Eighteen years ago I was expecting my first child, and I was over the moon with happiness. Over the first few months, I proudly told everyone who would listen, how far along I was, and how much weight I had gained so far. I was proud my baby was growing strong and wanted everyone to know. I was happy and pregnant.
This all came to an end one day, when I was about eight months along, and I was in to see my doctor for my check up. He weighed me, and as I sat down, said, “If you keep gaining weight like this, we will have to put you in the pasture with the rest of the cows.”
I remember thinking to myself, “What did he say?” As I walked away from his office that day, it was the first time I honestly gave any thought to my weight, and how I may be “fat”. I went through middle and high school an average weight, I thought, neither thin nor thick. Up until then, I didn’t pay attention to my weight.
It never dawned on me, that when a woman is pregnant and gains weight, that you can perhaps gain too much. I assumed, naïve or not, that a woman simply gained weight and then after the baby, lost weight.
The next month I tried not to gain any more weight. Obviously someone with a valuable opinion thought I should not have gained what I had already, so I was worried. I never told anyone what he said that day, because I was ashamed. Ashamed I had been so happy, that I never gave it any thought. “How could I be stupid?” I thought. If a doctor thought it was important enough to mention, it must be important.
The day I had my Jillian, I had gained forty pounds total, exactly.
Fast forward to fourteen years later. I am expecting again. This time, I am fitness instructor with training in nutrition and fitness under my belt. I am prepared for my body to change, and again, weight is not an issue. I know that when you’re pregnant it is healthy and normal to gain weight and stressing about it, can cause undue stress.
What I was not prepared for was the difference in society. Apparently the kind of comment from my doctor had become the new “normal”. On a weekly basis I would come home and tell my husband the comments people would make to me, and a common respond at my house became, “What is wrong with people?”
I had someone put a hand on my belly, and say, “You sure are getting big aren’t you?” I remember hearing, “Wow, how much weight did you gain so far?”
Where I worked, had pizza one day, so I went down and bought a slice. One slice. As I came back to the staff room, a co worker laughed and said, “I can hardly wait to see you after that baby, you are going to be as big as a house.” I was stunned.
People I barely knew would tell me, “You know, you’re only supposed to gain about twenty pounds.” I would smile and rub my belly. My baby bump would always give me the strength I needed not to be angry at their rudeness.
A friend of mine the other day mentioned that someone had asked her, “How much weight to plan on gaining!” and someone else, “Wow, you are huge!” I told her that saying such things, sadly, seemed to be becoming the norm. She confided that it was getting difficult to hear, and that she was starting to feel bad about her body. That is what prompted my article. In my years of fitness, it never occurred to me that weight could be linked negatively to such a beautiful time in a woman’s life.
Yes, there is healthy weight gain for expectant mothers, and that is something for her and her doctor to worry about. There is no need for you to comment on it. Women go to their doctors, they get weighed, they research pregnancies, we know.
Women don’t need to know you wore the same jeans you wore before you were pregnant, home from the hospital. We don’t need to know that maybe your “fat” jeans may fit us now. Please, think about what you say, before you say it.
It has been twenty years and I can still close my eyes and picture that doctor’s office. His casual comment was like a slap that awoke me from a happy dream. He made the happiest time of my life, about my weight…and made me cry myself to sleep that night.
Weight is not as important as people think, especially for the precious few months that we, as women, carry and ultimately, bring new life into this world. Be kind.
Tagline: Kelli Cruikshank is a working resident of Scotsburn who balances being a fitness enthusiast, a mother of three girls and a wife. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org