Stop me if you’ve done this before: You’ve just dressed to go out, and you turn and look in the mirror. “Well, I guess it won’t ever look like it did on the mannequin,” you think with a sigh before heading out the door. With me so far? We all know that’s body shaming, and we ALL know that it’s wrong, that we shouldn’t do it to ourselves, and that it isn’t healthy.
I have a confession to make: since I got pregnant, I’ve reverted back to doing it. Except now, it’s more like “baby shaming”.
It started innocently enough. I was trying on clothes in a maternity store in November when the sales lady asked me how far along I was. “15 weeks”, I declared with a smile. And for that, I got an “Oh.” Oh? Who says OH? People who are judging you based on how you look, that’s who. And with that seed planted in my mind, it has been a daily battle ever since. I even made a face and excuses when my own mother asked me for belly photos so she can see the baby’s progress from three provinces away.
Does it matter that I’m not 5’9″ and skinny to begin with so that my perfectly round belly can be seen above the waistline of my designer lowcut jeans that still fit me? According to the lady who works in an industry where she sees pregnant women every single day, it does. Does it matter that my belly isn’t actually perfectly round at all, but kinda slopes out from underneath my heart until it gets all wibbly down around my belly button? Oh, you bet it does because it isn’t shaped like the little pillow they give you for trying clothes on.
All right then. Find me the pillow that’s been run over by an armoured car. Find me the pants that will take away the swelling that just gets bigger as I grow, and will even out the places where my abdominal tissue has been eaten away by lumps of injured and calcified flesh. Find my the shirt that, at 6 months pregnant, will make me look like the classically pregnant lady and not just like someone trying to cram themselves into whatever they have in the closet. Betcha you can’t, because it doesn’t exist.
At my check-up two weeks ago I finally hit the weight I was when I first got pregnant. That’s GAINING IT BACK, folks. I lost weight consistently until I hit the 4 month mark. Constant sickness and an sudden aversion to many foods will do that to you. So you would think that in my head I would know that I’m gaining weight safely, naturally, and that if anything, my baby might be a bit on the small side.
You would think that. But no.
I have to go in for the Glucose Tolerance Test on Monday – the stage 2 one with the waiting and the fasting and all that jazz. Apparently my sister and my mother both had to do this test, so it’s probably just genetic that we were all a little elevated in our blood sugars during pregnancy. The way I broke down and cried when I found out, though – well, I thought I was a monster, that I couldn’t even grow a baby properly, that I was a general waste of humanity. None of my logic – my previous injuries, my healthy weight gain, my genetics – helped at all. I was baby shaming in the highest degree.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Inside me right now is growing a beautiful baby boy, and he will be loved and cherished. So his mum should feel the same way while she helps him grow, social norms and expectations be damned.
|Yep, that’s Christmas Daleks and the TARDIS on my shirt|
To the lady at the maternity store: I am creating life and I am magnificent.
To all the pictures on the internet: I have strength and courage beyond imagination.
To all pregnant ladies and mothers: My beauty will shine through every time my child smiles.
To myself I will add: I will remember this every single day.