please, please, don’t say it

I’m rounding the final bend here, folks- I’m 35 weeks pregnant, and boy, does it show. This is how I’m supposed to look, I tell myself. This is a beautiful and natural condition. But just when I have myself convinced, just when I’ve found one outfit that still fits and I think I look somewhat cute in, something like this happens:

My cleaning lady, Natasha, saw me yesterday for the first time in ten weeks. (Yes, I do get that it’s a luxury to have someone to clean once a week. I do. Let’s get that out of the way.)

“You so BEEG!” she exclaimed, with her typical Albanian enthusiasm and emphasis. I gritted my teeth. She’s just trying to be nice, I told myself. “I sure am,” I said with a smile. “I only have a month left.”

Then I got the dreaded look. The sizing-me-up look. The let-me-take-in-every-changed-inch-of-you and make-my-gender-prediction look. I do not like being the object of this gaze, mostly because what comes next is usually not flattering. But there’s no way to get out of it, and so I sat there for about ten seconds while Natasha checked me out, and then she nodded.

“I think is a girl.”

OK, then I knew it wasn’t going to be flattering. In all these methods of gender prediction, looking like you’re having a boy means you look “normal”/ good/ not pregnant. Looking like you’re having a girl means you look like, well, crap. There are many interesting misogynist implications here, reader, which we will unpack at another time.

Once Natasha said “girl,” I really didn’t want to hear the basis for her reasoning. But I could tell she wanted me to play my part. So I said,

“Why do you say that?”
“Because you have many, how you say, spots on your face.”

I breathed a great inward sigh of relief. Was that all?
“These are just freckles,” I said, grinning. “I get them from being outside with the kids all summer.”

“Well, I still think is girl,” Natasha said, “because your face… is like-a thees.” And then? She puffed out her cheeks as large as they would go.

Oh. Yes. She. Did. Say. That.

Now, thanks to Natasha, I have one thought running through my mind: I’m enormous. I’m fat. I’m huge. I look like Veruca Salt just before she was rolled away by the Oompa-Loompas.

I really, really don’t understand why people, especially FEMALE people, think it’s OK to say stuff like this to a pregnant woman. Don’t they know how fragile our self-esteem is at this husky-sized moment?

Or is it just me? Are other pregnant women not bothered by such comments? Can some women laugh them off, or better yet, agree with these assessments, and yet still have the dignity to leave the house in the morning?

If it’s me, I’ve got to figure out how to rise above. If it’s not me– if other pregnant women hate hearing this stuff as much as I do– then why does it happen all the time? And why do other women seem to be the worst offenders?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!