For the last few months I've been frequenting an online bulletin board of moms who are expecting babies in October. We get together to swap stories about our pregnancies, ask questions, and gripe about all of the annoyances that come with being pregnant. If it weren't enough that we're expected to happily deal with feeling exhausted, weird skin changes, bloating and gastrointestinal maladies of all sorts (not to mention the actual baby growing inside) it seems like the most annoying part of pregnancy is dealing with the comments from others.
I polled the women on my birth board to get an idea of the most annoying pregnancy comments directed at them. I was surprised at the sheer number of responses, but also at the wide variety of responses, in fact there were so many, that I'll be writing about some of them next week! It wasn't surprising that a lot of women got strange comments about their bellies and eating habits (along with the inevitable belly pat). So here's what my friends had to say about comments about their expanding waistlines.
Many women were surprised at how many people said rude things about their bellies. Angela says people have asked her, "Are you sure you are only having one?" Her response, "UGH! Yeah!" Valerie said she has been getting similar comments, "You're about to have that little one any day now, right?" GRRRR!!!! "Umm, NO, I have another 5 months to go, I'm just fat!"
It seems like we as women take a perverse delight in seeing our friends and sisters getting rounder and rounder. A poster (who didn't include her name), wrote about a recent conversation she had with her sister, who said, "Oh it feels so good to finally be able to say your fat!" The poster says, that her sister ran away fast! While the subject of weight is pretty much taboo in our society for everyone else, some people think that it's perfectly fair game to talk about a pregnant woman's weight. Samantha says, "I gained a lot of weight with my last three pregnancies, and it took me a while to get it off. Now that I'm pregnant again, I have had people say 'are you afraid you won't be able to loose the weight?' or 'I bet you're worried about the weight.' Shut up!"
Even our husbands can't always resist snide little jibes. Keri says, "With my last pregnancy it seemed I put weight on everywhere. Although it was only a total of 25 lbs I looked huge. My husband said to me, 'I love that you are getting so gushy'. Never use gushy to describe a woman putting on weight, especially hormonally ones."
Caroline says, "My husband said to me just the other day... 'Wow, you lost your belly button!'' He quickly realized that was wrong!"
I'll freely admit that I'm more sensitive to comments from my husband than from other people. He knows his line, "You look even more beautiful when you're pregnant than you do when you're not." I know it's a lie, but I also appreciate that he loves me enough that he wants me feel good about myself--but it took him three pregnancies to get it right!
The thing that surprised me most about the responses I got was that as many people were annoyed or worried about comments that they were small. I guess I'm such a product of our thinness-obsessed culture that I'd take any comment about being small as a compliment--and this is still true for me after having two small babies!
Kimberly says, "I'm 17 weeks, and haven't gained a lot of weight, and I hate it when people ask me if I am paranoid about gaining weight. Or 'You need to eat more' or 'You're starving your baby.' No one should ever say anything about a pregnant person's weight."
Christina has a similar comment. She says, "I think many people don't realize how common miscarriages are and that many pregnant women may have had one or more. I myself have had two before this successful pregnancy so I worry a lot! I am 19 weeks along and a small woman to begin with. I had four people in one weekend tell me that I don't look pregnant or that I look small for how far along I am. I didn't take either as a compliment. It just made me even more worried and I think it is really insensitive. Why not just say, 'Wow! You look great!'"
While being told you look small can bring on nerves for some, it can make others second-guess the way they look in a non-pregnant state. Meg says she hates it when people say, "'I can't even tell you're pregnant', or 'You don't look any different.' (Are you saying I always look like I'm pregnant?)."
Kristin says, I am 17 weeks pregnant and there are four pregnant women in my office and a fifth one just gave birth last month. Every one at work keeps telling me that I am not getting very big. I am trying to remind myself that they are comparing me a lady who is 9 months pregnant and two ladies who are EIGHT WEEKS ahead of me! I did snap back at someone the other day, 'What? Are you telling me that my gut has always stuck out further than my boobs?!'"
Some of the posters had advice for people who don't know what to say to a pregnant woman. Cat says, "ANY questions/comments about weight are totally inappropriate. We all have enough worries that we don't need someone's insensitive comment setting us off." Caroline has two bits of advice, "NEVER pat a pregnant woman on the stomach while saying, 'Wow, you've gotten big!'" and "Don't tell a pregnant woman to 'Sit down and take a load off.'"
Maridee has some great advice for pregnant moms who have a hard time dealing with people who assume that a pregnant belly is public property. She says, "When people grab your stomach without asking, you should respond by grabbing a butt cheek or a testicle of theirs."
So there it is--we may be pregnant--but don't mess with us!