Monday, June 8, 2009

The Pregnancy Police

A few months back, during church, I had a nice thing happen: I gave in. I gave in to the pregnancy. I gave in to what it's done/doing to my body, to how I look, to feeling sick, to being uncomfortable. I stopped 'kicking against the pricks', if you will. It was evident, in one of those pleasant moments of peace and clarity, that this experience is a process, and no matter how I handle it, I will eventually come out the other side, one way or another, but not without experiencing it. My mom said once, a long time ago, that pregnancy is like rolling off a log- once you start, it's going to happen. Why fight it? So, though not without stumble-age, the navigation has been easier since that day in church. I gave in and I was happier.

I think it's in large part due to that mini-revelation that lots of things don't bother me the way they might have previously. Yesterday at church I wore an outfit I was happy about. I noted that I liked how I looked in it and, in fact, looked rather thin, with exception of my Insider Resider. Perhaps the rest of me camouflaging as a thin person got people confused when 31-week-old baby bump looked no smaller than usual. Perhaps it emphasized it. All I know is, yesterday was the day it began. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. that walked past me gasped with joy and asked me when I was due.

"Nine weeks!" I told them all proudly, thinking the number sounded so small, as this is the smallest it's ever been, after all.

EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. that had inquired reared back with shock and disbelief and exclaimed some variation of, "You still have nine weeks? I figured you were due tomorrow! / You are ENORMOUS! / I feel so bad for you! / You look like you could go today! / But you're so big! / My baby was 12 pounds too!"

The nice part was my friend was standing next to me for the duration of about 50 commenters on the subject, and she could not stop laughing. One after another after another said roughly the same thing, always perhaps a tad less sensitively than I imagine they intended, and it felt nice to have someone else along to experience my vast and newfound infamy. I believe a previous version of myself might have felt a little bad for said self. Now, I laughed with all of them and tried to agree.

"That's what I hear!" I chirped over and over to excitedly interested on-lookers, many of whom took this opportunity to comment on my body as occasion to speak to me for the first time ever.

(As many of you see me in-person very infrequently, and are perhaps imagining me the circus-freak herein described, I might inform you that I asked BOTH my doctor and my nurse separately if I was big for the baby's age, and they each measured and responded that I was exactly average and on-target.)

The nurse commented, "And if you looked any different everyone would tell you you were much too small! The Pregnancy Police are always on patrol!"


Jessica said...

That is the most true thing anyone has ever said about pregnant moms and the public reaction to them.

If you look small, people say you're not starving the baby. If you're carrying large, people say you need to watch your calories or your baby will be a chunker.
If you drink coffee, people will gasp and recoil from you as though you are actually sipping from a cup of human blood.
If you tell people that you cut out all caffeine they will insist that a cup of coffee won't hurt the baby at all. Repeatedly.
If you work out while pregnant you will be accused of vanity.
If you sit around like a couch potato, you will be accused of sloth.
If you are seen buying pink clothes, someone will come over and insist you are having a boy. You can have ultrasound pictures showing the baby's private areas taped to the front of your belly and someone will still insist that you are carrying the opposite gender because your feet are not growing, or your hair is much thicker than usual or you have developed a distaste for bananas, or whatever!

You just can't win. Why bother trying!!!

Robyn said...

My favorite is when they say, 'Oh, you have totally dropped, when like a day before there was no mention of said dropping.' And you will look down and not really notice any difference. Has anyone ventured to touch the belly? That is a great experience too! Nothing says weird like a stranger wanting to pet your belly.

M-A said...

I got all of the same comments with my first. I was shopping in Palm Springs when I was 6 months along and this gay guy runs up to me and says "OH my gosh, are you sure you should be out walking around? You look like you are going to go into labor any second!" I hope he felt dumb when I told him I had 3 months to go. Nobody could believe how big I looked, but my doc insisted I measured exactly average and predicted I would have a 7 pound baby... He was totally confused when I popped out a 9 lb baby along with almost twice the normal amount of amniotic fluid. Somehow I vacuum packed it all in. I'm sure your baby will be tiny. Petite women show way more than large women.

Courtney said...

Well now, since I don't get to see you and the Insider Resider in person on any type of a regular basis, YOU NEED TO POST MORE PICTURES OF YOUR GORGEOUS SELF!!

Emily said...

Yeah, I'm sure it's all just because you're so small. I'd never really thought of that before. I bet if I ever have a baby I'll get that all day long, too. Honestly, it's amazing to me what people say. I usually don't comment on people being pregnant at all. Because who knows, they might not even be pregnant! Usually the only time I will is if they make some kind of comment, like they're looking for products to make announcements ahead of time or whatever, and then I might ask when they're due. And I never say, wow you're huge, that much time left? Or anything ridiculous like that.

Jessica said...

Jessica- I love what you wrote! It's true- you can't win!

Roy- Interestingly, people around here must have gotten the memo about touching other people's stomachs because no strangers try to do it to me. Even people I know very well ask before they touch. I guess I'm lucky!

Stephanie said...

I agree with your friend Emily. You just don't go around popping off to pregnant women. Are people really that dense?!?!? Don't they realize that these women aren't only dealing with body changes, but there are a whole lot of hormones that go with it. I don't think you lood big..your pregnant! How else are you supposed to look? Your a normally very petite person who is growing a human inside of her. I just think it is funny when people make general comments like, "your so small for how far along you are," or "wow you are so big." Every person is different and every baby developing inside is different. All that matters is you are healthy and the baby is healthy. Wow I didn't realize I had so much to say on the subject.:) I think you look great!

Emily said...

all i can add is ditto - but like courtney would like more photos... i think in the few i've seen and having seen you in person a few weeks ago think you look amazing and no where near as large as people are making you out to sound. if you will remember even I asked if it was ok to touch the belly - why when women are pregnant does it become ok to fondle a strangers belly? if there was no baby you wouldn't dream of it...

Staci said...

The greatest in when they INSIST you are carrying know because you're sooooo huge!!!

Hilarious post, as always!