Last week I wrote about my experience of receiving congratulatory comments about my weight loss in the year after having Miss F. Fast forward another year and I’ve had a similar and even more concerning experience.
There is a certain admiration given to women who carry their pregnancy bump small or tight. Admiration with just a touch of envy thrown from women like me!
During my first pregnancy I piled on the pounds. A mix between not being settled in a new city, a pretty repetitive admin job, and the West Cornwall Pasties Co. stand at King’s Cross Station led to a substantial Katie struggling to waddle to the corner shop in the last month of pregnancy. I don’t know how much I weighed in the end. Perhaps it was a blessing that my scales cut out at around my 24th week. (*Insert joke here* though I am confident that this was due to the batteries dying rather than my weight gain!)
Some people commented, ‘you’re still pregnant?’… ‘You’ve got another month to go?’… Or the classic, ‘are you sure it’s not twins?’
I am certainly I’m not the only woman to have received these comments, to have given a tight smile and attempted to reply as politely as possible. My interior monologue: If only these people had listened to their mothers- if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all!
Two years on and I’m pregnant again. This time I’m carrying pretty small. Not super small but small enough for another lot of comments-
‘You look great!’… ‘What? You’ve only got another month to go?’ And the more sinister, ‘Well done’.
What’s different this time? Less sausage rolls? Probably. A new and busier job? Possibly. A unique baby? Almost certainly.
I thought that it was obvious and common knowledge among all but Daily Mail hacks that a woman’s weight or body is never an acceptable topic for comment let alone when she’s growing a human being in there. Clearly not. The sense of ownership we as a society have over women’s bodies only intensifies during this time when they are more vulnerable than ever. I need not even mention the months of photos of is-she?- isn’t she?-Katie Middleton.
What am I wanting to say? That women’s bodies are not for public ownership? Always, but not specifically this post!
What I want to say is: think before you comment. Think, what other factors could be going on here?
This question doesn’t just apply in this situation but let’s stick with pregnancy. You see a friend, colleague or acquaintance who is pregnant. Before you comment, think!
Is she actually having twins and is overwhelmed by the prospect?
Is her pregnancy weight gain causing complications which she is blaming herself for and definitely doesn’t need your comments?
Or, as in my case, is she having to have extra scans because medical staff are concerned her baby is too small? (I have learnt that the quickest way to shut the comments down is to mention this- no one is expecting a real answer to their poor attempt at a joke.)
Are you ready for all of this to pour out due to your offhand comment during after church coffee/ in the lift at work/ at the supermarket? Have you earned the right to hear this story? If the answer’s a no, stay schtum!
These considerations apply beyond the realm of pregnancy weight gain. In all situations, let’s love each other.
And, if in doubt, remember the words of St Ronan of Keating, ‘You say it best when you say nothing at all’