Wednesday, August 21, 2013

HOLY PREGNANT!!!!

The title of this post is a direct quote from a woman who walked past me on the beach at Cape Kiwanda, Oregon, a few weeks ago. At the time, I was all of 30 weeks pregnant (3/4 of the way through; about 7+ months pregnant). I felt like rocking her world a little more than I apparently already had, so I replied, "yeah, and I still have TWO MONTHS to go!"

Just doing my civic duty!

I try to let comments like "HOLY PREGNANT!" roll right off my back, but the truth is that stuff like that is why I want to stay inside for the duration of this pregnancy and not see anyone. Because if I don't see anyone, nobody can make comments about my size. See also: why I am really, really dreading going to church on Friday (it will be the first time since we've returned from the US). Church - at least the social side of it - has always been my least favorite place to be in the last month or two of pregnancy, to the point that my very last thought before my water broke early on a Sunday morning with Magdalena was literally "oh my gosh it's Sunday and I have to go to church and face everyone at 40 weeks pregnant and none of my maternity clothes fit me anymore waaaaaaaa."

It is so hard for me to get so big during pregnancy. And I feel like there are not many people who understand that feeling, aside from others who also get very big during pregnancy. Among people who are mothers, there is sometimes an attitude of, "well, I didn't get that big, so what's her problem?" Among people who haven't given birth, there is sometimes an attitude of, "well, the actresses who play pregnant women on TV don't get that big, so what's her problem?" It is a balm to my soul to talk with women whose bodies change as drastically as mine during pregnancy, and commiserate, and escape for a moment from the judgment and misunderstanding (usually not unkindly meant) of others. (And don't get me wrong, there are plenty of lovely women who are tiny during pregnancy themselves but are sensitive to those of us who aren't, and I love them for it.)

When I go to church on Friday, I will try very hard not to punch in the face the first person who makes a comment about how big I am. I will try to smile on the outside, again and again, as the comments roll in, even as I wish I could just walk into church wearing a sign that says:

"Why yes, I AM bigger than the last time you saw me. No, I have not had the baby yet, and in fact, my due date is not for another month! Yes, really! That far away! I know I look "ready to pop," and you cannot imagine how much I love having that phrase applied to me. If you sat down and talked with me about it, I would tell you how each of my three pregnancies have been lived in very different places, where I had different eating habits and foods available to me, different exercise regimens, different jobs and work schedules, etc., and yet the progression of my weight gain/shape change has remained almost exactly the same for each. This is my body, and this is what my body does during pregnancy. That is all."

And now for a picture, actually the only one I have on this computer since I started showing. This is how Bridget does 32 weeks in Rexburg, Idaho. The end.
Except! As long as I'm shocking everyone's sensibilities, I thought of an even more alarming picture to post. It's a picture of me at the hospital in Middlebury, in labor with Magdalena. I know I should be cradling my belly all cute-like, but check it out:
I know some of you are recoiling in horror about now...

...but some of you just gave a fist-bump to your computer screen and whispered, "solidarity." I hear you.

46 comments:

Hannah said...

Hmmm....I certainly don't want to excuse annoying/insensitive comments, but I wonder if some of these might be a very clumsy attempt to make conversation and/or commiserate with some of the discomfort that goes along with pregnancy. I think women in particular find pregnancy interesting and exciting (even a stranger's pregnancy), so they might be likely to just blurt things out.

Anyway, this post serves as a good reminder to me to think before I speak--always a good thing.

Lost in Translation said...

People said awful things to me when I was pregnant. I wanted to hand out cards that said 1) I have 8 weeks left. 2) Yes, I'm ready to not be pregnant. 3) I've actually gained less weight than recommended, so don't ask. 4) Tell me I look ravishing and that I'll be a great mom or say nothing.

So, yeah. SOLIDARITY, SISTER!

Bridget said...

You're right, of course! I realize I am being oversensitive and less than generous toward well meaning people, but I think that comes with the pregnancy territory. Toward the end, you just don't feel like yourself. Your body doesn't even feel like your own (and 6-8 pounds of it isn't). So it's hard to have it pointed out all the time. Sigh. I'll try to remember that next time I get a comment about how big I am. :) Thanks for the perspective!

Lisa Lou said...

I did not get very big during my pregnancy due to medical complications and my baby stopped growing. It was very stressful, especially when people commented on "what a cute little bump!" I didn't want to burst into tears in front of strangers and politely smiled and said thank you. It was awful. I think no matter what size women are, they will always get comments.

Liz Johnson said...

SOLIDARITY.

This is why you simply ask a woman how far along she is (assuming her pregnancy has been confirmed and you're not just speculating like a jerk), and then smile and say "Wow! You look amazing!"

A gift of baked goods is always a nice touch, too.

Jessie said...

Thanks for this, Lisa. I've always cringed at the "you are SO tiny and cute!" comments women dole out to each other as compliments. What about the women who aren't tiny? What about the women who are tiny because there is something wrong with their pregnancy? What exactly are we complimenting, and why?

Jessie said...

You look really great, Bridget. Feel free not to answer if this is too personal: Do you feel like your concerns with your pregnant belly are a carryover from your anorexia issues as a teen? Or is it more of a "I'm uncomfortable and I want to be done, quit reminding me that I still have weeks to go" thing?

Jennifer said...

I think you look great. :) And I'm so glad you put that woman on the beach in her place.

Nicole and Justin said...

I get huge when I am pregnant. When otherwise I am a fairly small person. With my first I went from weighing 115 pounds to over 180, and I promise I didn't sit and gorge myself all day. In fact after I had my baby and it had been a couple of months I had a friend comment, "Wow I didn't know you were a skinny person." Umm thanks? We had moved half way through my pregnancy so she hadn't known me before. And I have gained about60-70 pounds with each subsequent pregnancy. Good thing I love my kids:) I see pictures of myself while pregnant and think, man my head looks so little.... so I totally understand. You are almost there and look great.

Crys said...

Wait first off can I just point out that your hair has gotten super long again! I swear your hair grows so fast! I love it! You looked great in Idaho and the pictures of you with Magdalena just made me chuckle. I mean I love you for posting IT, especially since I'm a 100% sure you did not post it when she was actually born :) I agree with you that TV gives you this totally unrealistic idea of what a pregnant body should look like. I mean for crying out loud there is a 20 inch, eight pound thing living where other things use to live. Where the heck are those other things suppose to go? Out my friends, they go out! I guess I can't blame TV too much though, because honestly my own memory wipes clean the images of the injustice that is a 8 month pregnant body. I am always shocked when I go back and look at pictures of myself in the hospital the day the baby is born. I'm pretty sure I stop taking any other pictures that last month, and then you are in that tent of a robe...anyway in my mind when I picture myself having my baby my belly is six months along, then I go back and look...haha SHOCKER TIME! Can I just say that while everyone was applauding Kate Middleton for showing her post baby bump, let's not forget that she is just human like the rest of us and hid for those last four weeks. I totally get it, that is where the true horror of what happens to your body lies :) Man I love my kids so much but if Dr. J had been able to take a turn being preggo I would not have said no! My favorite is the person who says, "Um are you pregnant with twins?" With a 3% chance of that, really people you are going to ask :) Maybe someone should make count down due date stickers that look like those count up first year baby stickers. You could just put one on your shirt every day, 30 days until due date, 29...and then in small lettering around it could say, "No I'm not pregnant with twins!" Can't wait to see this baby boy Palmer!

Alanna said...

Solidarity, all the way. I gain somewhere from 50-60 lbs with each pregnancy. I don't think my stomach stuck out quite as much as yours in that last picture, but man, you should see my butt! (And those extra 30 lbs I'm STILL carrying around 5 months after #4 made his entrance? Not cool. Not cool at all...)

Merkley Jiating said...

I know I'm not alone but sometimes I still cringe when I see myself. Thanks for once again reminding me that I'm not alone. It's a good thing babies are awesome.

karina said...

Solidarity. I did not gain much weight during pregnancy (only 15 pounds), but I was Massive. Total strangers were asking me when I was due at 15 weeks. And were shocked when they heard the answer (and immediately asked if I was having multiples). I think for me it's because I'm so short with a short torso. There is no where for the baby to go but out. And out some more. And some more. When I went to the hospital for my 20 week ultrasound they tried to take me to triage to assess me for labor. Enough said.

Myrna said...

My petite piano teacher also got huge while pregnant. I remember sitting on the piano bench at my lesson, one of the last times before her baby #4 was born. (I was a teenager, not a child, at the time.) She was writing notes about my playing when she dropped her pencil. She looked at the pencil. She looked at me--I am sure you can imagine her look. Her daughter, about 8 years old, poked her head in the room, so my teacher took the opportunity to say "Can you please pick up my pencil?" Her daughter said, "Why don't you pick it up yourself? What's the matter with you? Are you sick or something?" My teacher caught my eye and we both smiled, and she said, "Oh, I'm something!" I admired her so much, and it was hard to watch her struggle with the size that baby grew her to!

Heidi Williams said...

First off.. I dont think you look huge! The second picture.. yeah, you're certainly pregnant and not hiding it, but you're about to give birth! I don't know if I'd bat an eyelash if i saw you in that top picture. But then again, maybe that is because i am way more sensitive and observant as i am currently 36 and a half weeks pregnant with our first kid. I haven't had too many people say weird or rude things - but IT Has blown my mind how many people will ask how much weight have you gained. STRANGERS!!! ITS VERY ODD.. and makes me super uncomfortable, because for the first half of the pregnancy I actually LOST 11lbs. I have gained that back and an additional 14 lbs, WHICH for my already overweight size is fabulous - HOWEVER... since when is it ok to ask someone how much weight they have gained. I always heard that people like to touch your belly - i haven't had that actually, but it has been eye opening how many people say WEIRD things or feel entitled to tell you their birth story, ETC ETC... I have definitely learned a few lessons of what NOT to say in the future. Hang in there.. you look fabulous!

Kitty Crazy! said...

You are cute, don't worry!

I was one of those people that got "oh you're SO tiny!" and it still bothered me, because A. I was still INCREDIBLY uncomfortable and B. They said it like it must have been something I did, when I most certainly did not and know it's not really under your control.

-Sarah

Rob and Sara said...

My first thought at your first picture was "She doesn't look big at all!" I had to pull up a picture of me right before going to the hospital to compare to the second one and yep, we're about the same size. I think being short has so much to do with it. My OB even told me "You're going to get very uncomfortable. There is just no place for that baby to go!" Solidarity, sister! I really do think you look great!

Jenny said...

Screw having generous thoughts about people who say rude or insensitive comments, especially from other women who know better. Church is so hard for me to go to also the end of my pregnancy. I'm 31 weeks and the thought of having to go sit through it for 9 more weeks while other women use my hugeness to validate themselves on a job well done when they were pregnant just makes me cry. I get you.

Nancy said...

The worst comment I've gotten (that I can think of off the top of my head) was, "There's no way you're that far along. You're tiny. What are you having—a puppy?"

Thanks, but no thanks. People sometimes just don't think.

And I think that picture of you in Idaho is cute.

The end.

Jen said...

I once heard a comedienne say, "Never ask a woman if she's pregnant, even if she's crowning."

And? Fist. Bump.

I did a belly cast at 34 weeks during my first pregnancy. It's one of my prized possessions and I'm SO glad we did it. (Have you considered such a thing?) I was measuring full-term at that point and my boobs (which we included in the cast) were E-NOR-MOUS. But I love it in all of its gargantuan glory.

I would just like to express my awe-stricken admiration of your ankles in that picture from Middlebury. Exquisite. (But you know how my ankles fared this last time around...so my jealousy is maxed.) =)

Amber said...

Solidarity! I've had people assume I'm due any day at about 6 months. Which is fair, because at 6 months I look like most of my friends do on their way to the hospital. When I look at pictures of myself right before I give birth, I honestly wonder how I stood upright. People have asked me repeatedly if I'm sure I'm not having twins, including my dad!

Bridget said...

Yes, what are we complimenting, exactly? Someone's torso capacity? Great point. Lisa, that sounds so stressful and it's a side of this issue I never considered! I think a simple "you look great!" + baked goods is the only appropriate pregnancy comment, as per Liz, below.

Aimee said...

While I enjoy being pregnant and all the big roundness that comes with it, I also completely understand your irritation. I gained a lovely 53 pounds with my 11 lb 4 oz bub and a good 50 pounds with my 9 lb 7 oz guy. I carry out all the way, from the early weeks on, except after pregnancy #1, now my hips and butt have to compensate for the massive belly and its even more sad because that arrives immediately. I was 13 days late and let me tell you the crazy comments I got were hysterical and they weren't even original, they are all the same old comments from different mouths. "Are you ready to pop?" Are you having twins?" "Are you sure?" "When are you due?" "Not for another two months??" "Bet you're excited to not be pregnant!"

At 29 weeks my austrian midwife was convinced that I was due February 5 because my boy was measuring almost 5 pounds when an early ultrasound showed that I was due February 19th and he didn't even arrive until March 03. I couldn't even take a picture in those final two weeks because I was so upset I wasn't having a baby, but I was big!

All that to say, I think all pregnant women look beautiful, really just amazing, I will remember for the future to just say that.

Bridget said...

A gently qualified yes to your first question. In fact, I almost broke out the word "dysmorphia" in the writing of this post. I know many women who are able to really embrace the body changes that come with pregnancy. I am not one of those people. Having attention drawn to my weight gain (which seems to be fair game since it's pregnancy, BLAH) makes me extremely uncomfortable, even though I know it's normal to get bigger. I also struggle with the unavoidable obsession with food that comes with the sickness in the first half of pregnancy. I have worked so hard to overcome irrational obsessions with food that it's hard to have it thrown back in my face for 3-4 months.

ANYWAY. The point is, most days I feel like this, and I don't want to go in public and have other people comment on it.

Bridget said...

I'm sorry, but your "my head looks so little" line almost made me choke on my cereal from laughing suddenly. So true!!!

A friend of mine who moved during her pregnancy got the "I didn't know you were a skinny person" line, too! How well meaning...but also how totally rude!

Bridget said...

Yes, even my doctor's receptionist commented on my long hair when I saw her the other day after not seeing her for a month. Something about the UAE makes my hair grow fast, and I didn't have a chance to have my Finnish BFF cut it while I was in Oregon.

I like your idea of countdown stickers to wear on your shirt.

Bridget said...

Oh Karina that is awful!! Women with short torsos, UNITE.

Bridget said...

That is hilarious. The sad thing is that the harder it gets for me to bend over and pick something up, the more I seem to drop things. What is with that??

Bridget said...

Oh, the belly touching. I didn't even get into that in this post. Unfortunately, it happens a lot here, especially at church. I know it doesn't bother a lot of people but it really bothers me (I am just a cantankerous pregnant joy, aren't I???). A pregnant body is not a public body and dude, yeah you, the one touching my belly? My boobs are like RIGHT THERE. Not cool.

Bridget said...

This is interesting to me, because perversely, I would love to hear someone express genuine disbelief that I'm x weeks along (and not because they think I'm farther along). It would assuage all the worst parts of my problems with my body image right now. So my question to you is, would you love to hear comments about expecting twins, etc? I wonder if it goes both ways.

But still, the lesson is, just say "you look great!" and then be quiet. :)

Eevi said...

I remember thinking "I look pretty good" with Saku's pregnancy and now I go back and realize that I wasnt as cute as I thought. :) What I think most people dont realize that we DO NOT have control over how big we get. I gained the same amount of weight with both of our kids and looked very different each time. I think you look great. I truly do. I cant wait to see what your little boy will look like and what you will name him. Good luck to the last weeks.

Crys said...

Wait, a guy touched your belly :-/. Now that is one that has never happened to me! I am guilty of recently giving a bestie who I hadn't seen in months a pat but in fairness she was forcing me into a hug (something I'm incredibly hyper sensitively uncomfortable with) so I think it was fair :)

Bridget said...

Yes, a guy! I could tell he wasn't being creepy about it...but that doesn't mean it isn't creepy for ME, you know?

Sarah Familia said...

More solidarity! I stayed tiny (well, for being pregnant) for my whole first pregnancy, but with #2, I was so gigantic from the very beginning that even my MIDWIFE thought it MUST be twins. (That was six years ago, and there has not been a #3, and there probably never will.) Also, my breasts get gigantic during pregnancy, so even when maternity clothes fit my belly, they don't fit at the top. Nor do they fit at the hemline, because I'm so short.

Also, your story reminded me of when I was sixteen and had chicken pox. I went to Church after I was no longer contagious, and a boy in my class thought I had really bad acne, and that it would be funny to tell me I looked like I had chicken pox. If I hadn't needed to leave the room immediately to go in the bathroom and cry, I would have punched him.

Cait said...

Oh Bridget, I think you look great!! I wish I got bigger when I was pregnant, crazy I know. But I had this image of me lying naked basking in my huge belly, kind of like that scene in the Constant Gardener when Tessa is in the tub... but alas, I always just look a little chubby. With Atticus I went to work at 30-something weeks and my colleagues didn't even know (I was doing an internship in DC) and I had to point out that I was pregnant and not just having to pee a lot because of some weird STD.

Myrna said...

Like Nancy, I remain small in pregnancy. (Like mother, like daughter) When I was overdue with Nancy, actually, my husband took me to the hospital and said, "My wife is in labor." The nurse looked at me and said, "No, she isn't! She isn't even due yet." My husband said, "No, she is overdue." Hello, Nurse! It isn't about SIZE!

Crys said...

Yes I know! I do not like physical contact, especially from men not my hubby or related to me. I realize I have weird hang ups that are weird, but they are there, so that's that. Even if he meant well I would have been uncomfortable! Was he American? I think in general the rule is if you aren't my doctor, male midwife, my father or brother, or you put the baby in there, hands on is a definite no/no!

Amanda Ball said...

Solidarity! I told all my coworkers that anyone who commented on my size was going to get punched in the face.

Susanne said...

I hope Friday church goes well for you, Bridget. Update us if you feel like it. I enjoyed the post and comments. I think you look great, as always.

Katie Lewis said...

Hugs, friend. :)

Unknown said...

I had the inverse problem. Not really a problem, honestly, but directly opposite to what so many others posting comments have experienced. I barely looked pregnant. I gained 14 lbs. with my first daughter and 0, yes 0, with my second one. And then I delivered both of them 5 weeks early. They were both over 6 lbs and 19 in. long, even that early. When I had my 2nd baby, I came out of the hosp. 17 lbs. lighter than what I weighed when I got pregnant. I could still wear my regular clothes into my 7th month and then the waistbands started too tight. But beyond that, I barely looked pregnant. Don't know what would have happened in the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy, though. Maybe I would have shown more. Now I am tall (5'9") and big-boned, broad-shouldered and have "good birthing hips", lol. The nice thing about not looking very pregnant was that people didn't seem disposed to touching my belly since I really didn't have one. OMG that would have driven me mad. I hate being touched like that, I'm not even much of a hugger. But I am sorry that people have been insensitive. I really don't think the majority of them are doing it to be mean, but even still, people should be a little more careful about what they say. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and wishing you a speedy and safe delivery!

Jamie said...

I think you look great! And I think it is so bizarre the comments people feel compelled to make when one is pregnant. I think the worst I've heard (when my mom was expecting my youngest sister and she was in her early 40s)- were things like "Did you mean to?" or "Didn't anyone ever tell you how to avoid this?" And there she was- about to have her fourth child! The personal (and rude) questions just amazed me!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

During pregnancy I sinfully used to envy tall pregnant women. They always looked graceful and willowy while I looked like a stubby forklift about to keel over.

And the comments--oh, the comments. I'll stop right now before I've even started on that. Being the subject (or victim) of bizarre comments has made me very careful what I say to pregnant women.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I have twins, now 11, who were due at the end of May. From Thanksgiving on, people would ask me if I was hoping for a "Christmas Baby" and the first time it happened, I thought it was a joke. Nope, had at least 3-4 people a day comment on it. I'm 5'1 1/2" although I usually say 5'2" to keep it simple. So yeah, short torso, and by the end I was larger around than I am tall.

Honestly, I was bored out of my mind, but glad I no long had to worry about maternity clothes when they put me in the hospital at the end of week 30. They were born at week 35, and spent a few weeks on the NICU. My body was still horribly stretched out and lumpy between the bottom of my breasts and my legs. New nurses on the NICU kept think I was there for a your of the NICU, because they thought I was still pregnant and there for the "high risk pregnancy tour." It was a long time, almost 5 years before I had my body back, and them I got pregnant again, two years later.

mle said...

Fist bump all the way! I feel for you Bridget, short waisted women unite!!!

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

I would have never guessed you felt this way because you don't look huge at all. I thought you must have at least 3 more months, but that just goes to show you never know. You look wonderful, not kidding, ya look great!

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