Monday, October 12, 2015

On Being Fat and Pregnant

In case you haven't heard - and maybe you haven't - we're having another child. Our fourth baby is due in April of 2016, and this will be our last child. After E was born I was hesitant to consider being done having children, but I've come to peace with it now and I'm fully ready and prepared, I think, to say "no more". We'll be taking appropriate permanent sterilization measures after the new one arrives, and our family - at least that of genetically related children - will be complete.

However, in the times that I've been pregnant, I've become increasingly aware of exactly what it means to be fat and pregnant.

Sound funny? I mean, pregnant is just.. Pregnant, right? There are "plus size" maternity clothes and bras, and all sorts of other things. There are baby carriers for larger people. And maternity clothes are already made for people who are expanding - so it seems unreasonable, at least in this one aspect of life, to start complaining about how fat people are supposedly treated differently. To a degree, of course, you're right - the problem is that the "really big" women are kind of ignored when it comes to this section of life.

That's right: once you hit about size 28/30, you might as well never tell anybody you're having a child, because there is nothing out there to accommodate you. Maternity clothes stop being something you can look forward to and start being something you can abhor, because you aren't going to find any. Your options consist of sweat pants and stretch pants that are often unflattering and made of uncomfortable materials like 100% polyester, that refuse to breathe and leave an already hormonally challenged woman sweating balls. You can buy progressively larger t-shirts, or sink money into abysmally unflattering "big shirts" touted by companies as being pretty much the last bastion in fashion for women who have made the horrible decision to exceed size 28. You make every effort to wear your jeans until the last possible second, even forcing them into uncomfortable positions on your hips and expanding abdomen because you know that the day you give them up is the last day you'll wear them while pregnant - and of course, who knows how long you'll go without them after you've welcomed your new bundle of joy, too, because not every woman loses weight afterwards at the same rate. Underwear stops being something you can buy in "box" stores (think Wal-Mart) and starts being something you have to carefully pursue online, with the knowledge that you're lucky enough to not only be incubating another human being, but to be forced to only buy underthings from stores online that specifically cater to "large" women, that also happen to have confusing and impossible-to-navigate return policies that basically don't allow you to even turn try them on before giving them back.

And nursing bras? Forget it. Sure, options exist - but they're almost always priced so high that if you can afford one, you're lucky. Even then, they're typically badly fit, and even then sizes only go so high - and you find yourself desperately looking up tutorials on YouTube to try to convert a preexisting bra (that you sank good money into) into a nursing bra that might suffice, only to give up when you realize the time and effort necessary to possibly destroy an expensive piece of clothing isn't worth it.

Think it can't get worse?

Consider the adoring looks and knowing smiles and nods that obviously pregnant women get. Sure, you're never supposed to assume a woman is pregnant and ask those invasive questions, but even when you don't say anything, people still kind of know. You get that LOOK, that shows that people respect that you're probably tired and looking forward to getting it over and done with, but are happy that you have the chance to be in the position you're in. Once you get to my size, you never get to look pregnant. My body type - the B belly as it's called - means that I never really look like I'm going to have a child, but instead just look progressively larger and larger. I don't get a break, nobody offering me seats or doing all that invasive belly rubbing and asking when I'm due. I'd probably hate it if it did happen, but I wouldn't know - because it hasn't. Nobody has ever mistaken me for a pregnant woman, not even up to the day before I had any of my kids. The only thing I've ever been "lucky" enough to get is a bunch of disapproving, assuming looks from people who don't know if I'm pregnant or not and don't care to find out. They'd rather assume that I'm some huge creep who would rather spend her life living off a bed, eating continually. Because obviously that's all fat people do, anyway.

So, yeah. Being fat and pregnant really, really bites. Because when you're fat and pregnant, you might as well have found a brand new way to stop existing in the eyes of society.

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