I was shopping with a friend while our kids were birding and we went into a sewing shop—she was looking for a project for her daughter.
I’m a cross-stitcher, though I’ve really only done birth samplers and I fell into the hobby by accident. When my first daughter was born, someone mailed a handmade cross-stitch birth sampler— the thing with the alphabet, the baby’s birthdate, weight, etc. I thought it was very sweet. She didn’t send one for my second or third daughters, so I learned how and made them each one. I started one for my son when I was pregnant with him (in 2005) but my sister-in-law told me she was pregnant that year so I ended up finishing the sampler for my nephew instead. She had two more boys and in short, I’m behind two birth samplers: one for her youngest son, and one for my own.
The sampler I’d been working from was worn out from being handled, so you couldn’t see some of the stitch pattern anymore and I was looking to replace it. I couldn’t find the birth samplers, so I asked the shopkeeper where they were. She showed me.
Then she did that most hateful of things: she gave me the up-down. You know, when people give you the quick glance from head to toe, sizing you up. I guess some people look at different things: your clothes, your hair, your shoes, I don’t know, because I always maintain direct eye contact with people; I think it’s how you can tell the most about someone.
Anyway, she up-downs me, then manages to emit from her wrinkled, cranky-looking mouth the very thing no human should ever ask a woman under any circumstances:
“When is the baby due?”
Apparently she hadn’t heard the backstory to gather that I was nearly nine years late in stitching a sampler for my son.
I was horrified.
“The what?” I asked, incredulous.
“The baby,” she answered calmly, pulling out a frog-patterned “IT’S A BOY” birth sampler pattern.
“THE BABY IS EIGHT YEARS OLD,” I stammered, loudly and slightly hysterically.
“Oh well, you never know,” she said, in that old-lady passive-aggressive way.
“I do know, actually,” I said, “because I’m going to be 45 years old next week and I haven’t had a uterus in I don’t even know how many years.”
And I high-tailed it out of the shop.
When my friend walked out, she looked at me sympathetically and smiled.
I started, “Did you even… did she just?”
“Look at it this way,” she said in a helpful, encouraging way, “she thinks you look young enough to have a baby!”
I was not consoled.
The moral of the story is this: NEVER EVER ASK A WOMAN IF SHE IS PREGNANT. I don't care if she has a Baby on Board t-shirt on and a basketball-shaped belly or even that you can see a baby's head hanging from between her legs you DO NOT FUCKING ASK THAT QUESTION EVER. Ever.
I should cross-stitch it on a billboard.
-Follow Mary McCarthy on Twitter @marymac.