By: Danielle McFadden
Today I stumbled upon a Today Show clip regarding viewers speculating that Savannah Guthrie was pregnant. This is a topic I’ve considered writing about for several years now, but I’ve never built up the nerve to do so. Despite feeling vulnerable, I know now is the time to speak up, so we can hopefully put an end to this.
More than a handful of times since I’ve been of “child bearing age” I’ve been congratulated or asked when I was due. I can remember the first time it happened… I was twenty four years old, in the best shape of my life and wearing an empire waist dress – so someone assumed it was hiding a baby bump. It was an awkward exchange that forced me to say the dreaded words, “No, I’m not pregnant.” (But obviously, you think I look it.) I made a joke about it, but inside I wanted to die. I can pinpoint the few times in my life that I’ve felt totally comfortable in my skin, and up until I was asked when I was due, that was one of those times. I was walking 1-2 hours a day, eating great and in the best shape of my life. I worked so hard to feel comfortable in my own skin and in a split second, the confidence I had been feeling (and earned) was shattered.
Fast forward eleven years and three kids later… It’s hard to explain the insecurity many women feel after giving birth. It’s all worth it to have a beautiful new baby that you love more than life itself, but man is it hard when you’re sleep deprived, can’t fit in your regular clothes and your hormones are completely out of whack. Tack on someone making a reference about your weight and it’s a pretty horrible feeling.
The week that I returned to work after having my first child, I was congratulated and asked when I was due. I was wearing a shirt that I bought in 5 different colors, because it was one of the only things I felt comfortable in. I was adjusting to life as a working mom, I had 20 pounds to lose and was very insecure – not to mention extremely sad to leave my little girl behind for eight hours a day. Again, I tried to laugh it off, but like Savannah eloquently put it, “I’m not pregnant. I have a three month old at home. And now I’m going to burn this shirt (and the four others I have just like it)!”
My youngest is now nine months old. I am slowly starting to feel like “myself” again, but definitely have more “baby weight” to shed. Recently, someone gave up their seat for me at an event because “I have an excuse.” Immediately, I knew what that meant (although everyone I told the story to said my excuse was that I had heels on). A week later, the same person made reference to me not being able to drink and I walked away reaffirming what I originally thought… He thinks I’m pregnant. (I secretly hoped I would bump into him while drinking a glass of red wine that would land all over him, but my plan didn’t hold up.) Hopefully, I can lose twenty pounds before seeing this person again (we all can dream), but if not, will I really be forced to say those three dreaded words again? I’M NOT PREGNANT.
As a society, we have to flip the script on this. It’s never okay to assume a woman is pregnant. Words hurt; and if someone is insecure about her body, those words stick. (And, who isn’t insecure at times?) A woman’s body is INCREDIBLE. Our bodies can GROW A BABY. Our bodies can DELIVER A BABY. Our bodies can FEED A BABY. We are AMAZING and it’s a shame that can be overshadowed by comments that mean nothing to the person saying them, but so much to the person hearing them.
My daughter Zoe is now four years ago. I try so hard not to mention my weight or hers. I want her to grow up cherishing her body. I don’t want her ever to feel the insecurities that I do. And if I have anything to do with it, she’ll never experience what it feels like to have someone think she’s pregnant when she’s not.
We can change this. Not for our sake, but for our daughters.
*originally published by Danielle via LinkedIn on May 23, 2018. Reposted with permission