There are few pieces of news that elicit more excitement than when a woman tells you she's pregnant. And I get it. It's a new person! It's a new adventure! Babies are cute! Pregnant woman are beautiful! In fact, sharing news of my third pregnancy has been incredibly exciting. I've been basking in the joy of it. I've accepted the compliments about what beautiful kids my partner and I make. I've happily told people that I'm feeling better now that the nausea has somewhat lifted. And I've artfully dodged the questions that immediately follow the announcement, namely: "When are you due?" I won't tell anyone my due date, and I absolutely don't feel bad about that.
I don't blame anyone for asking. In fact, I ask this too. It's seen as a safe topic of conversation, and many women don't mind sharing theirs. But to me, asking about my due date is actually a deeply personal question, and unless you're the type of friends who talk about your menstrual cycles in detail together (and I have a couple of these), sharing your due date, or how many weeks along you are, just feels way, way too personal for me. Beyond anything, I view it as such an intrusion of mine and my family's privacy.
I'm a chronic over-sharer. I'll chuckle when I'm in the checkout line and shrug at the cashier when I'm buying tampons and chocolate and those amazing stick-on disposable heating pads. (I digress, but if you get cramps, these things are amazing.) I don't think there's any reason to be ashamed of menstruation or procreation. I'm a human. I bleed and engage in intercourse. But just because I don't believe in feeling shame about these kinds of things doesn't mean I think people should ask about them or that I should feel any pressure to share.
When I announced my pregnancy on Facebook a few weeks ago, I told my friends, and acquaintances, and that guy who lived down the hall from me freshman year of college that we were expecting a third baby in the fall. And that's it. With people I actually know, I'll tell them the month I'm due. But nothing more. I won't share the week or the date.
If someone says I look great at a lower weight, then I assume I'm unattractive if I gain weight. And for some reason, a family member thought it would be OK to tell me that because I didn't show for a long time in my first pregnancy, I "just looked fat." (That same family member laughed at how big my butt got in my second pregnancy.) Needless to say, those comments hurt.
There are two big factors for me when it comes to not sharing the actual date. After two pregnancies I've found that people suddenly seem to be experts on how big women should be in every month of pregnancy. What pregnant woman hasn't heard: "Wow! Are there twins in there? You're huge for just three months!," or, "Why aren't you showing if you're in the second trimester?" Those comments suck. I've shared my opinions about this before, but even when you're super excited to see a baby bump out in the wild, you don't need to comment on the woman's body. If it's a stranger and you want to smile at me, that's fine. Because smiling at people is nice and it doesn't necessarily mean "oh my god, someone planted a baby in you!" But anything more than that is just too way too much for me.
I don't really like inviting people to comment on my body, because I generally loathe it when people do. I want people to focus on me — my brain, my emotions, my interests — instead of what physically can be viewed from my outward appearance. People's comments have fueled my own insecurities, even when they're trying to be nice. If someone says I look great at a lower weight, then I assume I'm unattractive if I gain weight. And for some reason, a family member thought it would be OK to tell me that because I didn't show for a long time in my first pregnancy, I "just looked fat." (That same family member laughed at how big my butt got in my second pregnancy.) Needless to say, those comments hurt, and made me feel uncomfortable in the new skin I was inhabiting. When you share your due date, people seem more than eager to begin discussing how your size lines up with their notions of what you should look like. And that just doesn't make sense to me — at all.
But the biggest reason I don't want to share my actual due date with the general public is that, in my experience, my due date hasn't even been close to the day my two older children were born. And historically, your due date is typically just an average. It's not a crystal ball. Plenty of babies come two weeks early or late and perfectly cooked. I generally think of it as my "due month."
When I was so eager to meet my child, and would wake up every morning disappointed I was still pregnant, it was hurtful hearing that other people "couldn't wait" to meet the baby.
And as someone who was pretty married to her due date with her first, it totally blows to be overdue. Not only are you excited to meet your baby, but the entire world seems to be more interested than you could have imagined. Well-meaning friends call you "just to check in" and you begin answering the phone with "no, I'm not in labor, but if you really want to know, it's possible I passed some of my mucus plug earlier, so do what you will with that information." Feeling impatient and anxious about labor and birth is made so much worse when you feel like the proverbial watched pot who has yet to boil. When I was so eager to meet my child, and would wake up every morning disappointed I was still pregnant, it was hurtful hearing that other people "couldn't wait" to meet the baby. Because, yeah, even though I went only five days past my due date, I was already so impatient and uncomfortable. I felt like I was letting all these people down by not going into labor — which is something I had no control over. It totally sucked to feel like I'd let people down when there absolutely nothing I could do to change that.
I'd much rather tell people I'm pregnant, enjoy their excitement, share an occasional bump picture, and then share a newborn picture. Like "Surprise! It's my baby's birthday!"
I also feel like those last weeks of pregnancy are a really sacred time. It's a time when I felt allowed to relax and nest and enjoy the calm before the storm. When I was pregnant with my second, it was such a sweet time of enjoying my first child's last days as my baby. I loved every minute of feeling those kicks from the inside, knowing I'd miss them. I was really protective of myself in the days leading up to my delivery. And part of being protective was that no one knew when I was "supposed" to have my baby. With both pregnancies — even though it was more stressful with my first — those last few days and weeks were some of the happiest I've spent. I felt anxious, but fulfilled. And I really enjoyed that.
So this time around, I'm keeping it vague again. My baby will be here sometime before Christmas but after the start of the school year. And if you want to ask me about how I'm feeling, or how excited my kids are, go ahead, I'm more than happy to talk about it.