Some pregnant women are absolutely adorable. You know the type: cute, round little baby bump, stylish maternity clothes, and from the back (hell, sometimes even from the front!) you can’t even tell she’s pregnant. Those women just glow.
And then … there are the other pregnant women. The ones who get so freakishly huge and miserable-looking that perfect strangers are concerned for their wellbeing. The type you’d never see in an ad for maternity wear.
As much as I wanted to fall into the “cute pregnant” category, it wasn’t meant to be – because in four pregnancies, the least amount of weight I gained was fifty pounds (and that was while teaching Zumba six to eight hours a week until the middle of my ninth month!). I don’t know whether to chalk it up to genetics or slow metabolism or just crappy luck, but I was roughly the size of a yacht every time. And us big bellied pregnant women have some unique problems that those teeny pregnant girls just don’t have. Like …
1. Gaggles of gawkers. When your belly looks like you’re incubating a fourth-grader, people stare. Some try to do it subtly (news flash: that doesn’t work), and some just outright gape at you with horrified, bulging eyes. Sometimes they point, or nudge their companion with an elbow. Want to know how it feels? Try walking around Target in a rubber bodysuit and a clown wig.
2. Crude commenters. Of course, when gawking isn’t enough, there are always comments. In my experience, these happen during nearly every public outing, and they fit into three categories. First there are the acceptable, yet tiresome, questions – such as, “Are you overdue?” or “How much longer do you have?” Then they move into you’re-pushing-it territory with things like, “Wow, are you sure there’s just one in there?” and “Bless your heart, that looks painful!” Category three is reserved for the unbelievably rude: “You are HUGE!” and “Oh my gosh! Amber, look at how big she is! Could she get any bigger?! I was never that big!”
Along with the comments come unsolicited stories and guesses of how huge your baby will be. Because of course.
3. Clothes woes. Maternity clothing is fashionable … when you’re a petite-to-average-sized pregnant woman. But when you’ve got enough belly room for a baby elephant, anything that fits looks like a circus tent. The good clothes are reserved for more standard sizes, while you’re relegated to whatever the designers threw together from their extra fabric. The bottom of your stomach is always hanging out of something because even the stretchiest panel pants tend to creep down, and no shirt is ever long enough to make up for it. And don’t even think about borrowing maternity clothes from your friends, because none of those will fit, either.
4. Dressing room drama. As if having to buy new clothing weren’t a harrowing enough experience, throw in the fact that dressing rooms in most stores are tiny. Do you know how difficult it is to maneuver your glacier-sized self into a pair of pants when you’re squeezed into such a confined space? And full-length mirrors are just depressing because you can actually see how your calves are starting to blend in with your ankles. Hormone-fueled dressing room meltdowns ensue.
5. Sticky situations. During pregnancy, your body changes pretty dramatically in a relatively short period of time – especially when you get super-big. So it’s easy to underestimate your size when you’re, say, trying to squeeze between two clothing racks or get out of the car in a tight parking space. Then you end up feeling embarrassed because your belly swipes half the women’s size tens off their hangers, or you have to move to a bigger booth in a restaurant because you get stuck trying to wedge yourself into the first one. (Yes. This happened to me.)
6. Grace, schmace. There is absolutely no way to move gracefully when your front is sticking out more than Kim Kardashian’s rear. Your swagger turns to waddle, your sashay to shuffle. You walk like a duck with a hemorrhoid, but you can’t help it. Heaven forbid you’re like this during the winter months, where ice and snow on the ground can make your not-so-fancy footwork particularly treacherous.
7. Weighty issues. Most often, a big belly = big weight gain. It’s always so much fun seeing the doctor peering disapprovingly over your chart and getting “the lecture” at every single appointment, as if you’ve embarked on this nine-month-long fattening spree for giggles. Not only that, but if you’re like me, you don’t just gain it in the front – you gain it everywhere. (Even my nose got bigger.) Then at the end, when the baby is born, you can finally see your legs again and you realize your hips and thighs widened to support your gargantuan cargo. And thighs don’t just magically melt away after giving birth. Also? That much strain kills your back … then you buy ugly shoes in an attempt at comfort. Yikes.
8. A mammoth marathon. In the last few weeks before the baby comes, even women with tiny little baby bumps reach a point where they feel huge. But for those of us who are huge, we reach that point much, much sooner. When your “bump” is more like a mountain, you have not weeks, but months of navigating around it. You struggle to tie your shoes, paint your nails, shave your legs, and trim your pubes (my apologies to all my former obstetricians). And you get to experience all the loveliness I’ve described above for what seems like at least half of your pregnancy.
On the bright side, looking like you’re about to give birth at any moment does have its perks. People are always offering you a seat or wanting to help you with something, and you can feign labor to get yourself out of a speeding ticket.
… Not that I’d know anything about that.