By Krystal Marx, Bigger Expectations
Repeat after me:
“It is NEVER okay to ask a woman if she’s pregnant.”
Apparently, I never got that memo…or the follow-up memo that states that I should be offended if asked.
I’ve lurked on pregnancy message boards, envying those who bemoan the constant belly-touchings of strangers, hourly “How far along are you??” questions from co-workers, and claims that their three-month pregnant tummy-pooches are too big for their pre-pregnancy jeans.
I’ve strolled through maternity clothing stores at the mall, observing how sales associates flock to the perky-bellied expectant mothers, exclaiming how adorable they would look in this season’s palazzo pants…all the while four months further along than they are and yet seemingly invisible to those same clerks.
It’s not because I’m not pregnant…I’m due in just 10 days with my third child.
It’s because I’m fat and pregnant.
On “The Happiest Time Of Your Life Like OMGeeeee”
It. Is. Uncomfortable.
Now, this applies to women of any size while growing The Next Generation of Taxpayers inside their bodies, not just those of us who are overweight. But is that what we are told? Is that the line we are sold when Aunt Mildred’s eyes dart from our ring fingers to the clock on the wall and back, “tsk-ing” in lamentation over how long it has taken us to procreate with the partner we’ve been with for only a month or the spouse with whom your names on the marriage license is barely dried?
Nope. It’s not.
Nor is it what the media portrays pregnancy to be.
“No, really, you’re GLOWING!”
“You’ll feel like a true woman.”
“It’s what our bodies were made for!”
“Your partner/spouse will think you’re irresistible!”
Women are pressured into having babies the way that the rest of society is pressured into college right out of high school; it’s what is expected…it’s the norm…and we don’t shirk the norm, people. I have so many female friends who have decided that children just aren’t for them – for many fantastic, personal reasons – and receive so much crap for that you would think they said they were into cannibalism.Our bodies are policed and never more so then when we are pregnant.
Or fat and pregnant.
On Health, Your Fetus & Being A Fatty
My OB is a saint. Truly. I would nominate her for sainthood (if I knew how that worked and wasn’t certain she had to be dead first and, well, she is just not allowed to die until after my baby is born). But this is my third baby…and the OB I started with, with my first baby, was…not so pleasant.
I remember being merely 12 weeks along, bouncing excitedly on the exam room bed, when she walked in with a huff and told me, right off the bat, that I was a likely candidate for gestational diabetes and to just start planning on it now. Never mind that I had weight loss surgery a year prior, with the goal of being healthy enough to get/stay pregnant. Never mind that I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes…and then beat it through diet, exercise, and the aforementioned weight loss surgery.
Never mind that I had – and my chart clearly stated – my first miscarriage only a couple of months before seeing the big, fat (heh) “positive” on the pregnancy test and was a bundle of nerves.
Never mind that her bedside manner was forevermore equated with that of a rampaging zombie.
When I asked what the indicators were for her pre-diagnosis, she eyed me up-and-down.
After that visit, I switched to someone who I did not envision punching (enter Saint OB), and have been treated like a human ever since. Her nursing staff…well, let’s just say that “Have you tried NOT eating dessert?” or “Well, you ARE a bigger woman…” are still offered up as possible reasons for one foot swelling (which never happened before), or bouts of intense G.I. distress.
Don’t believe that kind of anti-fatty-havin’-a-baby attitude exists in the medical world?
Just Google “fat and pregnant” and see what you come up with. It is pejorative, at best…and down-right terror-inducing at worst. The default medical opinion is that you will have an uphill battle, complete with complications and extra work, only to finish with a baby the size of King Kong and – get this – Fat Vagina Problems.
Yep. That’s a thing.
“In this theory, birth attendants believe that women of size have a lot of extra fat tissue internally, crowding the maternal pelvis and birth canal. Extra fat tissue then supposedly gets in the way and obstructs the passage of the baby through the bony pelvis and/or vagina.” – The Well-Rounded Mama.
Known in the medical field as “soft tissue dystocia,” it is taught in medical or midwifery school that soft tissue dystocia is the cause of many cesareans in fat women, and they believe it with all of their hearts. It’s very difficult to get them to question its existence…which explains why fat moms-to-be are pushed more toward C-sections than VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), even though C-sections are riskier for plus-size mamas than delivering vaginally.
Wow…you’re… actually pregnant
Sure am, Barista Whom I Told Of My Pregnancy Six Months Ago And Who Finally Decided To Believe Me. Sure am.
For some reason, this hits me hardest…harder than not finding attractive maternity wear, harder than assuming medical staff. Hearing that I am not “looking pregnant” when I am, in fact, all kinds of knocked-up with my third and final baby hits me right in the heart.
Because I am fat and pregnant, I am doubted.
Because I am fat and pregnant, I don’t receive the same attention.
Because I am fat and pregnant, I hear all about my health from complete strangers.
Because I am fat and pregnant, I am warned of how big my baby “is totally going to be.”
Because I am fat and pregnant, there is little to no privacy.
Luckily, I have a ridiculously hard to kill self-esteem.
Lookit! Lookit! A belly!
… and absolutely no problem calling attention to what I love, even when no one else will. As I have mentioned previously, and will ad infinitum, I love myself.
I love my shape, my size, what makes up ‘Me’…not all the time (come on, I’m human), but a good 99 percent of the time. I’m a huge Krystal-fan. My husband loves me. My children love me. My friends and family love me. I can – and do – bounce back from disappointments like not being “preggo-acknowledged” pretty quickly.
It just breaks my heart that the “happiest time” of a woman’s life is, yet again, a time when she is most judged.