I’m not pregnant.
No. Not pregnant. Not even a little bit. Not now and not for a while. Not pregnant. Just “fat”.
You see, when I WAS pregnant, I was blessed with a big baby and a condition where I produced a lot of amniotic fluid. I was HUGE. I was MASSIVE. My belly pretty much had it’s own weather system going on. You get the picture.
Because I was underweight before my pregnancy, people noticed a change right away. I had people guessing I was “in the family way” from five weeks pregnant. Five weeks. The pregnancy test had barely turned positive.
By 9 weeks I was in maternity clothes. By 28 weeks people thought I was full term. By 34 weeks none of my maternity clothes fit my enormous bump, and I constantly had people asking if I was having twins.
“No, no. Just the one” I would say, laughing.
“One! Wow! You’re HUGE!” they would respond, looking at my belly in awe. I would mutter a vague “yeah….” because in what universe is it OK to tell a strange woman she is huge. Even if she is.
Some people would continue to press. Telling me that I MIGHT actually be having twins and not know it. Someones brothers, girlfriends, aunts, cousin had that happen. They saw it on the Discovery channel. Whatever. I would explain to them that I was sure that wasn’t the case given the number of ultrasounds I had had, so detailed that I practically knew my kids’ hair colour. They would shake their head and say “well…I guess you’ll find out soon!” in a vaguely ominous tone that had ME starting to wonder whether I had a hiding twin in there.
Let me clarify. I wasn’t big everywhere. I was underweight when I became pregnant, and my arms and legs pretty much stayed the same as they always had. It was just my belly that was enormous. Now that sounds like a good thing, I’m sure there are women out there who want to hit me with a wooden stick right now. But I can assure you a gargantuan belly comes with its own set of problems.
For starters my hips couldn’t take the strain and started to pull apart. I suffered terrible pain for months, I had to strap my hips together each morning, and by the end of my pregnancy I could barely walk. My stomach muscles separated to an enormous degree (which ultimately resulted in my hernia), and the nerves were affected meaning much of my belly was actually numb. After the birth I had to wear a bandage over my stomach for weeks to train the muscles back together so my guts wouldn’t spill out. My skin literally started to rip apart. To this day I have stretch marks deep enough to fit a finger into. Ain’t no Bio Oil going to help with that!
Around 32 weeks I went for my antenatal appointment and the midwife asked how long I had to go.
“8 weeks.” I told her. She glanced at my bump.
“Oh, honey. You’re not going to make that.” she told me.
The decision was made for me to be induced. But luckily the midwife was right and Master D came of his own accord, 8 pound 4…a few weeks early.
So where am I going with all of this? What is the point?
The point is that I am now the owner of a post baby belly. Of course all mothers are to some extent, but mine is particularly horrendous. I have a mass of extra skin around my belly that no exercising, no diet, and nothing non surgical is ever going to fix. I’m 28 years old and I can never find a pair of jeans that fit, I can’t wear tight t-shirts, and I will never wear a bikini again.
I have noticed a few things on the internet recently celebrating the post baby bodies of mothers. Black and white pictures of stretch marks and women proudly baring their bodies and proclaiming how much they love their stretch marks because their belly was “a home for their child” etc etc. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s great that some women are celebrating themselves. Awesome. Good for you. But I certainly don’t celebrate my belly, and if you saw it you probably wouldn’t either.
The reason being is that I am constantly…CONSTANTLY…asked if I am pregnant. It happens all the time. My family tell me it is because it is only my belly that is fat, the rest of me is (allegedly) quite slim. My body doesn’t fit together so people put two and two together and get five. t don’t know if that makes things better or worse.
Anyway last night Hubster and I went to a work ‘do. I wore a dress that I THOUGHT looked quite good in. I had a glass of wine then switched to soft drink as Lorazapam and alcohol usually results in me falling asleep or making an arse out of myself. Possibly both.
I was introduced to a guy and he immediately said “Nice to meet you Rachael. My wife is pregnant too!”
Usually my response is “no, not pregnant. Just fat.” in a kind of apologetic “don’t-worry-you’re-not-the-first-to-make-that-mistake” kind of tone. But on this occasion, in front of everyone in their business get up, I was left speechless. Laughed, and then slipped away to the toilet to examine my abdomen.
While in there I took this incriminating photo as kind of a record, and started analysing the situation. I honestly the dress thought it hid my horrendous belly. But maybe it looks like a maternity dress? Maybe it was the soft drink? But you don’t go assuming women are pregnant because they drink Lemonade instead of wine. God! If this is me “looking good” then what the hell do people think when I’m having my “fat” days?!
If it were a one off situation I would have laughed it off. But it’s not. It happens a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes it strikes a nerve.
You see, I wanted to be pregnant this year. I never wanted a large age gap between children. But I became sick – physically and mentally. I guess life doesn’t always work out the way you want. I wish I was pregnant a lot of the time. Not just because I do want another child at some point. But because at least I wouldn’t have to go to great lengths to hide my belly. To avoid full length photos. To have to diffuse awkward conversations. Yes, I’m one of a small subset of women who feels better about her image when pregnant than not pregnant. You’re SUPPOSED to have a belly when you are pregnant! And as much as it irritated me; being told you are huge when you are pregnant is a whole lot better than being told you are pregnant when you’re not.
On the plus side (no pun intended), It has given me an idea for Dr. Seuss-esque book..
I’m not pregnant in a room, I’m not pregnant to a groom.
No not pregnant, not am I. Though I struggle to zip my fly.
But I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat. I’m happy with one son, and a cat,
Let’s settle this, for big, for small,
I’m not pregnant. Not at all.