When I was pregnant and simultaneously raising my 4-year-old daughter, I was convinced people had it out for me. As if swallowing horrific heartburn and making 50 trips to the bathroom — minimum — wasn't enough, I usually had to deal with some bonehead making an unnecessary comment about my body, my pregnancy, or my growing family. And even though my kids are 6 and 11 now, I remember that time like it was yesterday. Of the all the cruel, cruel things you can do to a pregnant woman caring for a toddler, not being aware of your jackass-ness hits the top of the list. So, please, take notes.
To be fair, my toddler daughter was generally agreeable and a decent sleeper by the time I was pregnant with her little brother, so I'm sure I could have had it worse. That being said, she's a rebel through and through. Saying my girl is "defiant" is a gross understatement, and since she was a small child she's always been able to manipulate those around her. My partner and I knew, early on, that we'd need to stay on our toes if we had any chance of keeping up with her.
So when she was told her brother was on the way, her innate insubordinate nature peeked. I tried to keep her daily routine as normal as possible, but I was exhausted by all that extra weight and morning sickness and, you know, the "fun" parts of being pregnant. Did I need people to remind me that I was pregnant and, as a result, the pregnancy was slowing me down? No. The answer is: no, I absolutely did not. I didn't need people to any of the following downright cruel things, either.
Brag About Your Freedoms
I knew pregnancy is a temporary state and, one day, I'd be able to indulge in all the pre-pregnancy freedoms I took for granted. Still, your "freedom" isn't the same post-kids. I'll never be free from constant worry, or wondering how they're sleeping and eating, or if they're hitting their developmental stages "on time." And when I was pregnant with my second, I was definitely worried about how another baby was going to fit into our family and, as a result, how my daughter was going to take to a younger sibling.
So I'd say it's pretty cruel to hang with your pregnant friend, who's tending to her toddler, and only talk about all the cool kid-free, pregnancy-free, worry-free times you're enjoying. Get bent.
Leave When The Toddler Gets Cranky
Here's a fun test of friendship: invite people over to your home when you know your toddler is going to be in a bad mood and you're at your most irritable, then wait to see who stays and who goes. No, really.
When I had people over for dinner or something, and my daughter chose to act out and I felt like trash, I always knew who'd bail the moment things got tense and who's stick around to offer help and reassurance. Don't be the person who flees the second your pregnant friend's struggling with her fit-throwing toddler.
Talk About How Hard It's Going To Be
It's going to be hard to get through my pregnancy while caring for my feisty toddler, you say? Really? Well, do tell. No, please. Don't let me stop you from telling me how expensive, how complicated, how exhausting my future will be. Doesn't matter that it's a little late for this unnecessary discussion, but you do you.
Insist She Pay For A Babysitter Before Hanging Out With You
If you really want to bum out a pregnant mom of a toddler, invite her out for a night on the town but demand she get a babysitter because she "deserves" it.
Here's the thing: babysitters are expensive. Not everyone has the ability to afford one. And if that's not enough, maybe the pregnant woman in your life doesn't really want to go out. Maybe she wants to stay at home and relax and enjoy a moment of peace, because she "deserves" it. Instead of telling her what she needs, ask her what she needs and then help meet those needs. That's way more helpful.
Mention How Quickly She Gained Weight This Time
If you're feeling especially cruel, please tell me how hefty I look. Sure, I might only be a couple months along (or even seven months), but yes the weight came back quickly. My body was prepared for another pregnancy, I guess.
Give Unsolicited Advice On How To Parent Two Children
Unless you've decided to become a co-parent with equal rights to the two children I'm about to have, write your advice on a piece of paper, put the paper in your mouth, and swallow it.
I didn't need someone telling me how to parent my toddler when I was pregnant. I didn't need someone trying to "help me prepare" by telling me horror stories about what life with two kids is like. Nope. Not necessary.
Don't Offer To Help
If you've ever seen the defeated mother in the supermarket — the one trying to contain her screaming toddler — then you've seen me. As a pregnant woman trying to take care of her child, even the small things became monumental. Thankfully, there have been kind strangers who've smiled or asked if they could help me take my groceries or distracted my kid long enough for me to complete a transaction.
But there have also been those people who've shaken their heads in disapproval and simply walked away. I remember you. I remember all of you.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.