I was catching up with a girlfriend who’s 36 weeks pregnant when we bumped into a friend of hers. A friend we shall call Fran.
“Oh my God, look at you!” squawked Fran.
“I know,” said my friend, with the wearied sigh of a woman who feels 13 months pregnant. She patted her bump.
“WOW,” gasped Fran, “I can’t believe how big you are!”
How BIG you are. HOW BIG. YOU ARE.
It’s shocking to me that Fran didn’t keel over on the spot from the DAGGERS I was staring at her. My eyes were screaming at her, “are you fucking moronic??”
After an awkward, hostile silence I practically shouted, “You are NOT big at all darling!” (more daggers at stupid Fran) “I know you’re so over it but you’re gorgeous. You can barely even tell you’re pregnant from behind!”
I’m pretty sure she knew I was lying. Not the point.
Pregnancy is like that big pimple on your face everyone insists on pointing out. You know it’s there, you own a mirror for Christ’s sake. I’ve heard some truly horrific things that people have said to pregnant women (“fat cubed” has to be the worst).
You will never be breaking news to a pregnant woman when you tell her she’s larger than she normally is. She knows she’s big. She has a HUMAN BEING inside her body. Do you know how that feels?
All of your internal organs are pushed up into your oesophagus so you feel like you’re burping intestines all day long. Your skin is stretched so tight it feels like it might split. You have a REAL MOVING PERSON pushing down on your cervix which makes your vagina feel like it might fall out every time you stand up and your pelvis feels like an old squeaky car seat filled with dodgy springs.
Every step she takes is another reminder of how very large she is, so there’s really no need to point, stare and laugh. Let’s try and avoid mocking the preggo. Like, you know, how you’d treat any other human being.
Because we do all agree that you can’t call other people fat, right? If I walked up to a hefty woman in a food court and said “hey lady, you FAT” I’d end up in a viral video called “Blonde woman goes on fatist rampage outside KFC” like those rednecks who attack immigrants on public transport.
But calling a pregnant woman huge? A-OK! You sure you’re not having twins? You must be due ANY MINUTE! Somebody call Seaworld, we’ve got a beached whale to save! Oh the LOLZ!
Hear me – It’s not ok.
Congrats to all the women who can laugh off the jokes. Big claps for your self-confidence, you resplendent pregnant woman. However, some (most) women don’t enjoy being told they’re fat (shock) even if it’s a ‘light-hearted’ joke. Not because they’re sensitive, but because they’re dealing with a rapidly changing body they don’t even recognise anymore and that can be really distressing.
This is the reality of pregnancy for most:
Weeks 1 – 14 Feeling like shit (or maybe 40 if you’re super lucky like me). Bloated, chubby, greasy-haired, nauseous porky town. No one knows you’re pregnant so you have to deal with raised eyebrows and whispers as you reach for another packet of Smiths Chips and undo another button on your groaning pants.
Weeks 15 – 22 Pregnancy glory. You’ve ‘popped’ so you finally look pregnant and it’s exactly like all the magazines told you it would be in your cute tight top showing off your cute little bump and your super cute new set of boobs.
Weeks 23-36 Fat ankles, fat arse, huge boobs and wobbly arms. Suddenly you’ve realised you’re not just pregnant in your belly, you’re pregnant EVERYWHERE. Is it possible to put on weight in your nose? Your pigmentation is getting revenge for all those years you ditched the sunscreen. You’re starting to look at lip waxing kits in the chemist. Your ‘cute’ belly looks like a road map and GOOD GRIEF will someone turn the fucking air con on!
Final 4 weeks DANGER ZONE. Do not approach. Do not look in the eye. Do not talk directly to the pregnant woman.
That ‘light-hearted’ joke doesn’t sound so funny when you feel like a freak show. It can turn a previously confident woman into a sobbing mess, hiding in the work toilets, looking down at her engorged stomach and realising that her body will NEVER be the same. Even if she loses every last kilo she’s gained, her boobs will change, those stretch marks will stay, her pelvic floor will be a constant, faulty reminder. She’s crying for all the years she wasted worrying about her body when she should’ve been strutting around in a bikini because everything was SO tight and young.
TAKE ‘EM DOWN
For all the women crying in toilet cubicles across the globe, dry your tears! I’ve got some comebacks you might like to try.
If you are genuinely upset, you should always try, “I find that really hurtful” because it’s terribly effective in shutting people down. My preferred technique, however, is to smile (genuinely) and say thank you. “Oh, I’m enormous? THANK YOU SO MUCH! I feel a million bucks!” Smiling is the ultimate comeback to someone who’s trying to upset you.
P.S If a pregnant friend of yours has just shared this article, it’s VERY likely she is sending a subtle hint. She is NOT huge, enormous, fat or massive. She is NOT further along than her doctor tells her even though you’ve had kids yourself and you’re pretty sure you can tell with just your eyes how pregnant someone is. Her doctor is probably medically trained and probably used some science or some expensive medical gadgets to make the diagnosis. And unless she has specifically told you she’s having twins, there’s just one baby in there (along with all of her organs, a placenta, some fluid etc. etc.)
If you really must comment on her appearance, why don’t you try:
“Oh gosh you look so amazing! I can’t wait to meet this baby!!”
If she truly is a holy mess and you’re a terrible liar:
“Oh my god, your hair looks sensational!”
If you really can’t bring yourself to say one nice thing about her appearance you could simply ask:
“How’s this baby treating you?” because the odds are, she’s not feeling excellent and she really needs someone to notice HER and not the baby.
P.P.S Leave the skinny mums alone too. They’re fine. Their baby is fine. She’s just petite and the baby is fully tucked up in there. Don’t be a panic merchant.
Did you get some comments when you were pregnant? How did you respond?
Good luck to all the mums-to be! If you want some entertainment during the endless middle of the night feeds, head on over and like The Thud on Facebook so you never miss a post.