Public Versus Private

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Categories Attitude, Other people, Perspective, Pregnancy

This is more of a reflection on being pregnant for the first time, than it is related to multiples, so take from it what you will. I am 16 weeks pregnant with twins, now, and there have been plenty of things that have been surprising thus far. (Who knew that a pregnancy symptom was getting bloody noses? Or your gums bleeding like crazy when you floss?) There have been plenty of things that haven’t been so surprising, too. (It taking a while to set in that there are babies growing in there, not just unexplained weight gain, etc.)

Of course, I knew that people would walk up to you and touch your stomach without hesitating or comment on how big or small you are. But, I didn’t know how uncomfortable I’d feel in that spotlight. It could be that I’ve been a therapist in the realm of eating disorder treatment for 7 years and have it quite engrained in my head that you just don’t comment on the size of other women’s bodies, positively or negatively. It could be that I’m a feminist and believe that women’s bodies are private property. Sometimes there isn’t even a touching of the stomach. But, I’ll run into one of my parents friends who I know knows that I’m pregnant with twins, but I haven’t seen since. And their eyes immediately go to my stomach. I’m sure I’ve done this a gazillion times to other pregnant women, too. It’s natural. You hear they’re pregnant, and the first thing you do is look to see if they’re showing. And if you hear they’re having twins-all the more reason to see if they look bigger than you’d expect. But there’s something in that gaze that feels invasive to me. It feels like implied judgment-are you eating enough for three of you? You don’t look as big/little as so-and-so did when she was pregnant with twins… I know, I’ll need to get used to this.

Another thing. Thanks to you all, I was prepared for many of the intrusive questions: “Do twins run in your family?” “Did you do fertility treatments?” And for the unwarranted commentary: “Better you than me.” “Double trouble,” and the like. I don’t think I was prepared for how many people, most of whom don’t even have multiples, would “warn” me about how hard it will be. I want to make a t-shirt, or a stamp for my forehead that reads, “Yes, I know it will be hard. Please be excited for us anyways.” I’ve already got the list in my head of things never to say to infertile women. (“Don’t worry, you’re young.” “If you just relax, it’ll happen.” “At least you don’t have cancer.”) And now I’m starting to compile a list in my head of things I’ll try never to say to a pregnant woman. My number one: “You’re tired now, just wait!”

The upside to all of this is that I’m probably developing a thicker skin. And I suppose a positive way to look at the very private experience of being pregnant becoming public is that many of these people are simply trying to help take care of me and my growing babies.

What would you put on the list of things you’ll never say to a pregnant woman?

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6 thoughts on “Public Versus Private”

  1. I don’t remember being bothered (too much, anyway) with the stares and questions…aside from fertility-related ones…while I was pregnant. I was appalled, though, with how people would glance at my stomach after the babies were born!!!

    I remember so clearly running into a former colleague in the grocery store, when the girls were a few months old. As soon as she recognized me, that’s the first place she looked! She’s a very sweet person, and I have to believe she didn’t “mean” to do that…and I guess it’s just natural curiosity to wonder if a woman will lose the baby weight???…but I was so offended!!!

    I also remember a couple of family members, asking over the phone several times (since we don’t live close to family), “How are you coming with the weight?”

    As if a new mom doesn’t have enough on her plate!!! Gah!!!

    So…that’s my biggest take-away…never to look at a woman’s stomach / size…and CERTAINLY never to ask about it!!!…after a baby is born.

    Hang in there, Mama, and do your best to enjoy the ride! :) :)

  2. Definitely a strange comment from the lady at the counter! Random!

    Mandy, that’s terrible that people would think it’s okay to comment on your weight after you just had twins! Oh my goodness! I guess it is one thing to comment while you know someone is pregnant, but unforgiveable to comment afterwards!

  3. I only ever had one person touch my belly, it was a co-worker and she never did it again. I guess I give off a don’t-touch-me vibe. :)
    But I often had people making comments about how huge I was and they were “SO GLAD” it was twins. I will be the 1st to admit I was huge and uncomfortable and ready-to-have-them-anytime-now for a long time. (They were born at 38 weeks. I was truly gigantic.) I have always been overweight, and adding two human beings and all their accouterments and about 13 gallons of fluid didn’t help my body image issues.
    But if parenting has taught me anything it is that people LOVE to make other people’s personal business their own.

  4. “Oh my…you’re going to have your hands full!”
    Thank you for stating the obvious in such a condescending fashion. Your tone is unappreciated. Your judgement unwarranted. Your opinion unwanted.
    Next, please.

  5. I’m 29 weeks pregnant with twins and I’ve just about had it with the intrusive comments as well. This past week I have had 2 co workers ask me how much weight I gained so far. Everyday I hear “Youre getting bigger each day”. I say “well I am growing babies that’s what I’m supposed to do”. I said ” I’m not going to tell you that”. Nonetheless this particular person asked me this in a staff meeting. I agree Katie,it’s best to not make comments about a women’s body positive or negative. Some folks are just uncouth. A simple congratulations is good enough . and I love Kristin’s comment!

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