bump day

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so here we are at a week + 2 post birth and i’m struck by how similar my belly looks to my baby’s. a little bulge of roundness in the center. the only real difference being more freckles on my part and more healing cord on hers.

truly, i miss my big belly. i’m in the minority of women that prefers their pregnant form to their non-gestating form. i must remember to gaze on this midsection with fondness for the home it provided for my girls.

i can already feel that fondness starting to fade. that’s why i think i need this series to continue through the 4th trimester.

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did you know your pregnancy comments are a body conversation?

i’ve had a lot of time to sit on some thoughts and feelings about this subject for a couple of months now… since right about the time i started getting a belly.

so, late pregnancy starts to really show you how many conversational freaks there are out there in the world. people start saying, and sometimes shouting from the other side of the street, odd comments about your growing frame. for some reason these statements have put me more on my guard than my first pregnancy. i think a good deal about the way i feel women’s bodies are treated and discussed has changed within me since my pregnancy with darla. i have a few thoughts to put out there for you to ponder, should you choose:

i think there is some kind of drive within people that makes them want to connect with pregnant mothers. we all want to connect with life. i wholeheartedly believe this drive stems from a good place, a human place, but society at large seems to be lacking in some tools for communicating with women about this life change, probably due to the aforementioned undercurrent of negativity we have going on towards women’s bodies.

the majority of comments i get from people, strangers and not, are negative. these comments are about my size, how tired i look, “you’re about to pop” or “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” and other things of various negative connotations. i think i can tell you with 100% certainty that no woman, pregnant or not, has ever been happy to hear she looks big or tired or about to pop.

and let me state two other things i know as a fact: 1. in the scheme of pregnant ladies, i’m on the smaller end. yes, i look big for my frame but i know i’m not big enough for people to assume i’m carrying twins. 2. i’m a happy pregnant lady. i am embracing this bigness. I LIKE my roundness and LOVE this body fullness. i’m clearly not shy about it since i put in on the gawddamned internet every week, so i’m imagining that if it’s hard for me to let these comments roll off then how does the mother who really doesn’t like how her body is changing in pregnancy or the extremely shy mother feel about these unwarranted remarks?

i feel most people forget that these comments are still body conversations and those should never be initiated by a person other than the body owner.

i find it so odd that people think pregnancy is an automatic open door to make negative remarks about another human’s physique. i mean, i’ve never thought of walking up to a person in a wheel chair and saying “wow, really can’t use those legs, can you?” or a person with a large nose and saying “you’re nose is SO BIG. you must be so uncomfortable!”  and then i’d absolve myself of any wrong by adding a quick “it’s not rude of me to say that, right?”

i want to offer up some tools. i talk with pregnant women, a lot. A LOT. and i am a pregnant woman. i will tell you one thing that is always acceptable to say:  you look beautiful. let’s just stick with telling pregnant women they look beautiful. ok?

and maybe you don’t feel that way. maybe you don’t feel pregnant ladies are all glowy and radiant. that is fine! you don’t have to say anything at all. you don’t! we aren’t expecting it!

or here’s another idea if you’re wanting to initiate a pregnancy related conversation with an expectant mother: ask her how she’s feeling. it’s so refreshing when i receive that depth of communication from another human. you can just ask a woman how she’s feeling and let her tell you where she’s at with her body changes. we’re circling back to that body ownership thing again. let HER be the one to tell you she’s tired. let HER be the one to tell you she’s big. Let HER be the one to tell you she fears there may be another secret human in there. i think if we treated women with this kind of respect we’d all feel much more at ease with how organic these conversations can be.

maybe i’m a little sensitive to this because this experience seems parallel to other body conversations i’ve had to fend off for the better part of my life. part of the reason that i like my big belly is that something on my body finally dwarfs my enormous breasts that people seem to think are in the free realm of conversation. since i was 15 people have been making comments to me about my boobs. i’ve navigated that in many different ways at different phases of my life and now i’ve put a finger on this similarity between pregnancy and my breasts. strangers comment, women ask for permission to touch them in bathrooms, gay men don’t even ask for permission they just do it {sorry, just my personal experience} and i’ve had all variations from hetero men as well.

and i can’t rationalize that as much as the pregnancy talks. i know the common thread here is that women’s bodies seem to be part of the public sphere and not the private. and i can’t change that. but i feel that if our bodies are going to be part of the public conversation forum then i can do a small something to change it into POSITIVE communication instead of negative.

i will tell my pregnant friends they are beautiful. i will ask pregnant strangers how they are feeling. i will let other women tell me how THEY feel about THEIR bodies and i will listen with respect.

because that is what i feel mothers and women deserve.