Words of Wisdom: Never Comment on a Pregnant Woman’s—or Any Woman’s—Largesse

One of life’s cruelties is that the medications the majority of infertile women take in their attempts to conceive make them look pregnant, regardless of whether they become so. 

I am not a petite woman:  I’m between 5’8” and 5’9”, but I always had a tiny waist.  One of my proudest moments during my eating-disordered years was when a woman got on an elevator with me, took one look at my belted mid-section and asked, “What size is your waist—16 inches?”             

Six years ago, after seven intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles, five of which were medicated, I ballooned, especially in my waist—my primary injection site—where I could pinch several inches.  I met my now-husband in the midst of my seventh cycle, and I complained one night about how big I was—with nothing to show for it.  He called me “Rubenesque.”  Obviously, I married him.  

With so much extra weight on me upfront, with the inability to work out because it would reduce blood flow to my T-shaped uterus, and with my dedication to overcoming my previously eating-disordered life by eating whenever I was hungry, I gained another 50 pounds during my pregnancy. 

For the last few months, I was barraged by one question, asked by the man in the high-risk pregnancy office whose sole job was to draw blood from pregnant women to passersby on the sidewalks and in stores:  “Are you having twins?”

And, over and over, I would smile weakly and reply, “No, just one very big baby.”

At the tail-end of my pregnancy, my stomach was so large that even my sweet husband, then my boyfriend, gasped when he walked into the bathroom to find me soaking in the tub.  He apologized and said he felt so sorry for me because I looked so uncomfortable.  And, I was. 

But, my son weighed a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces, and, with breastfeeding alone, I lost the rest of the weight.  My body has never been the same, but that’s why Spanx® were invented.

With this pregnancy, I was prepared for the impact of the medications, especially because the doses for my two in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles were so much higher than they were when I was doing IUIs.  I gained 15 to 20 pounds pre-pregnancy, then was pregnant with twins, then ate my way into numbness when Baby B had no heartbeat in the eighth week. 

Right now, I’m up a total of 45 pounds, and my pregnancy books irritatingly say that a healthy weight gain at 25 weeks of pregnancy is 14 to 16 pounds. 

My stomach is again so big that the comments have started, but this time I hate being asked if I’m pregnant with twins, because I was, but lost one.  And, even though I’ve accepted the loss, I don’t want to be reminded of it daily.

This morning, as I was lying on the couch with my almost-5-year-old son, he announced that my stomach is as big as a mountain, then he had G.I. Joe march across it. 

This afternoon, I was asked twice, “Are you absolutely sure there is only one baby in there?”  

From my fourth to 24th weeks of pregnancy, I’ve had 10 ultrasounds.  I’m positive there is only one baby left in here.

Then, tonight, while we were talking before bed, I teased my son, telling him I would tickle-torture him or nibble off his cute toes if he didn’t listen to the book I was reading.  This is a game we play often, in which I tease him, and he insists, “You’re kidding!”  Then, I admit that, of course, I’m kidding, because I would never hurt him.

But, tonight, instead of his standard “You’re kidding,” he blurted, “But you’re a giant woman.”

A giant woman…

He’s lucky I didn’t nibble off his cute toes in retaliation, because even if you’re 4, you should never, ever comment on how big any woman is, pregnant or otherwise.

Tomorrow, I’ll have his Daddy explain to him that, if he must comment on my size, the correct word isn’t giant; it’s Rubenesque.

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