This has been brewing in me for a while. I’ve chosen to keep my pregnancy mostly off this blog for many reasons. At this point, I’ve only made it the topic of my blog twice. But this issue I’ve been encountering recently finally pushed me over the edge and I have no choice but to speak out.
Stop commenting on my body.
I don’t understand why random strangers think it’s ok to call out to me “well momma’s gotta walk!” or “can’t be long now!” or the one that pushed me over the edge “I see you’re expecting triplets!” as I walk by with my dogs or around a garden center. I’m frustrated that these people think it’s ok to make comments about my body having never met me, but I’m even more frustrated with myself for not calling them out in the moment. I’m usually so caught off guard by these comments it doesn’t register right away what they mean.
I’ve been trying not to carry these comments with me throughout my day, week, month, etc. but as I’m approaching the end of this journey and my body is swollen to epic proportions putting the finishing touches on this little girl, the frequency of these interactions have increased and I’ve found it more and more difficult not to dwell on the negativity.
For some context. I’m nearly 6 feet tall. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I weighed 150 lbs. I was athletic, working out nearly every day in some capacity, and eating relatively healthy. My body felt good and I had a positive relationship with it that was a hard-fought battle over many years. I was proud of myself. I loved myself.
Then I got pregnant which slowed me down a little. Then complications happened that essentially forced me to stop altogether for several weeks. Then horrific nausea and insomnia. Pretty normal things many women face when their body is growing a human being.
Not surprisingly, I began to pack on weight at a rapid pace with no signs of slowing down. In these later stages, other factors have been working against me – in particular, I’ve been struggling with swollen hands and feet. I can barely wedge my feet into any shoes. I wake up in the middle of the night with numb hands. I haven’t been able to wear my wedding rings for months. I’m currently sitting at 206 lbs. This number doesn’t bother me per se, but when I just feel large and swollen and bloated and uncomfortable, there’s a second subset of comments about my body that is just as damaging.
In the midst of the negative comments, there has been an onslaught of kind people telling me “you look great!” and “you’re all baby!” and “I bet you’ll be one of those women who walk out of the hospital wearing your own jeans!” And while I know these comments are well-intentioned, they create such a paradox in my mind. How can I “look like me” but feel like my body has been hijacked? How can I “be all baby” but wake up with painfully swollen hands and feet? The two realities just refuse to coexist in my head.
So, you may be wondering, what is an appropriate thing to say to a pregnant woman if you feel inclined to make a comment?
You can ask me how I’m feeling.
You can ask me when I’m due.
You can ask me if we’re having a boy or a girl – I’ll probably even tell you her name at this point!
Pregnancy is awesome and magical and mysterious. It’s normal to be fascinated by the changes women’s bodies go through as they create and nourish a tiny human being. All I’m asking is to stop making the focus of your comments and questions on how her body looks, but rather how she feels. You’ll likely get a much more meaningful conversation, and avoid unintentionally damaging her self-esteem in the process.
A few closing points:
To the man who said, “I see you’re expecting triplets”: Fuck you.
To the kind people who make positive comments about my body: thank you, truly.
To myself: you are literally growing a human. It’s ok. And worth it. And I still love you.
Photos by Jennifer Casey Photography