Andrew and I had our second ultrasound yesterday, a follow-up ultrasound so they could check the position of my placenta. (Let’s hope the position is good.) We were relieved to get confirmation that Baby Littell is still a girl—I had visions of a surprise that would send us out in a desperate quest for new clothes and bedding. She’s even head down now, clearly ready for the big day.
When we arrived, the technician asked my due date. Thinking he had it in front of him, I said, “The 17th.”
“Of January?” he asked.
“Um, October,” I said.
He looked at me in shock. “Really? You’re so small,” he said. “You don’t look eight months at all. I bet you do exercises to keep your abs in shape.”
This seems like a particularly insensitive comment coming from someone who should know better, someone who sees pregnant women all the time, and my annoyance at the “you can’t possibly be eight months along!” commentary is growing.
Such observations remind me of similar comments I received for pretty much my entire childhood. I was always skinny—scrawny, even; underweight is one way to describe it. And this was always a huge thing for me. One of the cruelest days for underweight kids had to be pay-what-you-weigh day at The Ground Round, a restaurant in upstate New York. (Actually, in hindsight, this is a cruel day for all but the most growth-chart-average children. What restaurant exec thought up this sadistic idea??) Molly and I always weighed in at, oh, $0.50 or less, well past the time when $0.50 would have been normal, eliciting endless comments from the waitstaff. Horrifying.
Anyway, as these things go, this all stopped bothering me once I got a bit older, had more important things to think about, and, as my mother would say, “filled out.” And yet—and yet—it bothers me now when I’m told I’m “so small” for being eight months pregnant. It shouldn’t, but it does, even when it comes from someone who’s not a doctor. I am not a big person, and I am not going to be a big pregnant person. And unless my glucose levels have an unexpected reaction to all the wheat bread I've been eating, my baby is not going to be overly big, either. It’s not like I’m dieting, trying to keep my weight down, and I am certainly not “trying to keep my abs in shape.” (I can barely get up from a prone position without Andrew’s help, let alone do crunches.)
Sigh. I think anyone who’s been pregnant or has been married to a pregnant person knows this already, but really the only right things to say to a pregnant woman are “You look great!” “When are you due?” and “Congratulations!” And leave it at that.