According to my favorite pregnancy book (so far), The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy, a pregnant woman should not be surprised or offended by the unavoidable off-center remarks about her condition that she will inevitably receive from both acquaintances and strangers. Today, I received my first cutting remarks from people who (whom?) I am sure were not intending to hurt my feelings.
I was setting my lunch tray – salad, potato soup, and a glass of water with a splash of lemonade – down on the table when a group of 5 gals started talking to me. From what I understand, all five of them have children, aged 4 months up to teenagers, none of them is shaped even remotely close to perfect. Well, except for the one six-foot-tall supermodelesque girl, who also happens to be the mother of the 4 month old.
So, as I set my tray down, one of the girls, let’s call her Girl #1*, asks, “Hey Nikki, how far along are you now?”
“Oh,” I say, “about 6 or 6 1/2 months. I keep losing count.”
“Really?!?” she gasped, apparently quite taken aback by my answer. “But you’re so big!”
Girl #2 chimes in, “Yeah, you’re looking pretty big for six months. Are you sure there’s just one baby in there?”
“Er,” I stammered. “I’m pretty sure there’s just one, but there’s always room for surprises!” I tried to act all nonchalant and laugh with them, but part of me was so surprised by the comments that my expression surely would have betrayed me to anyone with even a slight penchant for observation.
“Yeah, cause when [Girl #5] was pregnant you could hardly even tell! You’re bigger than she was right before she went on FMLA!” said Girl #4.
“Gasp!” I mustered, then, “Yes, you definitely did look good right up to the end,” I said bittersweetly to Girl #5.
Then the Girl #5, brand new mother of the 4 month old, six feet tall and probably weighing in at a whopping 115 pounds said, “Well, you’re not really that big, I suppose. You probably just look big because you’re so short.”
Um, speechless. I blinked stupidly, weighing my response options, weighing their intent. I honestly don’t believe they meant to offend me in any way; I think they just collectively managed to temporarily lose the internal filter that most of us have and which prevents us from catching a nasty case of the old foot-in-mouth disease. So I let it go.
When I returned to my desk, I chatted with my colleague, “T”, about the conversation. Her jaw dropped as I recounted the conversation, and she assured me that I’m progressing just fine, that I’m not a big fat cow. We laughed about how some people just don’t have the tact that most grown adults have managed to develop somewhere along the way. I quoted my mother, who, many years ago said something along the lines of, “Let it go, like water off a duck’s behind.”
I got back to work, and not five minutes later another co-worker came up. Let’s call him “B”. “Well, how much longer until the little surprise?” he asked.
“What surprise?” I pointed to my belly. “You mean this?”
“Yeah, when’s that baby coming out?”
“Three more months and one day, if everything goes as planned!” I said, glowing with motherly pride.
“What?!?” He stepped back and weighed me with his eyes. “But you look like you’re ready to have that baby right now!”
“Yeah! I mean, you’ve really started to pop out there, haven’t you?”
“Um, yeah, I guess,” I said. “Maybe I’m just starting to get a little fat.”
“Well, I can take you out horseback riding,” he offered, in what I initially thought was a kindhearted gesture, “if you want to hurry that baby along or anything.”
“Um, thanks, B.,” I said. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
He winked, did that little tongue-cheek-clicking sound that people do that is usually accompanied by a wink and forming a hand into the shape of a gun (know what I mean?), and then he walked away.
I was absolutely dumbfounded.
So what did I do? What would any self-respecting pregnant woman who has just been told by several people that she’s a Fatty McFatterton do in this situation? I had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And then two little rolls of Smartee’s. And that’s that.
* Please note: the names have been changed to protect the (somewhat) innocent.