Family, Health, Life

A tip for polite society

02.09.14 | 1 Comment

Two posts in a year? Really?

Like old friends, let’s just pretend like it hasn’t been ages and pick up where we left off. I’m fine with that. You? Whew. Thanks. Because I do have good intentions; I have so much to say and no time to say it, or I talk myself out of it because TMI or confidentiality or the chance it will be taken out of context. I’d love to say I’m writing it down in a super secret journal somewhere, or calling up a loved one instead, but most of the time I’m living stream of consciousness, with a few moments of reflection here and there.

So. Everyone generally understands that asking a woman if she’s pregnant doesn’t win you any brownie points, yes? Because if you have to ask, it isn’t obvious, and she hasn’t outright told you, so what you’re left with is this awkward situation: either you’ve just implied that she’s fatter than she probably wants to be, or it’s early and she doesn’t want to tell you yet. So I have come to know that many people have not thought this through. (FYI, since you’re all much too nice to ask, Zoe’s an only and probably always will be, so no news to report here.) If you’ve asked someone like myself who has only a thin filter, you’ll get the long list of excuses of why I carry around about 8 extra pounds. It’ll start with my pre-Zoe weight, followed by my post-delivery weight, followed by the high praise of breastfeeding and parenting the busiest child ever, which I credit for my all-time-adult-low weight when Zoe was about a year old. (And quickly, you’re very sorry you mentioned anything.) Then I’ll tell you about how I started med school and sat a lot while studying, so the weight returned, and it settled right where you’re pointing. I’ve had two abdominal surgeries; one healed very well. The next… Zoe was born at a university hospital where the residents did much of the repair. They’re in training. So. While I’ll be forever grateful for that awesome day and how great they were at documenting Zoe’s first moments with pictures that I couldn’t possibly have captured, the closure was by no means expert. Plus, you know, babies. Your body is never the same anyway. And I’m lazy. I’ll tell you about how my “best” efforts at exercise and eating right are, when I really am honest, fair and disorganized. And I totally love so many foods. Then residency. You’d think you’re running around the hospital saving lives, which…some days you are. Other days you’re holed up in a cubby in a fetal position rocking yourself so it won’t hurt so much with snacks. (I’m kidding – our call rooms are much larger than cubbies, and I really like the days where I’m available but not needed and get to catch up on my other piles of work.) And, in case any future residents are reading, my program is awesome and food is covered.

Then, if you’re really lucky, the conversation will turn to the future. Do we plan to have any more children? You’ll hear about my cutoff, and how there’s no good time, and how Zoe desperately wants a sibling, and you’ll see a fleeting sad expression when I think about how the door is closing due to a combination of indecision, overwhelm, and simple biology. Of course, you could be a patient of mine, or the umpteenth person who has asked, or we just aren’t that close, in which case I’ll simply say, “Nope, just my mom tummy.” I’M NOT OFFENDED AT ALL. Merely appalled at your human indecency. Unless you’re a medical professional about to administer a potentially harmful test or treatment, wait until a lady mentions it. Otherwise, it’s none of your beeswax.

Honestly I’m pretty confused about the whole thing. I’m fatter than I want to be, sure. But I’m still a normal weight with a normal BMI. And interestingly, the people who ask are often a good bit heavier than I. So what do I do then? I can’t start talking about my unacceptably and disproportionately large belly, which YOU BROUGHT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE, because it’s smaller than yours, and it would be rude to point out when someone’s belly is big. But see you didn’t know that or you wouldn’t have mentioned it. I replay our conversation: did I say something that implied I was with child? Is it my choice of clothing? I will say that it *could* be that they want to share in the excitement just in case their astute observation that I’m unshapely turns out to be better news. Most of the time, though, the only thing I can pin it on is the person’s ignorance of all social graces. I silently thank them for opening a couple of wounds, and then, apparently, blog about it. Consider it a PSA.

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