“Whoa, are you sure there’s only one in there?”
“Did you say you’re six months along? You look at least seven.”
“I’d love to say you’re looking lovely and skinny but…”
“You’ve put on so much weight I wouldn’t recognise you if I passed you in the street!”
There is currently a baby in my tummy. It’s exciting, Husband and I are stoked, Spawn #1 doesn’t really understand what’s happening, and it should be the most #blessed time of my life. Yet these are actual, word-for-word comments that were either said to me three years ago when I was pregnant with my first or in recent weeks when I hit the third trimester with my second.
I have never had a great relationship with my body shape. All through high school I went to swimming club. I loved getting in the pool but I hated stripping off. Togs don’t make it easy to hide your lumps and bumps, real or imaginary. At my first school ball I was particularly self-conscious about how my pot belly popped out in my skin-tight orange halter-neck dress. When I look back at photos of my 56kg, 15-year-old self, all I see is protruding hip bones and clavicles.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that when you get pregnant, you probably put on weight. Yes, there are people whose pregnancy weight gain is 100% attributed to the baby they’re growing and not to large Big Mac combos with an extra portion of chicken nuggets (because nuggies are lyf), but these people are blessed unicorns with incredible metabolisms who, even when they’re not pregnant, can stay thin on a diet of starch. The majority of us put on weight and work hard (and possibly struggle and/or fail) to get rid of it afterwards. It’s just part of pregnancy.
So why is it that people feel like they have the right to comment on the state of pregnant people’s bellies when weight gain is inevitable – and when part of that weight gain belongs to another human, not to them?
Lately I’ve found myself justifying the size of my tummy. Oh, my torso is really short so there isn’t anywhere for the baby to go except out. Oh, it’s my second and everyone knows that mums pop out sooner second time around. Oh, my first was big so maybe I just carry big babies. Oh, it’s just the time of the day. Wait until you see me after dinner.
Sometimes I bring up the elephant in the room first so when someone asks when I’m due, my response is along the lines of, “Not until March/yeah I know I’m huge/I’ve got a really short torso/a second kid equals a bigger bump/my first was big/you should see me after dinner.”
Yes, I weigh the same now as I did when I was full-term first time around, with 9ish weeks to go. And yes, I was overweight before I got pregnant again. But your comments about my expanding stomach aren’t helpful for my mental health or my relationship with my unborn child, and it’s not like I’m going to go on a diet or start a rigorous exercise regime any time soon so respectfully, STFU.
Your comment about how huge I look and how big ‘that baby’ is going to be isn’t helpful either. Do you think I’ve forgotten how the majority of babies come out and therefore how mutilated my foo could get if I do have to push out a(nother) nine-plus-pounder?
Your comment about not having seen me for so long so you’re not sure if I’m pregnant or if I’ve just put on weight (yes, that actually happened) isn’t helpful either. Is it any wonder I’ve made zero effort to keep in touch with you?
And besides, who cares if I am actually fat? It’s my body, not yours, so move along hombre.
I am growing a human being. I can feel her moving all day long (and much of the night). I, like anyone who’s had a child, am a superhero. Yet, like many other pregnant women, I’m over here silently struggling to deal with the ever-changing shape of my body, finding clothes that fit but that don’t make me look Amish, and wishing that I could drink a G&T because it’s bloody hot and I didn’t plan that well at all. I’ve already got enough on my mental plate; I don’t need you reinforcing my weight-related hang-ups as well.
And if you think you’re just being funny or that I’m overreacting, actually, you’re being rude. In exactly the same way it wouldn’t be kind or appropriate for me to ask you if you’re OK with your muffin top looking so muffiny or question why you haven’t got a nose job yet because your shnoz is enormous or have you considered Botox because those frown lines are deeper than canyons, it’s not OK to make negative comments about my beautiful pregnant belly.
Instead, encourage me about how great a mum I’m going to be or how healthy my nails look or how Spawn #1 is going to be an amazing big brother or how it’s going to be a piece of cake going from one to two (I never said you had to tell the truth). Instead of LOLing that I look huge, feed me all the things that pregnant people like, like hot chips or Vegemite and avocado on toast. Instead of projecting your own size-est hang-ups and expectations on me, deal with your self-talk and leave me and my pregnancy glow in peace.
And if you don’t have anything uplifting to say about my bump, talk about something else. I’m looking forward to the final Avengers as much as the next guy.