Hat tip to mum-of-two Karin (and her shapely, Rubenesque curves) for this fearless post.
Karin writes: I was standing at the end of the hallway outside my daughter’s Reception classroom one afternoon about a year ago. The children were coming in from play time and I was about to start my one afternoon of volunteering. The school caretaker was walking towards me and as she stopped in front of me I greeted her. What happened next left me speechless. As I said “Hello Mrs B!” she reached out with both hands and placed them on my midsection. My midsection, just to be clear, was not incubating any babies at that time. She said “Oh, you’re expecting again!” as her hands rested on my pregnant-looking belly. I stammered “Uh, no, no, no. I am not pregnant!” She stared at me, disbelieving, and said “Really? Oh. Well…” and walked away. I was left shell-shocked and broken. Mrs B was one of the many people who had asked me if I was pregnant since giving birth to Sam two years ago.
I suffered similar indignities between Ella and Sam’s birth so being asked the dreaded question was not new to me. For me, it never was something I could shrug off, however. I know a lot of people who are able to come back with witty retorts about “No, too many biscuits, not enough gym time!” but I have never been able to do that. Every time someone assumed that I was pregnant and dared to ask the question, I managed to eek out, “No, not pregnant, just fat” and then would slink off to wallow in despair. For me it was just another reminder that I had not snapped back into my pre-pregnancy jeans; that I didn’t work out enough; that I should be thinner by now.
My physical state after both pregnancies and two C-section deliveries, was a source of much stress and sadness. It was not as simple as working out a bit and eating less. My midsection was damaged beyond easy repair. I was left with an umbilical hernia and a significant abdominal separation later diagnosed as a divarification of the rectus abdominus muscles. The gap was significant enough to allow my internal organs to slump through the gap in my abdominal muscles thus allowing me to still appear to be 6 months pregnant. For me it was not just laziness and not enough exercise but a genuine physical condition that was preventing me from looking normal. Every time I was asked the dreaded question by an unsuspecting bystander, it would hurt. Physically hurt! Almost like someone had punched me in my protruding midsection. I’ve polled other Mums who have been asked the same question and while some were strong enough and clever enough to not let it affect them, others confided in me that it did hurt and they were saddened by the intrusive question.
My general advice to all mankind is, if you can see the baby actually coming out from a woman’s nether-regions, then you can ask if she’s pregnant. Otherwise, don’t even go there. Keep your question in your head and several months down the road, if you see the same person with a baby in their arms, you’ll know you were right.
Think about it this way: you have absolutely no idea what a woman is going through when you’re wondering if she is pregnant. She could have just had the baby and finally got out of the house for some peace. She could be working on losing weight to get pregnant. She could have lost a baby during pregnancy or delivery yet still looks pregnant. Imagine the damage such a loaded question could do! Thanks to societal pressure and gossip mags, we all have the perception that women should bounce right back into shape once the baby has vacated the premises. Shouldn’t we instead be celebrating the fact that a mother has safely delivered a beautiful baby and allow them the time they deserve to do what’s best for themselves physically and mentally? Getting back on the treadmill and eating a calorie-restricted diet is not the priority. Consider that whenever you see a woman whom you suspect may be pregnant. Why not tell them how lovely and happy they look instead of prying into their lives too much?
Pop into your nearest Kiddicare store for a slice of sod-the-calories Millionaire’s Shortbread in the Kiddicafe plus everything you could need for your baby adventure from nursing bras to pregnancy pillows. Enjoy!