Physique Fail.

Hand-drawn Cartoon: An elderly lady stands in conversation with wild-hair Kate.  The old lady is pointing at Kate's stomach.  Kate is wearing a black dress and pearls.  The old lady's speech bubble contains a picture of a baby and a question mark.  Kate's speech bubble contains a picture of McDonald's fries and a full stop.  Caption reads: "Awkward..."

I have a problem.

Everybody thinks I’m pregnant.

I have started to keep a bitter tally of the well-meaning parish ladies, hapless school dads and soon-to-be-mortified kinder mums who have leaned in conspiratorially whilst casting affectionate glances at my belly and asked when the baby was due.  That’s my lunch you’re looking at, folks.

Food babies: I can’t seem to eat a meal without entering a phantom gestational stage.  If the meal were to contain wheat or onion or – God forbid – beans, it’s enough to send me well into my second trimester.  And my weakness for liquorice jubes doesn’t help matters.

You might remember my attempts at running.  I had great hopes that my weekly lolloping through the park might eventually result in a non-pregnant physique.  Running gave me lovely, slender arms and legs, all muscular and lithe, which only helped to accentuate my completely unaffected designer bump.

So I got this DVD – Pilates for Dummies – and I think I might be too dumb for it.  This impossibly cheerful American lady in a leotard contorts herself into myriad positions whilst reminding me to “pull my navel to my spine” and “maintain the ‘C’ shape”.  By the time I’ve convinced my body to bend into a lame counterfeit of leotard lady’s, the children are all out of bed and decide it’s “jump on Mummy” time.

Then I thought about Shape Wear.  Those magic underpants and skirts and things that try to compress your stomach and all your vital organs into a shape approximating that of a photoshopped model.  Last week, I went on a special date with my husband.  It took me twenty minutes to successfully climb into my brand-new Miracle Pants and another ten to stop bits of flab from poking out in strange places.

It was as we were dropping off the children at my parents’ (all dolled up in my LBD and expensive lipstick) that I ran into the school secretary from my old primary school.

“What lovely children you have!  And are you…?” she beamed, nodding at my midriff.

I shook my head apologetically.  Her eyes filled with panic, but her smile stayed valiantly in place.

“Well, what I mean to say is, you always look so lovely…”, she finished lamely and we quickly ran away from each other.

Now I’ve decided the problem is not me, it’s OTHER PEOPLE.  Surely there should be some rule: Don’t Ask a Woman if She Is Pregnant.  Simple, straightforward, easy to follow.  If a woman approaches you with a prominent bump, panting, and says “Please call me an ambulance – my contractions are two minutes apart!”, you should blink and say “but, whatever for?”

People are stupid and they have no social skills.  This righteous anger has carried me all through the week.  Yesterday, I was chatting to one of the kinder mums about school holidays.  “Having both of them at home full-time is too much for me,” she said, “I don’t know how I’m going to cope when the next one comes”

“Oh, I didn’t realize,” I say, frowning at her stomach, “are you expecting?”

Her face fell.  “When the next school holiday comes,” she said in a small voice, “because, um, it’s longer…”

I felt horror-struck.  There was nothing I could do.  I knew from experience that any backpedalling I might attempt would only make things worse.  I could already see that she had retreated inside herself, and that her head was helpfully playing a reel of Stars Who Lost Their Baby Fat Whilst Still in the Delivery Ward and Thigh Gap and Disney Princesses Whose Waists are as Narrow as their Necks.

The pause that followed was very pregnant.  I had become my own worst nightmare.  I reached into my pocket.

“Erm … would you like a liquorice jube?”


36 thoughts on “Physique Fail.

  1. irini112014

    Thank you for having the guts to post this. I can relate, one time someone saw me and said, “Wow, you look like you are going to pop! When are you due?” And I replied, “Six months ago, thanks.” That was special.
    Again, thanks for this.

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Ouch! And doesn’t a comment like that just ruin your whole day? My husband tries to tell me that it says more about other people and their lack of social skills than it does about me, but it’s very hard to believe that in the moment! Thank you for your lovely comment!

      1. irini112014

        Hey, I was thinking too, as I disappeared into the other room to do Zumba after I read your post, that that is a workout that targets the whole body. I was really into it between kids, going so far as being licensed as an instructor. Now that the kids are a bit bigger, I am reconsidering it. I lost a pants size in 8 months doing it. But indeed, I did find that the fat melted off from my feet and head first, but I also lost the kangaroo pouch, and continued to stay slimish all through my second pregnancy (it was post-baby that I really gained weight). Have you ever tried it?
        I enjoy your blog though, and your openness, and humor. Thanks.

        1. katelikestocreate Post author

          Zumba does sound like fun, but I’ve never tried it. I find it’s easy to gain wait post-baby – sleep deprivation makes me eat, plus there are so many more trying situations that call for comfort food in those first few months!

          1. irini112014

            Nursing really did me in – I’ve never been so hungry in my life as I was nursing. And, indeed, I’m too tired or too busy to keep up an exercise regime with an infant plus his older sister. I think it’s pretty awesome actually that you found time to run.

            1. katelikestocreate Post author

              I found, also, that I kept up my nursing eating habits after I weaned the babies! Plus, I’ve never been able to exercise much when the babies were very small. I’m sort of new to it!
              Speaking of exercise, all this talk has inspired me to walk to school today – I’d better get going!

  2. storiesofourboys

    Hilarious! Bless you! Such an honest post!! I have donated about four different dresses to Goodwill, thanks to this same issue. I have found that as long as I never, never, never, ever wear an empire waist anything, I”m usually safe. HOWEVER, you are right. This IS an unspoken rule of etiquette. No one should ever ask that question. If a woman looks like she is about to birth a watermelon, then you don’t even need to ask, it’s obvious. Otherwise, you never ever ask. I think it’d be great, next time someone says that, to say, “No, and it really hurts my feeling when people ask me that.” I mean, as adults, we never say that, and it would add a whole other level of awkwardness that would kind of be fun to create…

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      You are so right. It would be great to have the guts (not just the protruding beer-gut) to say that. But half the time, I’m feeling really sorry for the other person at the same time as feeling awful myself. They look so stricken! Surely this is a mistake you should only make once? And yet so many of these people were well into their fifties or older…

      1. storiesofourboys

        YES!!! I have noticed that too!!! Oh, my pride is always too wounded to feel sorry for them. I mostly just want to go home and cry in my corner. But no, I’ve never had the nerve to say that either. My son says that to ME when I hurt his feelings, and it’s so precious, totally different in our situation though…

  3. Anna Eastland

    Kate, your fail posts always make my day! I always think, “Oh, goodie! A fail post!” It’s as good as eating chocolate in bed…
    I’ve got a little post baby belly myself, and was also recently asked by a well-meaning older lady when I was due. That happened to me once WHILE I was nursing my first newborn! Isn’t that a bit ridiculous? I was still sitting on cushions to recover from the first birth! 😉
    Anyway, my charming 1 1/2 year old boy insists on following me EVERYWHERE, and while I was changing my shirt the other day squinted at my belly and distinctly said, “Yutty!” Thanks, honey, yucky is exactly what I was going for…
    But you know what, soldiers have battle scars and we have extra curvy bits…leftover baby home…a sign that we have held two souls in our body. It’s pretty amazing.
    And anyway, it’s not very comforting to hug someone who is all skin and bones…so next time you have a little treat, you can smile serenely and say, ” It’s all so my children have a comforting place to cuddle when life is hard. Like after so someone says something really stupid.”

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Anna, your comments always make my WEEK!
      I love the idea of ‘battle scars’, and especially ‘a sign that we have held two souls in our body’, what a beautiful sign – why do we rush to eliminate it? My grandmother once asked her friend when her baby was due in the company of said baby, God bless her.
      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m currently working on my ‘place of comfort’ with a delightful banana muffin. It’s a labour of love.

      1. Anna Eastland

        You make me laugh! The kids and I went Starbucks today to celebrate that we actually, amazingly got to daily Mass today for the Immaculate Conception of Mary (by the end of the homily…). Anyway, I had a nice pumpkin cream cheese muffin and an eggnog latté…and the world felt like a better place! 🙂

  4. Lia

    Number 1 rule i learnt in retail… unless a women tells you she is pregnant, she is not pregnant. Waters break in the shop, still not pregnant, just peed herself as far as i am concerned.

  5. nataliec1603

    Love this post! I have been to a few family events recently and been asked repeatedly if I am pregnant. My partner’s sister and her boyfriend even watched me to see if I would accept some wine at dinner only to announce to everyone at the table “see, she’s not pregnant if she’s drinking!”. Ergh, thanks for that.
    Started slimming world last Monday.

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Oh! I have my drinking habits scrutinized regularly too! Am I such an alcoholic that I can’t go without wine without being accused of being with child?

      Thanks for the lovely comment!

  6. Emma@DKOdesigns

    And here was I feeling I was the only one with this pot-bellied problem! Last time I answered “No, but I’m flattered that you still think I look young enough to be pregnant.”

  7. mrsgillies

    I had the dreaded comment on our honeymoon. Wheat bloats me no end however we were in Fiji and it was our honeymoon so i was just going for it. When the waitress asked when we were due i was devastated!

  8. Mark O'Dowd

    It is no different for males either Kate. If a man does not understand this then they are socially inept. A man should not even ask if his wife is pregnant unless her waters break!!!!

  9. bradams75

    I feel so stupid. Just one more things to add to the list of things that I thought were bleeding obvious but that I am obviously wrong about because we live in a democracy where the majority are always right. My New Years Resolution is: if I am ever in doubt as to whether a woman is pregnant I’m just going to ask. I’m also going to vote Liberal at the next election.

  10. Amy @ Love and Be Loved

    I loved this!!! I don’t usually laugh aloud at online readings but I did at this. You are hysterical. So thankful for your thinking writing and posting. !!! I’m sending this on to my sister and mom 🙂

  11. madblog

    You are correct about people. It’s amazing how often this happens. One of the most basic rules of politeness I’ve passed to my kids: NEVER ask, comment or refer to a woman’s pregnancy until she tells you she’s expecting!

  12. Pingback: Placenta of Attention | Laptop on the Ironing Board

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