Hey, pharmacy checkout lady,
I’m sure you meant well when you asked me when I was due. Most people ask me that these days, because…well, let’s face it, I’m huge. My belly is much bigger than most people’s at 25 1/2 weeks, especially for a first pregnancy. I get it.
It’s only natural to be curious about someone’s belly. Nothing has made me understand that more than working as a doula for six years. Growing bellies are my jam. I see one and I want to run up and ask them all the questions and tell women how beautiful they look. But I don’t. I’ve learned over the years that there are some boundaries that are extremely important. (Well, all boundaries are important, but a lot of people don’t get that.) No, when I see a pregnant woman, I smile, to myself, or maybe to them if I happen to catch their gaze, but I never inquire. Even now, as a pregnant woman myself, I don’t inquire about other women’s bodies — mostly because you just never know.
So when you asked me when I was due, my heart started to race. You see, many people have asked me this over the last 5 1/2 weeks. Their eager faces, wanting to know when my sweet babe is coming to join me earth side, because gosh, it must be so soon. I never quite know what to say. When someone simply comments with “Any day now!” or “You’re ready to go!” I just smile and nod. But when I’m asked when I’m due, my whole body tenses up. So you asked and I answered with “December.” The look on your face made me once again question whether or not I should have lied. Maybe I should start saying September, or even October. But why should I have to lie to you to make you feel comfortable? This isn’t the first time I’ve thought this through. But you weren’t the biggest problem in that pharmacy that day. What happened next made my world spin once again.
You asked, and I answered with “December.” The look on your face made me once again question whether or not I should have lied. Maybe I should start saying September, or even October. But why should I have to lie to you to make you feel comfortable? This isn’t the first time I’ve thought this through. But you weren’t the biggest problem in that pharmacy that day. What happened next made my world spin once again.
You — the guy standing next to me waiting for his prescription, a middle-aged man who I later overheard was a doctor (a doctor!) — turned to me and chuckled. You said, “Triplets?!” My heart sank, as it so often does these days. I’ve been asked if it’s twins in the last 5 1/2 weeks and I simply say “no.” It still hurts, but when you asked me if it was triplets, I felt so small. I felt like my world crashed once again. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach, once again. I felt like my babies died, again.
I know you probably meant well. I know there was no way you could have known what happened to my girls. I know there’s no way you knew that the reason I look huge is because I have two dead babies inside me. How could you?
But that’s why you shouldn’t ask — because you don’t know. You never know. Call me a cynic, but you never know who has had a miscarriage, who is carrying a dead baby. You never know who’s waiting to deliver a baby who won’t survive or who will be extremely sick. You just never know. And so you should never comment. You should never ask a woman when she’s due. You should never comment on how big she is or how ready she is to pop. You should never ask if she’s having twins or triplets.
That day in the pharmacy, when you both asked me simple questions with eager grins on your faces, I know you meant well, but I left with my head down, feeling more defeated than ever, reminded so much that two of my children are dead inside me.
When you asked me those questions, I wanted to tell you about them, but I didn’t for fear of making you uncomfortable. So I said “no” and walked away. You probably just thought I was a bitch.
But I hope that maybe you thought for one second that you overstepped and said something you shouldn’t. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll carry that with you, just like I carry my three sweet babies.