One of the worst parts of being pregnant (aside from the fact that I went batsh*t insane sometime during my second trimester) was that, all of a sudden, people seemed to think that my body was public property.
Old ladies tried to touch my belly. Strangers made comments. Randos had opinions. I mean, randos will always have opinions, but when I was pregnant, they seemed to think that they had license to share their opinions. Coworkers I wasn’t close to asked invasive and inappropriate questions like “Was it on purpose?” When I announced my pregnancy, one coworker said, “I thought that you were looking a little thicker.” A female client commented on my breasts (to be fair, they got so big that I felt like a pornographic cartoon, and I was working with drug addicts, who are not generally known for their tact, but still, that’s an inside thought).
By all accounts this is a pretty common experience. Maybe not the specifics, but in the broad strokes. I’ve read other blog posts about it. It is apparently A Thing. Maybe it was harder for me than for some because I’m generally a private person (this blog being the obvious exception) and my physical bubble is on the large side.
But still, really, what the actual f***. Just because a person is pregnant does not mean they give up the right to be treated with common decency and good manners. It is never good manners to tell a woman that she looks “a little thicker.” Never. Pregnancy is stressful enough, and filled with enough indignities due to the physical changes your body goes through without other people adding to it. A pregnant person is still a person.
For me, it got to the point (well, combined with the depression, I’m sure) that I didn’t want to leave the house because I just didn’t want to hear it.
And here’s the thing. Our culture totally supports this. My experience was in no way unique. For whatever reason, in our culture, good manners go right out the window when it comes to talking to pregnant people. We forget that they are people. And being on the receiving end of that is totally f***ing horrible.
I find myself wondering if this didn’t contribute to my depression. I’m not saying it’s the only thing, or even a major thing. The major thing was probably just terrible genetic luck. But depression is complicated. It involved psychosocial as well as biological factors. And for me, being treated as less than human (I know that sounds dramatic, but when people stop acting like they have to treat you with respect or common decency, it can feel that way) was a psychosocial factor that made me feel like sh*t.
And I wonder how many mamas take a hit to their mental health because of this sort of thing, this very “normal” feature of our culture. And I wonder if it could be easier, if we all made the effort to remember that pregnant people are people, and that maybe we could make a point of treating them as such. Because it shouldn’t have to be this way.