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Have you ever said something that inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings? Would you want to know if you had, especially if what you said was something that you say on a regular basis to a variety of people?
Last night I stumbled upon the realization that something I say to people with some regularity might be completely insensitive without me even realizing it. A friend who has struggled with infertility was relating how much it bothers her when people ask her when she’s going to have her second baby. She and her husband have been ‘trying’ for many months and every time someone asks, she’s reduced to tears. I know that many, many couples have a hard time conceiving and it struck me that this friend was not the only one who must feel this way.
I don’t often ask people when they’re going to have a baby, but often times when someone tells me she hasn’t been feeling well or she’s inexplicably tired, I jump right in with, “Maybe you’re pregnant!!” I don’t say it to be mean, of course. I love babies. I love pregnancy (yes, I’m one of those women who loved being pregnant). I just get excited when I hear about a new life on the way. But for someone who would love to answer my exclamation with a resounding ‘YES, I am!’, but can’t, my words could hurt.
It’s funny that I’ve never thought of this before because I clearly remember a similar situation happening to me about a year after Eric and I got married. We found out I was pregnant, but I miscarried very soon after. One summer day we had a family reunion with a large group of people who we don’t see on a regular basis. The night before the reunion, I got clear confirmation that another month had gone by and I was still not pregnant. When we arrived at the reunion, the questions started. I dodged the first one with a quick, “No, I’m not pregnant yet”, but the next time it came up my eyes filled with tears and a few awkward seconds went by before someone changed the subject. Not one of them meant any harm and I felt no ill-will towards them, but their words definitely brought my emotions to the surface.
I’m willing to bet that the majority of us have been in a similar situation. We’ve either asked the question or been on the receiving end. If you love to ask those questions about when someone’s family is going to expand, may I just caution you to choose your words wisely? If you don’t know the person well, don’t know the journey they’ve been on, don’t know whether they are desperately trying to have a baby, are planning to wait a little while, or are quite content in the place they are, please consider not saying anything at all. Wouldn’t you rather err on the side of caution than add to someone’s heartache? Besides, if they have something they want to share with you, they will.
And now the part of the post where I share pictures of our real, everyday life.
After dressing herself in this getup, Annelise was extremely irritated that I would not take her outside (at 7 am while I was still in my PJs). Every day I’m getting more certain that I will not survive her teenage years.
Have a great week and remember to keep it real!