No, I am NOT pregnant.

Saturday we had the retreat morning for all the children making their First Holy Communion on May 1.  It’s always a fun and special time.  My class and the second graders from our church’s school come together – and the helper moms come together, from the school and from my class… watching both sets of groups interact is always interesting 🙂 .

The parents of my students know what’s going on with me, of course, and many of the school moms who are involved in parish activities have been my friends for years.  But then there are the other moms.

When one other mom asked me if I was pregnant on Saturday, I made some sort of joke about my “fat dress” and went along with my work.  But when a second other mom asked me if I was pregnant and without waiting for an answer went on to tell me how happy she was for me and wanted to know if I knew yet whether it was a boy or a girl… I sort of let her have it.  No, actually, I was really mean. 

When she stopped to take a breath, I told her that no, I was not pregnant, I have cancer, and because my cancer was so advanced, I had to have a hysterectomy, so I will never be able to get pregnant again.  I told her that there was nothing I’d love more than to be pregnant rather than having more chemotherapy starting on Wednesday, but that we have to do everything possible to save my life for the children I already have.  Then I burst into tears and told Sister Judy that I had to leave the retreat because I wasn’t feeling well. 

I don’t think that lady will ever ask anybody if she’s pregnant ever again.  I feel bad now for being so mean, but I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough to apologize when i see her at rehearsal on Friday. 

Let’s not think about having cancer instead of being pregnant.  I need to focus on the goodness of my class instead of worrying about those other moms.  How about if I show you some pictures from Sunday school this week?

At the end of the school year, we spend most of our time on our saint projects and our prayer chart.  Early in Lent, I bring in a stack of holy cards, divided into boys and girls.  We go through the piles, talking about the stories of the saints, and each child takes one holy card.

My students have wildly diverse abilities.  Some have limited English skills, some are non-readers or in special education classes in their regular schools, but we also have fourth and fifth graders who just never had a chance to make their First Holy Communion before.

Some students prepare amazing presentations, complete with costumes.  Other children learn the name of their saint and perhaps one miracle associated with him.

But everyone gets to present their saint’s story.  The whole class claps REALLY loudly for every presentation.  And it never fails… even though the saints are chosen from the same 35 or 40 every year, I learn new things about these heroes of our church.

I wonder which saint I need to pray to for help dealing with those mothers who asked me if I was pregnant on Saturday?  Maybe I should just focus on my students instead of worrying about the moms?  But perhaps I should work up my courage to apologize to that second mom….

14 thoughts on “No, I am NOT pregnant.

  1. I think that, if you are strong enough for it, you may want to give the second mom the chance to apologize to you, rather than attempting to avoid her altogether. It was heart wrenching enough for me when someone asked me if I was pregnant, after menopause. If I’d gotten a congratulations without pause, I would have snapped. Otherwise, focus on your students. And perhaps have one of the moms who knows you that is in the church school spread the word on the other moms. You don’t need the wrong kind of tears during FHC.

    I wish I did a fraction of what you do.

  2. Oh, Elizabeth… 😦
    Something similar happened to me once at work. I’m on steroids (post-transplant goodness) and it makes me look, well, pregnant, occasionally.The thing is, I will probably never be able to have my own babies. And I want them SO badly.
    I was in the cafe getting lunch and the cashier asked me if I was pregnant. I was about ready to sock her.
    Sometimes we just can’t help our reactions.
    I will keep praying for you and your family, and that this round of chemo goes well.
    And yes, I’d give her a chance to apologize to you.

  3. Oh, I am sorry. I can only imagine the hurt it caused you and how the other mom must have felt as well. I would think she felt awful and embarrassed at the pain she caused without meaning to. She may very well seek you out to apologize. Peace… we have a daughter making her First Holy Communion this weekend at St. John Neumann.

  4. Precious Elizabeth, I’m so sorry that you were so hurt and saddened by this woman’s ignorant and callous remarks. The error was hers — not waiting for an answer to the simple question before blathering on based upon a mistaken assumption. Here’s to hoping that, if nothing else, it teaches her to pause and LISTEN before being hurtful.

    Hugs to you! Your Communion class is beautiful. Send some good-teacher vibes my way OK?


  5. I’m so sorry for your experience, Elizabeth! I can imagine the knife-stab to your heart because I know how much you wish you were pregnant or could ever be again. I do think probably it would be a great show of Christian charity and a gift if you could reach out to the second mom and apologize for your reaction. Yes, she shouldn’t have been so bold to ask if you were pregnant. (I’ve come to think that I won’t ask someone if they are pregnant unless I see them panting in labor. 😉 She’s probably utterly mortified and she might not be brave enough to come apologize to you. Even though she etiquette was very bad, she didn’t intend to hurt you. I was reading the other day about a saint who was dying and he kept making a point to his brothers around him that we can never be merciful enough to others.

  6. I have been trying to find the words to “help ease your pain’, but realize there really isn’t anything I can say or do, you just have to take it day by day.

    Katherine really put into words what I wanted to say and maybe taking her advice will help give you comfort.

    Just remember we love you and you’re always in our prayers!

    Thanks for the photos of your class…reminds me I need to do that more with my Sunday School class!


  7. Elizabeth, be kind to yourself over this, you need it.
    Your friend Katherine is right and wonderfully articulate about the situation. I’m sure the “other mother” is punishing herself for being over enthusiastic and insensitive but I doubt very much if she was deliberately “callous”. People make hideous but genuine mistakes and regret them for ever sometimes.
    Your reaction was entirely justified and understandable and now you need to focus on yourself, your family and your FHC weekend.
    I’m keeping you tucked in my sleeve and I’m sure that if angels watch over anyone, they are watching over you and yours.

  8. I was in that woman’s shoes once, and though I wasn’t there and cannot judge the woman’s intentions, I would say that if you feel up to it, apologize to her, and if you can’t, offer up your hurt for her intentions. A long time ago, a friend’s relative was visiting her and I happened to drop by. The relative, a stunning young woman, had made an effort previosly to lose a bit of weight. When I saw her, I was alarmed inwardly, because I myself had suffered from anorexia once and she had dropped a lot of weight. After being there awhile, I quietly asked her what she was doing to lose weight because she was already beautiful and didn’t need to lose anymore. She hatefully looked at me and literally screamed in venom “It’s called depression.” I immediately got tears in my eyes because I in no way intended the question to hurt her and secondly, I had never seen her act that way before. For years afterward, I allowed that incident to keep me from reaching out to others in fear that something similar would happen. Then I decided that part of loving is being vulnerable and that fear was indeed, useless. I know that she was trying to hide pain, but in that pain, she herself, unitentionally hurt another.

  9. I’m almost (but not quite) at a loss for words, so I’m sending you {{{hugs}}}. I hope you know that my prayers for you are a constant; as for the OTHER mom – well, I’m praying for her sensitivity chip to become fully engaged AND for the two of you to reconcile. Love and prayers from Kalamazoo.

  10. I stumbled across your website randomly.


    Don’t feel bad for getting angry. I know that woman was well-meaning, but she was also very rude. You could have been the healthiest woman in the room, and it still would have been vastly inappropriate of her to go on like that. Now, rudeness is not a reason to be mean, but nothing you said was untrue. I really do hope that she (and anyone reading this) will recognize how sensitive a conversation like that is and think twice before being assumptive about the state of a woman’s uterus.

    And second.

    You have a beautiful family, and you seem like a very strong person. I think you probably know that just being a good person doesn’t get you a free pass for the bad things that happen in life, but how wonderful that you are able to keep being a good person in spite of it all.

    I wish you so many decades of healthy life, watching your great grandchildren play in your yard between hugs and kisses. If only everyone got to have a good parent like you.

  11. I am so sorry. I, too, have been in the other woman’s shoes, although I never assume anyone is pg w/out her mentioning it first! (I carry post-partum weight from 6 babies — I’m not pg, I’m just fat.) But I have been known to go on and on, simply because I get nervous and fill silence. I am so sorry for your pain. I imagine you both feel bad about it. I will pray for you both. God bless. +

  12. I would give those other moms some slack.
    Yes it is rude to ever ever ever ask anyone if they are pregnant (even a woman bearing down in the delivery room), but they were happy at the prospect of your being pregnant. That would go a long way toward forgiving them in my book. And though the other moms didn’t know your circumstances totally, they did know that you had many children already, including some special needs children. Most of the world right now would not view a pregnancy in those circumstances as a subject of congratulations.
    It is not the other moms’ fault that you will not have more biological children and that you have cancer. They were not being callous about those situations. They simply didn’t know.
    And in that vein, we don’t know those other moms’ circumstances either; perhaps they would desperately love another child, and can’t — and screwed up all their charity to congratulate (they thought) a pregnant woman. They may have health, marriage, family, and/or financial troubles of their own.
    I think we just all need to be a little gentle with each other.

    PS. I am praying for you.
    I am amazed at you and your family and all you accomplish.

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