I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a petite person, so any child that I have unfortunately has the bad luck of not only being harbored in a short torso but also in a super-tiny uterus. It’s not a surprise that the baby would be a little smaller than average. But it is apparently a surprise to most people that I look as tiny as I do – and for having gained as much weight as I have.
35-ish weeks in, I have now gained over 30 pounds (although I am usually weighed in the late afternoon). That’s apparently normal, and apparently as long as I keep working as an incubator, the weight gain isn’t over. But that weight gain really means nothing in the eyes of the on-lookers, the strangers, and the watchers, all of whom have come to the same three conclusions about my pregnancy experience:
“You’re due when? That soon?”
“You’re so cute!!!!”
and “Wow! Good for you!”
Just by looking at the size of my belly.
That pretty much sums up the reactions I’m getting at this point in my pregnancy, which still surprises me that people would see me this way. Because first of all, my weight gain has been within what they want you to gain (25-35 pounds). Second of all, I have a huge ass belly – or at least I think so. And third, what they don’t realize – and what I don’t tell most of them – is that not looking like I have a big baby has actually been a bad, somewhat scary thing – and they don’t realize I fight the urge to grimace when they congratulate me on my little belly.
With UU, you are at an increased risk for intrauterine growth restriction, which basically means, your baby has a tough time growing. You don’t need to have a UU for IUGR to happen – you could be malnourished, you could have some autoimmune disease, there could be something wrong with the baby, etc. But let’s face it – UU’ers are at risk for smaller babies; regardless if they make it to full term or not, they’re likely to be on the smaller side. When my MFM specialist started asking me how much I had gained, it wasn’t because she was curious – it’s because the baby was small. Growing, but small. And I’ve done everything I could since we realized it was going to be that much of a problem to overcome to get him to grow, and grow he has been doing for the last month – thankfully.
That doesn’t make me feel any better about having a small belly, though. I know people are being polite. They may even be in awe of what they perceive to be my self-control or even my fitness level (which has sunk to zilch in the last six months). And I don’t let them know their perception is wrong, that it isn’t any of those wonderful, aspirational reasons why I look the way I do – it’s something totally out of my control and something which I wish I didn’t have to deal with. I sat in those childbirthing classes still feeling like the left-out infertilite – still yearning for the big belly, because a big belly means a big baby (well, not always), but at least someone with a chance of being bigger than mine. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about conserving every calorie so that my little one can grow big and strong, that he would have a fighting chance if he was premature, and that he would be just as healthy as any other baby born from a normal, fully functional reproductive system. The burdens of infertility do not abandon you even when you are fertile.