Embrace the Bump and Stop the Shaming

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Have you heard the story of Kristi Gordon, the Canadian meteorologist who received hate mail for the maternity clothes she wears during newscasts? If you haven’t, take a moment to watch the video below.

Not only did Kristi have to endure those hurtful comments, but she had publicly asked viewers not to send them after she received similar reactions during her first pregnancy. Since when should a woman – pregnant or not – have to ask people not to send personal attacks?

imageAs a working mother in my third trimester, I can relate to Kristi’s situation and it infuriates me. Hearing her story only ignited the fire I’ve recently kindled since becoming pregnant with my first child. It’s about “mom shaming.” Strangers shame moms, people without kids shame moms, and worse, moms shame other moms. It could be an intentional message of hate – as with Kristi’s story – or an innocent comment you didn’t know could hurt.

Are you sure you’re that far along… you don’t even look pregnant.
You may not realize the power this simple sentence holds. I constantly hear that I’m hiding my pregnancy well, or that people have no idea I’m pregnant. Worse yet, I’ve been told my baby must not be growing correctly because I “look so small.”

Here’s the deal. I am a working mom-to-be and my dress code is very professional. When I’m in the office, I wear panty hose, a maternity skirt that further compresses my belly, a belly band or camisole over the skirt to keep it up, and a blouse. To top off all those layers, I have to add a blazer that engulfs my figure and further shrinks my baby bump. Uncomfortable? Yes. But, I’m still pregnant. When I’m not at work and am instead wearing comfortable leggings and a breathable shirt, you could flip me on my back and use my stomach as one of those exercise balls (I don’t recommend this). I’m significantly larger without five layers of clothing compressing my growing tummy. But, no one sees that and I’m left paranoid about the size of my baby.

The same goes for women who are told they look “huge,” “ready to pop,” or “miserable.”

Diapers, food, working, and other tough decisions.
Comments can be hurtful and, often, people just don’t realize it. It doesn’t stop at clothing, though and that’s what I relate to most with Kristi’s story. It’s in the conversations about cloth diapers vs. disposable ones, organic baby food vs. store-bought jars, and stay-at-home moms vs. the working mother.

The mom who is using disposable diapers doesn’t love her child any less. Maybe she doesn’t have a washing machine. Maybe her uncle invented Pampers. You just don’t know her story. Likewise, the mom who makes her own baby food isn’t a hippie. Maybe she likes to garden and she’s already growing the squash, so why not blend it up and save some money?

When a working mom tells a stay-at-home how lucky she is to be able to spend all day with her babies, maybe she doesn’t realize that the stay-at-home momma is tired, disappointed, or longs to be working. Alternatively, the stay-at-home mom who tells a working mom that she’s missing out on her baby’s life may not understand how desperately that working momma wants to be home but simply can’t afford to. Maybe she’s spent hours, weeks, or months trying to come up with a way to make things work. But, she can’t. And so she heads to the office.

We’re all doing the best we can. And we’re all doing alright.

It’s especially damaging to those who don’t know any better.
As a first-time mom, I’m sensitive to these comments. First-timers haven’t done this before. We don’t know what’s normal. We don’t know if we’re growing too slowly because we look smaller than a stranger thinks we should. We don’t know if we’re gaining too much weight because someone tells us we look like we are due tomorrow when we’re only 30 weeks along. We have enough anxiety during these tumultuous nine months. We really don’t need any more.

It’s innocent, for the most part, and I realize that. But, not all “mom-shaming” is unintentional. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes support to be pregnant.

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. It’s a miracle in every way and is something that should be honored and admired, not examined under a microscope and scrutinized. Instead of sending hate mail to Kristi, I wish people would have commented about how beautiful she looks or what a wonderful example she’s setting for her children. It’s not about the clothes, the diapers, breastfeeding, or infant massages – it’s about the miracle we’re undertaking. And that is worth celebrating.

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