Everyone's always talking about things you shouldn't say to pregnant women. Being recently pregnant, I fielded a number of these myself (no, you may not lecture me on breastfeeding, circumcision, coffee, alcohol, organics or consignment clothing, and no, you may not rub my belly like a genie lamp). But there are a few things you shouldn't say to military spouses in particular... and they're the things we hear every day. Let's put an end to it.
Aren't you worried about PTSD?
Well geez, now that you say that. My husband coming home from deployment to a new baby does bring up a lot of concerns, this one even the most well-intentioned family and friends. I get it, you're nervous. I really do understand. But guess what? I'm nervous about sleep schedules. And fitting the ginormous carseat into my not-ginormous car purchased on our not-ginormous budget. Right now, I'm worried about becoming a parent. Not PTSD. Which works out, because I can see you've got that covered. Thanks for bringing it up in such a sensitive manner...
Of course you got knocked up. That's all there is to do out there.
I forgot, my I'm-only-here-to-please-my-man face must be showing. Here I thought I was a whole human being capable of establishing my own family planning and sticking to it as much as possible. No, clearly not. Thanks for boiling me down to a stereotype, dude. I'm glad we've established what we think of each other.
Are you worried the dad won't be there?
Deployment? Training? Maybe just making the birth and then being gone a few days after baby? Yes. Yes I am scared of all of these things. Maybe we can discuss my thunder thighs, our savings account and my student loan debt next.
How will the baby bond with the dad if he isn't there for the birth?
I really hate that this was said to me so often I started coming up with one-liners to lob back and make permanent enemies out of well-intentioned strangers. And friends. And family. You know what? One of my best friends is adopted. I'm pretty confident her parents adore her as much as she adores the child she just birthed. If my husband doesn't make it home in time for the birth, I think we'll all survive. It's not like it's our first choice, but for centuries, men weren't at the birth of their children anyway. Somehow, humanity survived. So will we. But thanks for bringing up something that's clearly a nice topic for friendly conversation.
You're not going to deck your baby out in military gear, are you?
Yes. Yes, I am. He's going to have a Marine Corps bear snuggled next to him every night. I'm going to upcycle some cammies into bibs and diaper covers. I'm even going to put him in a little military outfit because darnit it's adorable and makes for great photos and also we are really, really proud of his dad's service. And that uniform. And that for right now, that uniform is a daily part of our lives. Baby's too.
You aren't a real military wife until you've given birth alone.
Oh, thanks! This is totally uplifting and makes me feel GREAT when my hormones are already in full-swing! While you martyr yourself over there, I'm just going to keep growing this baby if that's okay with you.
Don't you think it's selfish to bring a child up in the military?
Number of times this was said to me during my pregnancy: 43. Number of times it was said to me by a complete stranger: 42. I guess I must look friendly and easy to talk to, or maybe that's just pregnancy in general. But I'll tell you what. I can meet you your concerns about selfishness and raise you even asking this of a woman who is eight months pregnant and whose husband is deployed. Which one of us is selfish?
God, you must feel fat around all those soldiers.
Right, I do. Every day. Already. Thanks so much for your kindness and compassion. I don't feel like a manatee or anything. Let me just hit up my local Zumba and drop this baby weight already. What is this big belly doing on me, anyway?
You're not planning to use the base hospitals, are you?
Well, I was actually planning to do a crash-course of medical school and deliver the baby in my bathtub by myself... YES. YES I AM PLANNING TO USE OUR LOCAL HOSPITAL. I have so many other options! Sure, I can TOTES drive an hour to the civilian hospital closest us when I go into labor. What a brilliant idea. Why don't I do that. I'm assuming you're volunteering to chauffeur?
You won't let your kid join the military though, right?
Last time I checked, the day he turns 18, he can make that decision for himself. And whatever decision he does make, I'll be awfully proud of him, if it's selling starving-artist paintings he made himself or donning the same uniform as his father. He's his own person, and he's got to go his own way, but let me tell you one thing: The amount of pride we feel in this house for the military is clearly something you know nothing about. Maybe you ought to think a little bit more about it before voting day. Just to be on the safe side.
But if you want to tell me that your heart skips a beat every time you hear the Camp Lejeune hospital bell ring announcing the birth of "Baby Girl/Boy, United States Marine Corps" then please, come sit by me. I'm sure we'll get along great.
Keep Up with the Ins and Outs of Military Life
For the latest military news and tips on military family benefits and more, sign up for a free Military.com membership and have the information you need delivered directly to your inbox.