baby proof: your beautiful belly.

May 20, 2014

bellyAlternate title: Shit people say to pregnant women.

Public commentary on my rapidly expanding pregnant belly has reached an all time high. As a woman who has been petite my entire life, commentary on my body by strangers is something that I’ve become used to, for better or for worse. While I spent a significant portion of my teenage years building up an arsenal of mostly unspoken witticisms to combat the rudeness, in my adulthood I do my best to take the unsolicited commentary in stride. I try to remember that people are generally well-intentioned and that even when they sound like accusations that they’re generally aiming at delivering complements. I gracefully skirt questions about my secret and my diet and the particular phenotypes of my mother and sisters and anyone else who might have breathed her mystical ectomorphic genes onto me. I realize that this falls firmly into skinny people problems, but suffice to say that our cultural preoccupation with weight and beauty has insidious effects on the naturally thin, too.

Enter pregnancy; a moment when your body and its shape seems to be understood as a fair subject for public debate and opinion, regardless of your size. Or so thinks every third person I pass on the street. I’m trying not to be utterly humorless about the whole ordeal—gotta keep those good endorphins flowing for bébé, etc.—but I admit that the whole thing can be a bit tiring.

Because I can’t stand on the street corner all day proselytizing about shit people shouldn’t say to a woman carrying the weight of another human being inside of her, here are my top five du jour:

1. A bump is a thing that happens to you. By accident. Or mysteriously. Usually painfully. A bump is red and itchy or else blue and tender. This is my belly, not my bump, and there’s a growing baby inside of it.

2: Whether the pregnancy at hand is a woman’s first, second, third, successful or otherwise pregnancy is not anyone’s business. If someone doesn’t already know the answer to this question, they’re not close enough to the woman in question to be asking it. (Ditto to questions about whether someone “tried” for a long time and if the pregnancy was planned.) I mean, hello?

3. Consider mammalian anatomy and physiology. Female mammals do not pop. They labor. They do hard work to push a tiny being out of a tinier orifice that is made expressly for the purpose. No, I am not about to pop, kind sir on the 3 train. But I would love to sit down.

4. The sex of my child is unknown; to me and to everyone else. Doesn’t matter what your great aunt Gertrude says about the fact that my face has “pudged up” or whether “it looks like I’ve got a basketball under my shirt.”

5. If I am kind enough to indulge questions about when my baby is (likely) set to make his or her début, this doesn’t mean I’m also welcoming comments about whether I look comparatively large or small. Women’s bodies grow and change at entirely different rates and in unpredictable ways. I’d rather not feel like you’re scrutinizing mine (or anyone else’s). Mkay?

I am woman, hear me roar. End scene.

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  • Reply Caroline | Wild Folk Studio May 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    love this post oh so much!

  • Reply Karen - Quilts...etc. May 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I can't believe the comments I hear about pregnancy now – keep roaring!

  • Reply weezaleez May 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Oh (wo)man, you are great. This is excellent. I do want to add the caveat that it's horribly frustrating that people (still) feel the need to comment and pry, and I'm guilty of assuming best intentions even in the most ridiculous of questions instead of roaring as I should be, but your responses and the reminder that obsession with weight and beauty poisons EVERYONE will be carried with me throughout the day.

  • Reply Alexa May 20, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    gorgeous photo. and keep on roaring, lady!

  • Reply Alexa May 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    So true! Everyone has an opinion to share. I also dealt with the 'but you are so small' issue, as if there is only one size that a pregnant woman comes in. If you don't mind, I'd love to share a post I wrote in regard to your number 2. I was in a committed relationship but unmarried at the time I found out I was pregnant, and unfortunately, got an incredible amount of awkward comments and questions which really diminished the excitement of our announcement:
    Sounds like you are taking it all in stride. The photo is beautiful!

  • Reply DontBlameTheKids May 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I had the same problem, and it drove me nuts. I am only 5'3". Of course I didn't get very big! The worst comments were from other women who told me I was starving the baby. My doctor said otherwise, thank you very much.

  • Reply chris May 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    great post!

  • Reply Sweet Love and Ginger May 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    haha! Wonderful post. I cannot relate to the pregnancy talk, having never been so myself, but being naturally thin I can most definitely relate to the opening. I loved it!

  • Reply oliviajamie May 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    So sweet, Erin. Gracefully said!

  • Reply Jay May 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    As a fellow petite woman who has always dealt with rude comments and insinuations my entire life, I fully endorse this post. Just because we're small doesn't mean we don't have any feelings!

  • Reply Razmataz May 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I think "bump" sounds quite neutral and polite. I've engaged in many conversations with random pregnant women and often ask if this is a first baby or not. In my experience women LOVE to talk about their pregnancy, especially the first and often keep chatting away beyond my initial question. Being pregnant is special and people are genuinely excited and happy for you…their questions are to engage you and show their interest. I always end my conversations with an honest positive observation or comment such as….your'e absolutely glowing, or how exciting to be having a fourth…it's life and I try not to have to watch the words that come naturally to me.

    • Reply Erin May 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      I think engaging women in conversation that they're happy to be a part of is a lovely thing to do—but I also think people should be sensitive. It's difficult to know whether a woman has experienced a painful miscarriage, or the loss of a child, for instance. I prefer the route of allowing the pregnant woman to take the lead and tell her own story. As for the bump, it's not a word I like myself, but I understand that it's well-intentioned! Thanks for writing.

    • Reply My Little Bungalow May 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      I tend to agree with Razmataz. Certainly there are rude questions and comments, I'm sure (I've never been pregnant, so I don't know this first-hand), but I would venture to guess that most of the time people who start a conversation with a woman who is expecting are genuinely happy for her and interested in her experience.

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Yes, agreed. Of course they are! But I think it's still wise to exercise sensitivity when making comments about someone else's body and pregnancy.

    • Reply Anonymous June 15, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Totally agree with Razmataz. I frequently ask strangers or acquaintances if it's their first or if they know the sex. I even might ask if they've got a name yet. I never considered these questions too personal or intrusive, just interested and friendly. This may also be cultural you know. I was raised in America but I have immigrant parents and I currently live in Spain so I never thought this way. I'm thin too but when I was pregnant, I loved people telling me how big my bump was. It's the one and only time in my life that would be a compliment.

  • Reply Mary Schaubert May 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Hearrrrrrrd that! I got a lot of "you still don't really look pregnant" comments up until like months 7, at which point I was predisposed to just think "oh, so do I just look really fat?" And then I realized that it was none of their business to comment on how pregnant I looked at all!! For the most part though, I think people are just made really happy about the idea of any impending babies and all commentary has been with the best of intentions. Still, people should choose their words more carefully!

  • Reply Emily May 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    "pop" – i *HATE* it! Still remember ex-boyfriend who used such lingo, and the weeks of hair-pulling the ensued when I tried to make him stop, for the sake of All Women Everywhere (didn't work. hence, "ex").

  • Reply Lydia DeWolf May 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Can I just say all of these baby proof posts are fabulous. This is hilarious and actually one of my fears when I someday have a baby…cause I already hate people making any comments about how I look. And honestly, as a synesthete with a weird relationship to letters and sounds, the words "belly" and "pop" are kind of traumatic to hear for me. Weird, huh? Anyways, I love your sass. Keep it up!

  • Reply Anonymous May 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for posting this. When I was pregnant I was bombarded with strangers, friends, and family telling me I was "too big" or how "huuuuge" I looked for x many months. It made me feel so horrible about myself I dreaded leaving the house because I knew I would have to deal with non-stop rudeness. Knowing that people were well-meaning didn't make me feel any better, either.

    People just don't understand it is never okay to comment on a women's body, no matter the intention. Our bodies are not public property! I'm proud I used this body of mine to grow and nourish my child, let's leave it at that people.

  • Reply Amy May 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you!. I'm 30 weeks pregnant and just so thankful for the fact that you have articulated what I am thinking/feeling.

  • Reply Rebecca May 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Erin, I've never been pregnant but I agree with everything you said, and good words are always good to read! That's a beautiful picture of your beautiful belly.

  • Reply Julie May 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I feel for you! Unfortunately I found it got worse after the baby…people would ask me about breastfeeding all the time. So frustrating. When did it become acceptable to ask a stranger about their nursing habits?!

  • Reply Daniella C May 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Oh how I love this post Erin. I can relate, even not being pregnant. Being petite myself, I've heard it all… so many comments on how i'm "skinny" (i'm not, i'm completely average for my height of 5ft 1), or how I look so young/tiny/short/cute. Yes, most people are well-intentioned, but it becomes an annoyance when random strangers are constantly commenting on your body. It's so awkward! I mean what do you even say back to things like that? I don't think anyone would dare to think it ok to comment on someone who might be overweight, right? So why is the opposite deemed "normal"? I think people are just so accustomed to saying whatever they want now they don't stop to think first.

    Hopefully you've had lots of other lovely conservation about your pregnancy to cancel out the rest! lol. Wishing you well!

  • Reply Alison May 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Not to mention the people who ask me why I am not pregnant, and that "the clock is ticking." Perhaps it is because I can't have children, or that my husband and I have chosen not to have children (it's the latter, with people decrying us as selfish and child haters). Enough.

    • Reply My Little Bungalow May 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Ditto. I have not had many strangers or acquaintances ask me if I have children, but sometimes out of the blue some woman will ask me that question. When I reply that I do not (without divulging why), I usually get a sympathetic "Oh you still have time" (no, actually I don't, which is fine) or awkward silence. One woman actually asked me "Why not?" Amazing.

    • Reply Alison May 20, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      I have lost friends over our decision not to have children. It's very sad. I am happy for those who decide to have children and celebrate with them, but it is just not my choice. I wish people could respect that, even if they don't understand or agree with our decision.

    • Reply Alison May 20, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      I feel for Erin, because whether you are pregnant or not, women of a certain age often have to listen to comments made about their bodies, their marriages, and their fertility. Men, by and large, do not have to answer (or feel that thry have to answer) such personal, probing questions.

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Agreed: the whole gamut of commentary about women's decisions—or circumstances out of their control that make those decisions for them—about reproduction should be handled delicately.

  • Reply jsdill May 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    My goodness, I think you are being a bit sensitive. I am about your size and have been pregnant three times, so all the things you mention are conversations I have had many times. However, I assume people mean well and are just trying to make conversation. Babies are exciting! So they don't get it exactly as you would like: people have different assumptions about what is appropriate content for conversations with strangers. The only thing that I really resented when I was pregnant was when once or twice someone suggested I looked huge when I had a couple of months to go. I draw the line there!

  • Reply meh May 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Yes. I agree with jsdill. This reads as a bit sensitive or trivially judgmental.

    I'm currently 32 weeks pregnant and have come to delight in other people's delight for me.
    Of course sometimes they may not say the perfect thing or they might not phrase it precisely "the right" way but it generally comes from a good place – happiness and a desire to share somehow in my joy and excitement. That's what I tend to take away from these encounters anyway and I find myself constantly surprised and touched by the sweetness I've encountered.

    • Reply Erin May 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Ah, but then, sensitivity is precisely what this is all about! I'm delighted to have conversations about my pregnancy, which of course, is why I write about it here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Reply meh May 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Yes of course. Maybe next time you feel frustrated you can focus on the intent of the words rather than the specific phrasing. I would hate for you to be missing out on all of the joy that's around you because of these little things.

    • Reply Erin May 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Indeed. Always do. But I think that commentary about women's bodies is still something that's worth handling sensitively.

    • Reply meh May 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      I agree. I do think though that it is wise for women to develop a bit of a thicker skin about these sorts of things. It makes us stronger and more resilient. There are more important things in life for us to be worried about than silly comments from well intentioned strangers.

    • Reply stigmaoflot26 May 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      But I think the idea here is that women shouldn't HAVE to develop a thicker skin. And while it's easier to brush off these strangers' comments on her body as "well-intentioned," it's a little dangerous to do so in that it can lead to brushing off other comments as well. After all, does that mean that the person cat-calling and whistling at me is "well-intentionally" telling me I'm beautiful?

      If it feels like an invasion to Erin, then it is one. Let's not invalidate someone's feelings.

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Thanks for your note. This is precisely my point.

  • Reply Astrid May 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    O Erin, I do NOT think at all that you are just being too sensitive. I think you are completely right, and I'm so happy you are writing about it. For me (and maybe for you too) it has more to do with the fact that people assume that when you are pregnant you suddenly become public property, or something like that. They quite simply invade your personal space on a daily basis, while sometimes you are (quite rightly and understandably) just not up for that. The fact that people mean well does not make that less annoying. In the end, you have every right to not want to engage in yet another story about your pregnancy; to you, you are still the same person, so I understand that it can be so annoying that people keep focusing on that one (albeit gorgeous etc. 🙂 aspect of you. And that guy with his 'pop' remark: may he be a tampon in his next life. xo

  • Reply Suzan Katzir May 20, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I was The World's Biggest Pregnant Woman. Really, truly. We were living in the deep south and 3 times during Thanksgiving week, when I was only 5 mos along, little old ladies stopped me in the street and commented, "Oh sugar! Your twins are due soon, aren't they?!" Uh … no. Only 1 baby, thank you. And he was a month post-mature.

  • Reply Dylann Stubblefield May 20, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Ah, I know exactly how you feel. Those comments/suggestions from strangers tire me out too. I am 41 weeks pregnant so you can imagine how many people ask me every single day, "so your baby isn't here yet?". And I so desperately want to say, "obviously."

    • Reply holtkamp May 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      that made me laugh that people actually said that! best wishes!

  • Reply Erika May 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    At the risk of sounding like one of those sanctimonious, know-it-all types I am about to warn you of, I believe you will find that this is only the beginning. Well-intentioned and annoying (they are not mutually exclusive, right?) there's just something about parenthood that makes people need to connect on a level different than they would before. I'm sure I've done it without even realizing it. You'll get unsolicited comments/questions/advice/judgements/what-have-you about everything from circumcision to red-shirting. You'll find your way – but not before some gut-wrenching agony over what seem to be the littlest decisions. I think it build character, and makes us better parents. Stay true to who you are and build yourself a little arseny of polite 'deflectors'. Example: A universally approved response to the inevitable stink-eye-rolling-airplane-passenger has always been to offer them a drink on the house. 🙂

  • Reply Melissa May 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Having been pregnant myself, I wouldn't classify any of your points as "shit people shouldn't say to a pregnant woman". None of the comments you mention are belittling or rude. Calling your belly a "bump" is not a nasty or condescending comment. Your commentary on these things however does come across condescending. There are a lot of worse things that people could say to you.

    • Reply Chelsea May 21, 2014 at 12:08 am

      I'm left wondering what I'm "meant" to say.. Can someone actually help me out?

    • Reply dina May 21, 2014 at 1:21 am

      Perhaps a follow up post on what people are allowed to say/ask?

      I'm a pretty private person, but I was so stoked to be pregnant, it trumped everything else. There wasn't much anyone could say to rattle me. Perspective.

    • Reply Willy The Prince May 21, 2014 at 2:05 am

      Agree. As a mother of two, these comments don't seem intrusive at all. The real INTRUSIVE or mean/passive aggressive comments come during the raising years…."you gave your kid X (gum, candy, kale), followed by a look of horror." OR "Well in our home we don't XXX" Time to get a thicker skin, BK parents are very opinionated.

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Hi there: I think it stands to reason that everyone's experience and interpretation of public commentary on their bodies will be different. This post is about commentary by strangers; not conversations about my pregnancy with excited friends and family and coworkers. I'm super happy to indulge; and often talk at length about my pregnancy. My not wanting strangers on the street to assess whether or not my belly is an appropriate size for the number of weeks pregnant that I am, or my particular distaste for the word "bump," or my fatigue at being told that I "must be having a boy" has no bearing on my enthusiasm about my pregnancy. I don't think that people who make these comments are bad people, but I think there's a need for sensitivity. Friendly smiles and gestures of goodwill like holding open doors and allowing a pregnant woman to cut in line, and giving up subway seats, and offering congratulations? In my ideal world, this is the role that strangers would play in my pregnancy. Asking me whether my pregnancy was planned is not.

  • Reply Erika May 20, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    like I said – only the beginning. 🙂

  • Reply Anna // Gone Banannas May 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I know this wasn't the point of the post, but I got very caught up in the skinny people problems because I can 100% relate. I think people have a harder time sympathizing with those who are very thin and in fact pick up them quite a bit, especially when they are younger. My name is Anna and I heard more than once from some not so nice adolescents that I was Anna-rexic because I was so thin which is sooooooooo not cool. On another note, I tend to not comment on anyone's pregnancy unless they are someone I know well enough to know they are actually pregnant because I terribly afraid of offending someone who might not actually be pregnant. Can you imagine!? I am not sure if this is really only something that happens in sitcoms, but I am going to avoid it anyway 🙂

  • Reply Anna May 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I got a few of the "pregnant or fat" looks, because my daughter was so small that my stomach was smaller than that of many pregnant women, but that also fended off a lot of comments and questions from strangers. It's gotten more problematic now, honestly, because the stupid things people say to pregnant women just get worse when they're saying stupid things about your child. People try to touch her, and get offended when I tell them to keep their hands off. Or, because she's small for her age, they tell me she looks like a doll, which makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    I was pretty sensitive about comments while I was pregnant because I was miserable. When someone told me that I looked good, I didn't believe them, because I felt like crap. Pregnancy is exhausting and even well-intentioned questions and comments can be too much at times.

  • Reply holtkamp May 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    ha, ha, i love this! one thing i wished people didn't say to me was how huge i looked. like as if i already didn't know! 😉

  • Reply MrsVlcek May 20, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    This picture is beautiful! What a great, authentic post. I am not pregnant just yet, but have grown up one of the skinny girls you spoke about. It is indeed just as damaging to have someone talk about how "tiny" you are over and over as it is to talk about someone being overweight. What's it to ya if I'm one size or another? Thanks for posting…love your blog.

  • Reply Melanie Yarbrough May 21, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Beautifully said.

  • Reply infusionfibers May 21, 2014 at 12:44 am

    RAR. You are so great with words. Beautiful photo of beautiful you.

  • Reply The Collector May 21, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Ha! People are so funny… they can't help but be curious and talk about what they are observing.

  • Reply Kate May 21, 2014 at 1:38 am


  • Reply rharkrider May 21, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Ditto Erin!

    A stranger/friend/family/whoever's intention doesn't matter. There's a simple rule to follow: don't talk about a person's body. That's it.

    • Reply Anonymous May 21, 2014 at 3:34 am

      I must adamantly disagree. People can say incredibly mindless statements to pregnant women, much of which is inexcusable. But someone saying a woman's "bump" is cute or sweet or what have you is not a bad person (I would only say this if the woman herself has said she is pregnant. Never assume!).

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Hey there: Just wanted to clarify that I certainly don't think people who use the word bump do so with any intention other than enthusiastic interest, excitement, and often, genuine love! Of course they're not bad people! It's a word that I happen to think doesn't quite capture the spirit and beauty of a pregnancy, but my intention (and what I wrote) was not intended to suggest that the word is used maliciously.

  • Reply tiffhusbandit May 21, 2014 at 2:47 am

    I love it! I have never been pregnant, but I have always been a very private person. The things people say to pregnant women combine "the icks" and a long eye roll for myself. But as someone who has never been pregnant, what would you consider acceptable things for people to say? Or something that you would appreciate hearing?

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Congratulations is always a lovely and heartfelt thing to hear from strangers! Smiles and people giving up their seats on the subway, even better!

  • Reply emi May 21, 2014 at 3:26 am

    haha all so great — i can see having all of these feelings when i'm pregnant one day! Xo

    the well-traveled wife ♥

  • Reply Anonymous May 21, 2014 at 3:49 am

    With my first baby, I didn't start showing until I was 7 months along, and then my belly got big fast and I got stretch marks because of it. sigh. Anyway, I remember people constantly commenting about my appearance, mostly that I was so small which I didn't mind so much, and then the tables turned. I think I was 36 or 37 weeks when I went to visit my grandmother, and she remarked on how much weight I had gained since I had seen her only a few weeks before. 11 pounds if my memory serves me. Oh good. I do think now that I have had three children I have become slightly less sensitive to what people say. I feel much more empowered about my body and myself as a woman and a mother now that I have done it all a few times around, and been able to experience something that I always dreamed of, natural childbirth. So I let silly comments go more now, but I too am not immune. I definitely have Kathleen Kelly's personality in You've Got Mail. In other words, I fester.

    P.S. I don't know about you, but what bothered me more than anything was when people, complete strangers no less would come up and rub my belly. Hands off people! Of course then you have your baby and those same people want to touch your precious, perfect baby, with their germy hands, and then you just lose it. Hello mama bear!

    You look beautiful! Excited for you and your husband! Blessings.

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Oh, dear. It can be a tricky road to navigate! And I think women can feel empowered about their bodies without also needing to develop thick skins about the rude an inappropriate remarks made by strangers! Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words.

  • Reply cherre henderson May 21, 2014 at 3:58 am

    What a beautiful photo of your pregnant self. I have to say amen sister to your comments. People can be so intrusive with their questions and comments. Common sense is anything but common. You should make flyers of your comments above and leave one behind everywhere you go. 😉

  • Reply Anonymous May 21, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Love the use at the end of Helen Reddy's "I am Woman. Hear me roar" Yes you are wise but its wisdom more than pain!!! love your blog, thank you for sharing x

  • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks so much for all of the kind notes left here! I love seeing this space filled with notes from thoughtful, engaged women. xoxo.

  • Reply Sol May 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    This was so funny to read, and also the comments are so interesting. I haven't been pregnant myself but my sister has been twice and would always complain about comments from strangers about her pregnancy, the size of her belly, her age… Many, many times those comments did way more harm than good.

    Thank you for being so honest. There are so many things that don't get talked about enough.

  • Reply Pat May 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I've never been pregnant so can't "truly" relate other than I do know how tiresome it can be to have a zillion people asking the same questions or making the same comments about something – especially if it is none of their concern to begin with. It just gets old. And your first point DID hit home with me. A term I'd love to see dropped forever from our vocabulary is "baby bump" … ugggh!

  • Reply laurab May 21, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    How very strange that you're asking folks to think of what you want to hear versus what they want to say…

    massive eye-roll.

  • Reply samadhya May 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    This is amazing. I'm forwarding this post to all my expecting friends right now!

  • Reply Anonymous May 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    This list seems very trite and ungrateful. It's not the worst thing in the world for people (strangers, even!) to be excited about your pregnancy. Heaven forbid! Or worse, to use the words "bump" or "pop." First world problems, right there. I can't believe the minuscule things you're complaining about. Take a moment and talk to someone who's been infertile for many years, and then revisit this list. Be grateful.

    • Reply Erin May 21, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Sorry that you feel that way. Your assumption that I haven't talked to women who have experienced (or experienced myself!) infertility is precisely the reason why I think there's a cause for sensitivity around women's bodies and reproductive experiences. My desire for my pregnancy and my body not to be the subject of public commentary is not a reflection of my gratitude.

  • Reply Fey May 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I remember a pregnant friend who got offended when people carried her stuff or opened the door for her… she didn't want to be treated like a disabled person. 🙂
    When I was pregnant though, nothing annoyed me more than when I was acting strangely and people say, "oh, it's the hormones!" Also people touching my belly, I didn't like that at all.
    Fast forward five years and so much more unsolicited comments about raising your own child gets thrown around. I am less sensitive now fortunately.

  • Reply Anonymous May 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I do hope, if these comments bother you so, that you are taking the time to mention to folks who offend the way that you'd prefer that you talk about (or not talk about) your pregnancy. This could be done politely (in my experience, pregnant women can get away with almost anything).
    That's the way to help people to understand your frustration. Perhaps you're doing this already? I hope so, given that you seem to feel so strongly about it.

    Otherwise, running home and complaining about it on your blog just sounds like whining, not "roaring".

  • Reply Nina May 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm


    Erin, I 100% agree with your sentiments because I experienced the same thing when I was pregnant. And it got really tiring. I realized pretty quickly that most of the people making comments were just trying to "live vicariously" through me and my uterus, (ha!) and now I fear that some day I'll be just like them– pregnancy in others is nostalgia-inducing to the extreme. 🙂

    But what I really wanted to say is this: Even though you address it (bravo!) I would venture to guess that the people making comments on this post that are less than polite are doing so because it's culturally uncomfortable for people to think that thin people aren't "enjoying" public consumption of their body.

    If this post had been written by an overweight woman, I doubt the comments would be the same. Our obsession/fantasy with "thinness" (and the misguided belief that all thin people are happy and excited about public consumption of their figure) is maybe what's happening here.

    Just my two cents. Wishing you lots of rest, foot rubs and cool weather. 😉

  • Reply Kate May 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    You raise some good points here. I think our obsession with talking about women's bodies, especially during/after pregnancy, has gotten so out of hand. Recently my dad commented about a celebrity who had "gotten her body back"…I mean, *my dad*!
    Generally, I wait for the expectant mother to bring it up, limit my comments to "you look great!" — because they do, every single time, never will your body be more *engaged* — and "how are you feeling?" which is open to almost any type of response, to lots of detail or none at all.

  • Reply Savanah May 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    sorry for the long comment… which I have to break into two, because it's not allowing me to post as one…

    I'm struggling with this post. First of all, I love your blog… have been reading for a while. This is the first time I have commented, because yours is one of those blogs that I never know what to say on… it's just so perfect and serene, I feel like if I add any words to it, I couldn't possibly add to that serenity… but rather, I'd just be taking away from it. So instead, I merely read and soak in the beauty.

    On that note, what a beautiful photo of your pregnant self. It is very much like all your posts… a little peek and window into what seems like a simple, gentle and appreciative life. That said, your writing here today seems to not go with this photo or the blogger I have come to "know" here. In this post, you are publicly, though carefully, showing your pregnant body, yet, in the comment above, you state "My desire for my pregnancy and my body not to be the subject of public commentary…" It seems contradictory to me. It seems as though this very post is inviting your pregnancy and body to be the subject of public commentary.

    I do understand what you are saying. I think people sometimes don't choose their words carefully or neglect to think before saying something. But like many others have written here, I always took that with a grain of salt during my pregnancies, because I never felt anything was ill-intended. I am an open book, and I loved to talk about my pregnancy with strangers and loved that they showed interest. It took me years to get pregnant. Even on my second pregnancy when I knew I was going to lose that child after birth due to the fatal diagnosis my baby was given, I still loved for people to ask questions.

    I use the word "bump" all the time. Yes, it has become novel and is not a great term to describe something as beautiful as a woman's pregnant body. But it seems strange to me that you would get hung up on that word and in the same post, use the word "shit" to describe what people are saying. I would think people find that word more unnecessary than the word bump, and I'm surprised that one who finds the word "bump" or "pop" distasteful would use the word "shit" in the same post that states so… especially next to such a beautiful, soft and glowing image of your body. I guess what I mean is, see how easy it was for you to do that?… put those together? Well, it's just as easy and unintended when someone injects a word like bump or pop into a statement that is meant to let you know they think pregnancy is a beautiful thing. If they didn't think so, they would just pass on by. I'm actually quite tired of a world where we can't say anything anymore… every term is becoming politically incorrect to a point of ridiculousness.

  • Reply Savanah May 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    So I get uneasy when I read something like this. (By the way, I always assumed that when someone said "you're about to pop", it meant that my belly was going to get much bigger like it does for many at the very end… where your belly sort of "pops" out, perhaps because the baby drops. I never took it to mean pop as in the baby popping out or coming out. I didn't see it as offensive in that light, but I guess I see why it annoys you in the way you take the meaning.) Yes… I would prefer if someone said to me, "You are glowing." over something like what you mention above. But there are SO many different kind of people in this world, and thus, ways of saying things. Definitely, there are lines that shouldn't be crossed. But I just don't see how any of what you mentioned crossed lines. If you have lines drawn that closely to your ideal, it might be a good idea to not go out in public.

    I am a super-sensitive person with very thin skin. So, if I am finding this to be too sensitive, it definitely makes me think twice about it. Of course, I think you are entitled to your opinion of what you think is the wrong or right thing to say. But I just am having difficulty with the negative way you approached it. When I was grieving the loss of my child, many people didn't know what to say to me. I later came to find out that some were so afraid of saying the wrong thing, they said nothing at all. In all that time, out of the hundreds of people who offered me words, only one said something even remotely offensive/hurtful/insensitive. It hurts to know that some people were silent because they were afraid they would say the wrong thing when I have a lot more faith in people saying something well-intended, even if not perfectly worded. But I think we live in a day where people have been trained to not say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing, and I wonder if it's because of expressions like yours here today. I think a better post would have been to share the appropriate things people HAVE been saying to you and why you are grateful for them… maybe even including the same things being said, but in the wrong way, and "teaching" people how they might want to say it better… or teaching them the more thoughtful approach to getting the same message across.

    I get hung up on the negative tone of your post. It seems you want people to say the right thing (or nothing at all) after they have unintentionally said the wrong thing, but you intentionally wrote this from a negative perspective instead of a positive, helpful, instructive one… and that is not like the posts I have become accustomed to here. However, you are pregnant, and I remember not being my old self during those days… being very sensitive and easily offended. So, I've decided to not write this post off entirely, realizing that it comes from an honest place (far better to be honest than fake), and then share my honest reaction in return. What others have said… that this is just the beginning… it's so true! So I encourage you to actually start embracing this… or at the very least, accept it with a gracious smile.

    Still LOVE your blog. From one mama to another, I wish you the very best on your first birth and motherhood in general.

    • Reply Anonymous August 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Amazing comment, very thoughtfully composed!

  • Reply claudie May 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    so true! unfortunately the comments won"t stop at the birth, children and their parents are also very often commented. My baby cried in shops, "oh he is hungry' WTF,
    I got once a jewelery shop owner who told me that my babycarrier was not practical, hello????
    A friend of mine who was working in a shop saw a woman enter just to touch her belly, as it should bring luck.
    The problem is that it seems, that for some / many people everything around babies is kind of public, like for the good of children is you see something that you think this person should/ shouldn't do you have to say something. People give you pieces of advices that they wouldn't normally. In French we would say, ils se melent de ce qui ne les regardent pas. C'est assez étrange les réactions des gens face à une personne enceinte, c'est comme si la personne ne peut plus jouir de son propre corps à sa guise mais comme elle est en train de contribuer à la préservation de l'espece c'est l'affaire de tous. Désolé c'est plus facile en français, j'espere que tu comptrendras. Bon courage pour la fin de ta grossesse et profite bien de chaque moment, avant et après l'arrivée de bébé. Claudie from France

  • Reply dervla @ the curator May 22, 2014 at 4:13 am

    yes yes yes yes!!! Can't wait to hear what you say when old ladies stop you on the street and tell you to put "some socks on that poor child"! Way to go, Erin!!

  • Reply Anonymous May 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    How interesting it is to read these responses! I agree with those who say the comments don't stop. And certainly they can become annoying particularly when people speculate or you hear the same things day after day: "You're definitely having a boy" (I did), "You look so small/big," "That's a tiny/big baby," "Why don't you try this, it worked for us," etc. Realizing this sort of commentary will not stop, I am endeavoring to savor the interest of strangers in my life and let them in a bit. If the old lady from the projects across the street wants me to stop so she can see the baby in the carriage, I will. It brings her joy. She's my neighbor. Living in a city full of strangers where everyone walks past each other without eye contact, it can be fun to have something to share with others, to talk about even briefly. If that thing is my pregnancy or baby, then so be it. I'm happy to listen and share the delight that this pregnancy and baby have brought me. And while I don't as often have the courage to initiate, if someone else does I'm learning to give back.

  • Reply Becca - Rebecca Atwood Designs May 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Oh man….I must say this is something I dread. I actually already get it from a relative who will remain nameless speculating on if I am in fact pregnant depending on what I'm wearing, if I'm bloated, etc.

    I must say some of the comments seem a bit harsh here and I don't think that's what you were trying to say at all! I feel like when we do have a baby this is something that it a bit private..and especially in New York people take a lot of liberties with commenting, etc.

    I hope you have a lovely long weekend ahead of you! Take Care 🙂

  • Reply secretfragileskies May 24, 2014 at 4:46 am

    I don't know. It might seem intrusive but it is also a way of sharing/remembering a connection. Being pregnant made me feel like a princess – the attention dissipates once the baby arrives and the work begins – enjoy it all – just smile. Someday we will all be looking back – maybe wistfully at young pregnant mothers-to-be recalling our own experience – who knows what words we will have for them?

  • Reply Anonymous May 26, 2014 at 5:04 am

    i sent this post to a pregnant friend, and she would add:
    1. I still go by my previous name, which isn’t Preggie or Preggers.
    2. And, “you’re looking well/good/great/nice” is more likely to be a successful compliment than “you’re looking big/fat/sticking your stomach out”. Especially annoying when the person telling you is a good 30kg heavier without being pregnant.

  • Reply Marie May 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    That "were you trying to get pregnant" question drives me up the wall! I've only heard it from family so far, as I think most of the general population is smart enough to know better than to ask such a thing, but my own sister repeatedly asked as though it was her right to know. There was a part of me, a small, bitchy part of me that wanted to bring up the fact that I managed to avoid pregnancy for 10 years but yes, I randomly ended up pregnant by accident.

  • Reply Sauey Clan June 1, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Amen. To all of this. Congratulations on your beautiful girl, enjoy every minute!

  • Reply Lena June 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Congratulations to you! Such a good post, really enjoyed reading it!

  • Reply thefolia February 13, 2015 at 3:31 am

    I would love playing with people and pretending that they falsely accused me of being pregnant. Once, someone asked me "are you" (long pause) I finished the sentence by saying "fat?" and they didn't know what to say after that.

  • Reply Carrie December 15, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Wow, I’m surprised by some of the offence this post has generated! I’m 28 weeks and am already tired of the comments. Part of the reason, for me, is that I have always struggled with body image issues so to be told day after day, month after month, that I’m ‘getting so big!’ gets very old, very quickly. And that’s just coworkers/clients who already know about it, since I’ve just recently hit a stage where its becoming clearly visible and strangers are starting to comment. It’s also weird to hear ‘you’re so big’ and then a completely opposite comment mere hours later ( ‘Are you sure you’re even pregnant??’), although those ones bother me much less, precisely because of the sort of body image issues I have. I think the point is, its difficult to have your physical appearance commented on, on a daily basis, for months on end. This is not a once or twice kind of event, it’s almost daily for me. So yeah, I’m going to get sensitive after months of it. I appreciate the comments from women who saw it as a compliment when people said how huge they’re getting. I want to keep that in mind. Since come commenters have asked, here are some really wonderful comments that I have enjoyed getting so far: “You have that pregnant woman glow!”, “I love seeing that belly!”, “You look fantastic!”, “Pregnancy so suits so!”. and even questions like “How are you feeling?”, “How do you like being pregnant?”, “Do you know the gender?” (and their comments/predictions) and I love when people dive right into their own stories and have an actual conversation with me about more than my physical appearance (reminiscing about their own pregnancies, talking about their struggles with having children or not, talking about the joys of parenting rather than the difficulties). Anyway, thank you for the post Erin, I used the ‘search’ function on your blog specifically to see if you had written anything about this as I have been feeling down after a comment about how my pregnancy is ‘showing in my face’. hah. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

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