unrealistic expectations?

Yesterday, on my way to get Eleanor from daycare, I stopped by one of the local bike shops. We’ve been talking about getting Eleanor a balance bike for several months now – maybe as many as 6 (!?) – and, after seeing the Smart Gear Balance Bike on sale (1/2 off!) at Zulily (and because I had a $10 coupon) I finally made the executive decision to buy her one. It arrived about a week ago; Tim put it together this weekend and we brought it out for Eleanor on Sunday afternoon.
Tim and I both have road bikes which we (well, more Tim than me these days, for obvious reasons) ride often. We also have commuter bikes, to which we attached a fabulous child seat this spring and spent many hours riding bikes as a family. Eleanor has been asking for her “own bike” for more months than we’ve been thinking about buying her one, and (especially for someone that age) I think this demonstrates a lot of patience.

Needless to say, we were so excited to give it to her – to witness her reaction at first sight of the bike – and to watch her gain confidence as she learned to use the bike. Although a huge smile spread across her face when she first saw it, this joy was short lived. Within minutes, it was clear that the bike was too big for her – the seat was too high, preventing her feet from being flat on the ground (proof that I should not be trusted to make executive decisions?) – and that it would likely be 6 more months before the bike would fit. It seemed our only option was to pursue other options (and try to sell the {non-returnable} bike I bought).

Anywho…a friend told me that balance bikes were on sale at the bike shop, so I stopped to check it out. While waiting for the guy behind the counter to check on the specs and inventory availability of one of the two bikes they carried he started making small talk.

“When are you due?,” he asked.

“End of the month,” I answered him.

“Oh. Your still pretty small. Everything okay?”

Is this guy for real? I thought to myself. “Yes,” I responded honestly (because our last doctor’s visit and ultrasound (to check both position and size of this little man) suggested that everything was). I figured he had experience with women in their last month of pregnancy- why else would he comment on the size of my uterus?- so I asked about children.

“You have kids?” I questioned.

“Oh, no. Me? No.” he responded.

Oh, okay. So you’re suggestion that I’m not as “big” as I should be with one month left in my pregnancy is based on what exactly?  TV? Movies? I wondered if his expectations for what a woman who is 8 months pregnant should look like are a little warped by the average size of Americans these days: if the average non-pregnant woman looks like that, than someone who’s pregnant must surely be HUGE. And how am I supposed to feel about his comment: flattered that I still look “good” (whatever that means) or freaked out that my OB/GYN (who has decades of experience) or the high-tech ultrasound machine and trained doctors at the hospital might have missed something important – that there might actually be something wrong – which this guy, standing behind the counter, has picked up on? And why is pregnancy an invitation to all strangers to comment on the size and shape of my body? And does this guy not understand that pregnant woman can go from feeling rock solid calm to complete anxiety at the drop of a hat? You don’t say s*#t like that to a pregnant woman…not a good idea.

In the end he probably felt as awkward about the conversation as I did, because – with all these thoughts racing through my head – I just stared at him suspiciously from the corner of my eye and slowly backed away from the counter, wondering if my doctor would see me so late in the afternoon.



9 thoughts on “unrealistic expectations?

  1. Oh, that’s absurd! It’s amazing what people will say, too. It’s as if us being pregnant suddenly gives them license to dispense advice, touch us, and make sometimes-flattering, often-outlandish comments. I’ve been lucky–even though I’ve gained plenty of weight for this pregnancy, it doesn’t really show too much. Most people have said “Oh you carry it well” or “you’re all baby” or whatever. Generally benign stuff. But this one guy took one look at me and asked, “What? Are you carrying triplets in there or something??” I”m still trying to figure out what I should have said. I think, like you, I just kind of…stared at him.
    It’s like you said, some people have absolutely no filter when it comes to talking to pregnant women. This absolutely mystifies me. Of all the times to LIE to a woman, now’s the time! 😉 (this excluded OBs and midwives, of course)


  2. Hilarious! I also enjoyed the days when you’d run into one person who would optimistically say, “not too much longer” and another pessimist who would say, “ugh…you’ve still got a while”! So true…people can’t resist commenting on a baby bump. For better or worse!


  3. :). I was HUGE with both my pregnancies. From 6 months people would imply I shouldn’t be driving and sometimes even expressed outright horror that I still had 3 months to go. An HR employee once asked if I would need a wheelchair by the end. I’m not a big person and I really did have very large bumps. I’m not sure why people feel they can comment – especially one like that – but I know I’m guilty of it too. Although I try very hard to limit any I do make to “you look fantastic” or “you’re carrying beautifully” or some other encouraging thing. I think at some level babies and pregnancy are a group concern. It is in all our (primal) interests to see that the species continue and in days gone past we wouldn’t have been doing it in such relative isolation. Maybe it’s just an instinctive interest? Watch people in a restaurant or shopping mall…it’s almost impossible for most of us to ignore a pregnant woman.
    On a different note, I didn’t know you were pregnant :). Congrats! Makes me smile. I look forward to hearing about your new person.


    1. Catherine,
      I think you’re onto something here: “…babies and pregnancy are a group concern. It is in all our (primal) interests to see that the species continue and in days gone past we wouldn’t have been doing it in such relative isolation. Maybe it’s just an instinctive interest?”
      And I agree, that for most people it’s impossible to ignore a pregnant woman. And I am certainly just as guilty of looking at them with some measure of hope and joy – at the possibility for that new life- and I’m sure that has led me to say some pretty remarkable things!
      I like to think, however, that I know enough not to ask if everything is okay…or to use the word “cankles” as Allison’s midwife did!


      1. Agree absolutely! As you rightly said, at the wrong moment a pregnant mom is one throw-away remark away from a total anxiety melt down. Silly thing to say.


  4. Another thought – men USUALLY say the wrong things when they’re around beautiful women… and pregnant women are the MOST beautiful kind of women. You’re giving him an F on that encounter, but from our perspective it might be more like a B-.


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