I hoisted my 7-months pregnant self out of the Pontiac Grand Prix I had just parked in the last available parking space reserved for expectant or new mothers. I barely reached the rear fender of my car when I was horn-blasted by the picture-perfect pregnant couple cruising the parking lot in their black sedan, looking for a reserved space of their own. The father-to-be flipped me off and made an arc motion around his stomach indicating the space was for pregnant ladies. At a hair under 300 lbs, my shape did not resemble that of his beautiful, pregnant wife. I did not have the tell-tale basketball in the stomach. To them, I was just a fat lady taking the closest parking space to the store.
This was my second pregnancy- one that had been carefully planned, one that we had prayed for and endured multiple losses to reach. It was miraculous and wonderful. I wanted this pregnancy to be everything the first one was not. My first pregnancy was a big surprise and came when I was 17 years old. While I had the right body type at that time to be oohed and ahhed over, the most typical response from both family and strangers was what one would expect from a teen pregnancy. Eleven years after that first experience, I wanted this one to be celebrated. I wanted it to mirror those magical moments as seen in the world of film, and in so many ways it did. My husband and I were overjoyed when we passed that first trimester mark, and even more thrilled when we found out our new little one would be a girl. We excitedly told family and friends the due date; we cherished each kick and flip. We paid the extra money to get one of those amazing 4D ultrasounds. The results were framed and proudly displayed in the garden-themed nursery we had spent months designing. This pregnancy was a true celebration of the life that God had blessed us with, except when it came to outsiders.
The parking space incident wasn’t the first time I had gotten such a negative reaction to my pregnancy. I shared my pregnancy with a teacher that worked at the same school I did. Her baby boy was due two weeks after my due date. She ended up having him a week before Becca was due. (UGH!! Don’t you hate that?! How dare she cut ahead of me! LOL!) It was her first child, and she was one of those women that didn’t even look pregnant from behind. Her lovely, round belly was picture perfect. Every day during the afternoon dismissal, I watched as so many parents and other teachers lovingly oohed and ahhed over her belly. As she protruded a bit more each month, they would pat her flawless stomach and try to feel those small kicks. My vantage point for watching this wonderful celebration of new life was about 4 feet away. Even being within close proximity to the cute pregnant lady did not make my baby/my pregnancy worthy of being celebrated.
The Ob-Gyn office was also a constant reminder of my weight. Each visit, they took my blood pressure using one of those automatic cuffs. Each and every time, it would squeeze my arm until I resembled Violet Beauregard then release and start all over again – never being able to gauge an accurate response. After three or four rounds of this cruel torture, they would inevitably switch to a manual blood-pressure cuff. It wasn’t until I reached the point of bi-weekly visits that I flat out refused to let them do the automated BP machine. Most visits were littered with comments of surprise that my blood pressure was healthy. It was automatically assumed that my BP would be high. There was no way I could be overweight and healthy. Conversations centered around gestational diabetes and overweight babies instead of the routine questions about how I was feeling. I was told at the beginning of my pregnancy that I should not gain any weight at all. My shocking 10 pound weight gain by the end of my second trimester was enough to raise a red-flag and a conversation about healthy diet ensued. The reminders of my weight continued at the front desk where they flagrantly advertised their 3d-4d ultrasound services to every pregnant woman… except the fat ones. When I finally did find the courage to ask about the 3D ultrasound, I was warned several times that I would need to drink a whole lot of fluids so they could get a clear picture. After all, it would be hard to distinguish between my little bundle of joy and my little bundle of yesterday’s waffles.
When my body began to outgrow my already plus-size wardrobe, I had no alternative but to switch to maternity clothes. Mainstream stores disallow the possibility of a fat woman becoming pregnant, instead focusing their maternity lines only on those with picturesque pregnancies. So off I went to Motherhood Maternity, the mecca for maternity clothes. The location in Dallas is three maternity stores rolled into one, so surely I would be able to find some nice work clothes there. After arriving, I was quietly escorted to the very back, hidden corner of the store which housed two racks of plus-sized maternity clothing as well as one clearance rack. This store was huge, and yet all the room they allotted for plus-sized maternity clothes were these three measly racks relegated to the murky corners – out of eyesight of those with more beautiful bodies. I lucked out and was able to grab a couple of pairs of pants, but the majority of the shirts I wore ended up just being a bigger size shirt. God forbid I find a cute empire-waist dress that would show off my marshmallowy baby bump.
Speaking of showing off, I love those pregnancy photography pictures where the mother holds her hands in the shape of a heart in front of her glorious baby bump. Not getting pictures of myself while pregnant with each of my children is one of my biggest pregnancy regrets. I bought in to the hogwash that only pretty people can get pregnant photography photos. Nobody told me what a beautiful glow I had or how lovely my belly was, and I let that dictate how I felt about my pregnancy. I will never get the chance to show my kids how Momma looked when she was carrying them. Don’t make the same mistake.
In fact, don’t make any of the same mistakes I did. Don’t let others ignore your miracle while celebrating another. Your baby, your pregnancy is just as worthy of celebrating. Don’t let your doctor turn your pregnancy into a series of lectures, and don’t let mainstream stores dictate how cute your pregnancy wardrobe should be. Celebrate that little bundle of joy no matter what package Momma comes in. Your pregnancy is worth celebrating, and your pregnancy WILL BE beautiful, Momma!