As I more and more resemble a house, and my husband more and more makes comments about me resembling a house, I’ve begun reflecting on the statements people – not just any people, but complete strangers – have made to me regarding my weight and appearance throughout my pregnancy. For some reason, pregnancy seems an excuse to disregard all normal social boundaries regarding a woman’s weight. You would (hopefully) never volunteer that my face looks puffy if I weren’t pregnant, but for some reason now that I’m preggers, it’s okay to point out my cankles. What gives? You realize I’m a hormonal mess, right?
I’ve already written about Alan Simpson calling attention to my wide hips, but here are a few of my favorite “Did you really just say that?” moments over the past several months.
CASHIERS AT GAS STATION IN NORTH CAROLINA
Damon and I were driving home from a long weekend in Charleston when we stopped somewhere in North Carolina to get gas. I went inside to pay, and as I was waiting for our total to ring up, I heard the cashier ask, “How far along are you?”
I glanced around me looking for the pregnant woman the cashier was speaking to. I quickly realized – much to my horror – she was talking to me!
OMG – She can tell I’m pregnant?! I knew I shouldn’t have eaten the french toast AND the cinnamon bun this morning!*
I wasn’t obviously pregnant until fairly far along, and until this point, no stranger had been bold enough to assume I was. This turning point in my pregnancy caught me completely off-guard.
“Oh, um…” I stuttered, trying to remember that I was indeed pregnant and this question was not an insult in any way, “I’m almost 28 weeks.”
“Laaaaaawd, you tiny!” a second cashier exclaimed.
Why thank you, I work out, I thought smugly.
“Yes,” the first cashier piped up, “You’ve gained all your weight in your face and legs.”
Just what every woman wants to hear – the place where I’m supposed to be gaining my weight is “tiny”, but the rest of my body is inflating. Fantastic. I hastily paid and left the premises, wondering how the cashier could tell I’d gained weight in my legs.
The hair stylist was washing my hair and going through the usual list of pregnancy questions – How far along are you? Boy or girl? Any names? – when she then hit me with a doozy. “How much weight have you gained?”
Wait – you’re allowed to ask me that?
I know plenty of women offer up how much weight they gain after they have the babies and get their figures back – but I was not used to being asked such a seemingly personal question point-blank by a complete stranger. But hey, I had nothing to be ashamed about. Or so I thought.
“About 20 pounds,” I replied, confident that 20 pounds was healthy for my 8 months. Just like the cashier, the stylist cut me to the core with a loud gasp followed by, “WHAT? 20 pounds!”
“Um, yes?” I responded, hesitantly. “I think that’s normal…” I continued, all of a sudden feeling the need to justify my weight gain to this woman.
“My daughter – she gained 16 pounds her whole pregnancy.”
Not sure how to respond to that, I dumbly repeated myself: “I think 20 pounds is normal.”
“Well,” the stylist responded, unconvinced, “You are tall. Maybe that’s why you can’t tell so much.”
Since my hair was in her hands, I deemed it best not to fight her on the healthy norms for pregnancy weight gain. But I did resolve to find a new stylist.
Random Wedding Guest
At the 12,345th I attended this fall, my husband was conversing with a fellow wedding guest. As I joined their conversation, this man asked, “When are you due?”
I told him, and this is what he followed up with:
“I never ask that question to women – but in your case it’s pretty obvious! Har har!” he chortled.
Easy for you to laugh, Mister. Wait until someone one day asks you if you’re pregnant! Oh wait, that won’t happen. Because you’re a MAN. And being a man, you are obviously idiotic regarding what to say about women and their weight.
Speaking of idiotic… just kidding! Damon has actually been very good – for the most part – when it comes to building me up. Not an easy task when your wife is dismayed that she somehow gained three pounds in a single week or that her freaking maternity dress won’t zip up.
Early on in my pregnancy, I sent Damon an article of things you should and shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman. The first thing on the list was, “Pregnancy becomes you.” Somehow forgetting that I had only hours ago sent him this list, that evening Damon came home and confidently announced, “Pregnancy becomes you!”
“Damon, are you really using a line I just emailed to you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Seriously? I just sent you an article where it says to say that exact phrase.”
“Diana, I didn’t read that anywhere! Really, pregnancy becomes you!”
“But you did read it. In the article I e-mailed you this afternoon.”
‘But pregnancy does become you. Even if I did read it, it’s true.”
From then on, Damon repeated that phrase to me on almost a daily basis. Recently he’s taken to telling me I look “lovely”. I have no idea where he read to say that, but I’m assuming he read it somewhere since “lovely” is not a word oft heard from the mouths of fighter pilots.
Despite his good intentions, he has had moments:
“Your stomach is like a perfectly formed, 40-year old beer belly!” Really. He told me our baby looked like a beer belly.
“You can really tell you’ve gained weight this week!” To be fair, I had stopped gaining weight and my doctor had instructed me to pack in the food in order to pack on the pounds. Damon was trying to be encouraging, but definitely missed the mark. You can think it, but don’t say it!
“Let me see your cankles.” Yes, he asked to see my cankles. After shooting him a death stare, he desperately backpedaled: “…Which you don’t have.”
Sorry, hon. Too little, too late. You can remove your foot from your mouth later.
I hope you readers have found this instructive. To recap:
-Do not point out where exactly a pregnant woman is gaining her weight. Especially if it’s her face – the one thing she can’t cover up in baggy clothing.
-Do not audibly gasp in shock when a pregnant woman tells you how much weight she has gained.
-Do not compare a pregnant woman’s baby bump to a beer belly. Only she’s allowed to make that comparison!
But this is only Part I. More to come.
*During our stay in Charleston, a local couple recommended we go to Wildflour, a bakery that features “Sticky Bun Sundays.” Despite the fact that we had just gorged on a breakfast of ricotta-blueberry stuffed french toast, bacon, and fruit, I felt it very important to seek out these sticky buns.
It. Was. Heaven. If you are ever in Charleston on a Sunday, go to Wildflour and get one – or several – of these pastries. Your taste buds will thank me. Even if that sticky bun is what tipped me over into the “definitely pregnant” phase, it was so worth it.Read More