On social graces…

by Kerry


While reading Courtney’s post last week, on Things You Don’t Say To A Pregnant Woman, I was reminded of how offensive people can come across sometimes. And how speaking before thinking is so dangerous. Whether intentional or not.

Now I have to admit that I am one of those who really enjoys being pregnant. I don’t get violently sick at any point, just the average first trimester nausea at sporadic moments. Yes to the occasional food aversions, and afternoons of utter exhaustion and necessary naps. Other than a few quirky pregnancy patterns unique to me, I’m usually good to go for a happy session of growing baby.

I know I was much more sensitive to body image comments during my first two pregnancies. With the next set I was way more relaxed, thrilled about being pregnant again, apathetic to outsiders’ uninhibited observations of my ginormous belly (especially with my fourth)!! By #’s 3 and 4 you learn to expect the comments and laugh at most acknowledgements that you are, indeed, pregnant – shocker!

Here it comes… the kicker statement. The big “but” so to speak (hahaha – laugh with me! I need lots of laughter. Besides, it’s healthy for you.)

Okay. So many of my readers know that I miscarried around 14 weeks into a very surprising pregnancy last fall. Without going into graphic, unnecessary detail, we were thinking we most likely were all set. Why did we NOT make permanent plans to ensure prevention of future pregnancies? {*Note: This is a common question that no human being should ask thinking they are in any social grace realm whatsoever. Just my opinion.} To somewhat answer the question – our fourth was still a tiny tot, barely one, and emotion still comes into play here. We were using precaution, just not the permanent kind. Which, by the way, is a discussion I wish to avoid in this post. How people decide, or don’t decide, to make the finalizing decision to have more children (or not) is so beyond personal and unique to each couple, why go there?

Beyond feeling blessed with our family of six and always open to possible adoption on the horizon, we finally reached that satisfying feeling we hadn’t felt up to that point (only heard others talk about) – that four littles was a happy number for us (biologically) and life was good.

God had different plans.

Another baby? Though unexpected, we saw this baby as a gift. Just like our others. There was some initial shock factor that needed working through – largely on my part – but we knew God didn’t make mistakes, either. He created this baby for a purpose. And He knew his/her days just the same as He knows yours and mine.

Unfortunately, with that pregnancy, I literally dreamed every aspect before it happened. From finding out I was pregnant to losing the baby. I believe God was preparing me, in a way. Still, the reality of it all was unimaginable. We wanted that baby just as badly. Surprise or no surprise.

Yes, I’m getting to the un-graceful social grace kicker.

I recently had someone (adult female) ask me about my littles. Small talk. Fun, light, no big deal. Then all of a sudden she asks, “So are you gonna have more?”. Ouch.

Now, she meant no harm or foul by this question. But not knowing if she knew our recent history I was caught a bit off guard. You see when people ask me how many kids I have, these days, I feel guilty if I say “four” since I really have had five births and that fifth baby is ours, just not here with us in body. And I feel guilty if I say “five” and then make someone feel bad for asking. Trying to learn how to handle it respectfully all the way around.

I gave a gentle: “I don’t know. We’re leaving that up to God.” – kind of an answer to her question. Then here’s where it really stung… She laughed. Like a throw your head back kind of laugh. Then she went on to comment/question: “oh, are you gonna be like the Duggars and have 19 kids!!”

Friends, I was stunned. One, because I’m sick of the Duggar jokes and jabs. Two, I realized (and hoped) that this poor lady had no idea what loss we had just experienced as a family. I allowed it to roll off my back temporarily. After we got home church, hubby asked if I was okay, was something wrong. I didn’t realize how agitated I was and then it welled up in me how affected I was by this woman’s statements. I burst into uncontrollable sobs and told him what happened.

Another learning lesson for me. We never truly know what people have gone through, or ARE going through and healing from. Can we just drop the How many kids are you going to have? and such from our lines of conversation?? Think of how many couples struggle with infertility let alone all the miscarriages we know women experience on a daily basis around the world.

I consider myself quite tough-skinned after many trials I’ve gone through in life. In some situations I don’t want to be tough – I want to remain sensitive, to myself and others.

What’s your perspective? Do I come across as overly sensitive? Have you ever experienced a less than graceful conversation?