A few weeks ago, we were at the grocery store. The checker looked at my round belly and said, “When’s your baby due?” I cut her off before she could even get the words out and replied with a dead-inside voice, “I’m not pregnant.”
“You’re not? REALLY?”
“Nope. Not even a little.”
“Wow! Well, I guess it’s harder for us older moms to lose the baby weight.”
Yep. Old and fat. That’s me!
I silently took my groceries and my two-year-old son and not-pregnant-but-certainly-looks-it belly and left the store without another word. I didn’t trust myself to speak to her calmly or kindly. All of the terrible insults I could hurl back at her were bubbling up and filling my mouth with their unsaid-ness. Except that’s not entirely true. My mouth filled up with the unmistakable taste of tears, and a Napoleon Dynamite-esque internal monologue of lame comebacks.
Then I got angry at myself for wanting to cry because crying means I care. And I really don’t want to care.
This isn’t the first time my squishy belly has been mistaken for a baby belly. Being frisked at the airport by the TSA agent a few months ago: “You have such a cute bump!” I waited a moment to respond before saying, “Thanks! Due in September! Super excited!” because it was easier than going through all of the embarrassment of denying and the apologies from the offending party, or even worse, the justification.
When I tell you that I have dozens of these not-pregnant-but-people-still-ask-anyway moments, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been asked while sipping beer during happy hour on a gorgeous day. At a baby shower for my BFF from a licensed therapist as I arranged a tray of carrot sticks. Flagged down by a curious neighbor as I walked in from the garden, full of sunshine and good vibes, expecting a hello or request for zucchini and instead getting a “Girl, I had no idea you were pregnant! When are you due?”
I know I’m not alone, Women of the Interwebs. I know you’ve experienced this, too. The not-a-baby baby belly mistake also happened before I had my son, so I can’t blame pregnancy. It’s just my body. It’s where I carry any extra weight. I know the babywatching world gets a faux oxytocin high at the mere thought of squishy baby flesh, the newborn head smell and frail Chewbacca cries from miniature, undeveloped lungs. It’s almost too much for anyone to resist.
But seriously, Babywatchers. STOP IT. It’s none of your business. Commenting on a woman’s body in general without any solicitation from the woman is not only unwanted, it’s inappropriate. As humans, we’re nosy by nature. We want to know all the things. I totally understand. However, some things are just none of our business.
So, I put together a little infographic. Here’s how to know when it’s appropriate to ask if a woman is pregnant. Even if you’re like, 99.9999% certain there’s a baby in that belly, here’s a quick flow chart to help you.
Share this broadly, my friends.
Are you still unclear? No worries! I went ahead and ate a big Indian food lunch, wore some leggings, a form-fitting tank tank top, and skipped showering and makeup to create this little video with my iPhone. It doesn’t get any more real than this. YOU ARE WELCOME.