As if a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough to worry about, people (friends, family and strangers alike) suddenly feel compelled and completely free to comment on her body. I’ve learned to become impervious to these unsolicited opinions (a skill which I will no doubt have the chance to perfect over the course of my child’s life). Throughout my pregnancy the remarks have fallen into the general category of “too small”. It wasn’t even clear to the outside world that I was pregnant until I was around six months, and then people thought I was only four or five. “You don’t even look pregnant!” became “You’re way too small to be that far along.” I received helpful suggestions like “Eat more doughnuts” and flat out denials of my progress, “No, you’re wrong, you’re not eight months.”
I worried at first, because that’s what I do. But everything checked out at my prenatal appointments, my midwife assuring me that everyone carries their babies differently. I felt great throughout, I ate healthy, I gained 25 pounds, I was giving my baby everything he needed. What did I care if people were judging me because I didn’t gain 50 pounds and look like a circus freak?
Then, this Friday at nearly 37 weeks, I got it from my midwife. “You’re measuring too small. I’m ordering an ultrasound.”
The anxiety I’d managed to hold at bay flooded in. I’d been so good, I’d exercised, I’d given up alcohol, sushi, soft cheeses, everything good in life for the sake of this kid, hadn’t I? But the guilt of my few indulgences crept in. What if the raw eggs in the cookie dough I’d snacked on a few times was the culprit? What if his low weight was attributed to the half-caffeinated cup of coffee I’d allowed myself each morning of my third trimester? Had I taken more sips of wine from my husband’s glass than I should have? Was my family’s disdain at my not eating meat justified? What if my baby wasn’t going to make it because I didn’t eat enough friggin’ doughnuts?!
Ultrasounds are hard to decipher for the untrained eye anyway, but this far along it was impossible for me to interpret the fuzzy dark and light body parts. It’s just so darn crowded in there. The tech was all business, sliding his equipment around on my warm jelly-covered belly, clicking buttons, taking measurements. “So, what’s the verdict?” I asked, ready to defend myself with a plea of Not Guilty to the accusation of crack abuse that was surely coming.
“6 pound, 6 ounces,” he said. “Looks good.” Phew…
He commenced giving me the tour of my son’s beautiful, healthy body. Everything was there – hands, feet, giant testicles (he’s still a boy), and my husband’s luscious lips. My Little Man is just fine! He weighs more already than some of the babies I know born at full-term. So, suck it, haters! (That was me doing a crotch chop.)
I went onto Baby Center just in case to make sure what measuring small for dates might mean. It says, “Being small of stature or having well-conditioned abdominal muscles can give you a smaller initial fundal measurement.” While I’ve never been categorized as small in stature, I’m in pretty good shape, so next time I hear there’s no way I’m in my ninth month of pregnancy, I’ll say, “Don’t be jealous of my killer abs, yo.”
My midwife did call later and say that the results of the ultrasound show he is in the 45th percentile for his weight this far along. So it begins. The comparison to “normal” he’ll face the rest of his childhood. Though I did fight the over-acheiver in me that thought, “Oh no, he’s already below average,” I did take advantage of National Doughnut Day and had nearly half a dozen Krispie Kremes.