Saturday, September 7, 2013

Truth truce

Last night my neighbor, whom I think the world of, said this to me, and I'm 8.5 months pregnant:

Steve: Now I don't mean for this to sound....

me: Oh, God, here we go...

Nervous laughter was shared by the group of us gathered for dinner.

Steve: Well, I see you all the time, but for some reason, just now you are looking really pregnant.

I laughed.  Because he's right: I do look really pregnant.  However, this is not something to say to me while I'm feeling large and in charge, as evidenced by the look on my husband's face when Steve said this.  Tom started slicing his pointer finger across his throat, eyes wide, panic setting in.

Tom: Steve, Steve, stop now.  I have to deal with the fall out later.

This post is not inspired by Steve's words, but rather they're the nail in the coffin.  I started this post a week or so ago, and Steve just pushed it to the top of my list.  I give you a trip down memory lane: things that have been said to me while I've been pregnant.  Things that I would recommend you NOT say to a pregnant woman any time soon.  Or Ever. Steve's was the first, which begins my top 10 list:

2.  "Mama, your belly used to be flat and now it's just fat." - Sean the Cito

Endearing from my 4 year old child, but not really what I want to hear.  God love him, he was just telling the truth.

3.  Conversation between a mother and her children:

Audrey: Mama, can I say hi to the baby?

me: Sure.

Audrey: (in a high pitched voice, motherly, while patting my breasts) Oh, hi baby. 

me: No the baby's down here (pointing at my stomach). 

Audrey: Oh.  (looking down at my stomach and then back to my breasts) Why not the baby up here?

me: Well...

I mean, yes, the breasts are huge and one could probably fit a couple fetuses in them, but in fact, no, there's no baby in there.

Sean: Mama, why does Audrey point to your breast feeders when she says hi to the baby?

Ooooookay.

4. Conversation between me and a coworker:

Maria: How many months are you?

me: I'm 3.5 months.

Maria: Oh my goodness, what are you going to look like when you're 8 months??  When I was pregnant with my kids, the doctor was concerned I wasn't putting on enough weight. 

Thanks a lot.

5. This from an acquaintance back in July:

woman: When are you due again?

me:  Mid-October.

woman:  Wow, you just look like you're ready to pop.

(I'm only 6 months along.)

me: Yeah, I guess it's just easier to pop out when it's my 3rd.

woman:  Oh yeah... It was easy to lose the weight after my first, a little harder after the 2nd, but the third - pshhh - Forget it!  I still have it and my youngest is 4 years old.

6. After my first delivery, a woman from our church brought us a meal.  Such a huge help.

woman:  When did you have your baby?

me: About 3 weeks ago.

woman:  You don't even look like you were pregnant.

me:  Oh, thank you.

woman:  Don't think the weight will come off as fast after the 2nd one.

Hey lady, thanks for bringing us food, we really need it.  Please keep your passive aggressive woman-hating comments to yourself.

7. An acquaintance at the gym:

woman: Hey, Anna, how are you feeling?

me: I'm feeling good.

woman:  When's you're due date again?

me: October 16.

woman: That's coming up!

me: Yes it is, probably faster than I know.

Then after some pregnancy-banter -

woman: When I was pregnant, I didn't even need maternity clothes until the 8th month.  I could just fit into my regular pants until then.  I was just so skinny, I guess.

(I'm wearing size XL shorts and an oversized t-shirt in which to exercise so that my sweaty skin doesn't cling to clothes that are hugging my body too tightly.  I fear I look like a blimp.  I'm only 7 months along.  I have been wearing maternity clothes since I was 2 months along.)


8. During my 2nd pregnancy, from one of the older, female volunteer ushers who worked for me:

usher:  You look good today.

me:  Oh thanks!  (and then, this self-deprecating joke) It's called I blew dry my hair today. 

She laughed.  And then - 

usher: You must have been really sick earlier on, because you looked horrible a couple months ago. 

me: Well, and I do have make up on today. 

usher: Oh that must be it.


9.  And another from an older, female volunteer usher:

usher:  Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?

me: No, I like to be surprised.

usher: Oh good for you.  Well, I think you must be having a girl.

me: Really? Why's that?

usher: There's an old Greek saying that says when you're pregnant with a girl, it sucks all the beauty out of you.


And finally, saving the best for last - 

10.  From my dear, loving husband, during my first pregnancy, when he still attended my OB appointments with me.  He made the mistake of standing just behind my shoulder while they weighed me.  He could see the numbers on the scale as clearly as I could.  I was 37 weeks along.

Tom: Wow, babe, you're really setting records with this one!

Friends, can we just call a truce?  This is a truth truce.  Though the things you say might be truthful, the only truth I'm interested in hearing right now is this: "You look beautiful."  Or some variation of that.  The fact is, I keep enough negative thoughts rolling through my head all the time about my weight gain, how clothes don't fit right, how uncomfortable I feel.  I don't need anyone else's help in putting extra thoughts about weight or largeness in my brain. 

On the flip side, there are many moments when I look in the mirror and see myself as beautiful.  I'm beautiful because I'm creating a child.   I'm beautiful because I have extra weight pushing on my bladder and pelvis at all times of the day while still running after two children, changing diapers, cleaning up messes from trantrums, and trying to stay sane.  As Sean has told other people, "my mom goes to the bathroom a lot."  Yes, yes, I do, because there's a little person inside of me who decides randomly to punch my bladder.  S/he has no concern for whether I'm in the car, exercising, sleeping, or just went to the bathroom, but consistently the punching causes me to return to the bathroom.  I spend my days in the bathroom: sometimes for me, sometimes because of the baby, sometimes for the 4 year old, sometimes for the 2 year old.

I'm beautiful because along with a battlefield of other mothers, we are responsible for producing and carrying on the human race. So if you want to say something truthful, tell a pregnant woman just how beautiful she looks.  Tell her she's glowing.  Tell her she looks great.  Take her out for a massage, or a pedicure, or allow her to put her feet up.  For God's sake, do not - I REPEAT - do not grab her belly without asking.  This is not the most comforting feeling, especially if you don't ask.  And if you can find nothing else to do or say: give her a high-5 and say, "Soldier on, sister!"