe, at just 4 years old, she's not ready to share.
"Enjoy The Time With Your Mom While You Have It"
Creepy doesn't fully cover this one and it's — by far — the statement others said to my daughter the most. It implies I'm going to disappear from her life forever, and that terrified her. Though I took the time to discuss how things would change when her brother entered the world, I also reassured her I'd still be there always and despite what anyone else said.
"Are You Going To Help Deliver?"
It's not cute to ask this. When I'm pregnant and hormonal my patience is less than stellar, so if I see my child struggling to answer an uncomfortable question she doesn't understand, or know the answer to, I'm going to cut it off.
"How Many Babies Do You Want Your Mom Have?"
I'm sorry, I totally must have spaced out when my OB-GYN said it was OK for someone to ask my child this question. I didn't know that a 4 year old was going to be in charge of my reproductive decisions or future. How strange, right?
My daughter was there holding my hand when I cried over the previous losses, just as she was there when I heard her little brother's heartbeat for the first time. Fertility, conception, and pregnancy are sensitive subjects. Instead of making conversation with my kid (who's already going through the acceptance of an impending baby that will rock her world) the best practice would be to just keep it to yourself.