On Bellies and Closets

This is going to be a navel-gazing post. Literally.

So you know how, when you’re getting on towards the end of stims, your belly swells up to gigantic proportions, and you stand in front of the mirror and say with horror to your sweetie, “man, I look 4 months pregnant?”

Well, now I am in my 4th month, and I gotta say, while the emotional landscape has changed dramatically, the physical sensations are truly somewhat similar. Minus, thankfully, the painful ovaries, but the feeling of being a giant bloated egg, with skin stretched to the max, is a lot like that was. It does make a person wonder about what the next 5.5 months will bring if now already the sense of being a waddling egg has started.

The belly has been, for me, noticeably bigger for a while now. There was particularly a noticeable jump middle of 15th week, when I swear I went to sleep one size and woke up to find myself, vaguely disturbingly, a quantum leap bigger.  A similar increase happened again mid 16th week.

In response to these increases I have been telling myself that other people just think I am a bit chubby, after all in the foreign city where I temporarily live I don’t often run into people who would know what I look like normally. Lately, though, I have begun to wonder.

Recently Mr.Nishka and I went to a fancy meeting in Capital City (the one involving the Prez) where I ran into a colleague of mine from back home. She said she had heard I was pregnant and I said something very smooth in return like “Aaaack! No one is allowed to know!” She threw a skeptical look at my stomach and said “Honey, they are going to figure it out eventually.”

So I admit, I have been using the convenient fact that I am living abroad to live a double life. No one can see The Belly so no one need know about The Pregnancy. And I like it that way.

Actually, we did come out of the closet to tell our bosses after the 1st trimester scan, since they needed to know about the parental leave plans. After we told them, I emailed a few select people who I thought would be really hurt not to hear it straight from us, mostly people who had shared the infertility journey with us.  After the telling I got a huge resurgence of the Dead Baby Thoughts. Other people were acting like This Is Real and it really triggered for me the fear of having to break it to them that something has gone wrong.

In any case, I just went on a business trip. Yep, me, Ms Pukes-A-Lot finally was healthy enough to go work with colleagues, hooray!

Before I went I tried to figure out whether I should confess my state to my colleagues. My preference, of course, was to pretend All Is Usual, Nothing to See Here, Move Along Now. But I was worried that the belly would give it away, or at least cause the colleagues to wonder where the sudden weight gain came from. The downside is the colleagues on the trip know the colleagues back home, and if they started talking to them about it the colleagues back home would rightfully be annoyed that they were not told first. I kept asking Mr. Nishkanu, “Do I look pregnant, or just bloated?” But he didn’t know, he was used to me and couldn’t judge the outside perspective. I finally bit the bullet and wrote the remaining home colleagues who needed to know the day before I left.

When I arrived at my destination, I met up with dear colleague #1, who knew about our struggles and our cycle. When I arrived, he asked how I was. I said “kind of nauseous and tired.” He paused for a bit, and then said in a tentative tone, “Are you still… pregnant?” Man, that is how you can tell a real friend, who knows not to assume you are pregnant now just because you were 2 months ago.

Later that day his 7 year old daughter found out I was pregnant. She immediately stared with interest at my stomach (something I found refreshing because adults try so had to be polite and not stare when they find out). She thought for a while, then said to me, “You don’t look pregnant.” Aha, I thought, good to know, problem solved. But then I realized she meant “in comparison to my mom when she was 9 months pregnant.” So not much help there, though the honesty of a 7 year old is a truly refreshing thing..

The next morning I said to colleague #1, “You gotta tell me, are people going to notice that I am pregnant or can I hide it a while longer?” He had me model front and side views, and concluded that I am in the “is she fat or is she pregnant?” stage. He said it would depend a lot on what I wear, but unfortunately I only have one outfit that really covers things up, and I would see the other colleagues on two days which would require two outfits. Dang fashion mistake. Also, colleague #1 was looking at me in the morning, and I know the bump is way bigger after dinner. I realized my days were numbered and I would have to confess. @?:$-&+!!!!

To be honest I hate telling people I am pregnant. Part of it is the fear of having to undo. But a lot of it is the fact that people act… well… happy and excited for me. In a way like they think the baby will live. And I hope it will live and am starting to trust that it might live but it is such a different mental space that the best I can do is to pretend to be the person they are talking to. And the real me feels very alone during those conversations.  Life in the closet is so much more comfortable.  Unfortunately these days the belly is sticking out of it.



  1. Ana said

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better! Yes, the belly betrays us closet-lovers too soon. I was very diasppointed that everything I read about “not showing until 15-16 weeks” was a lie. My dear colleagues accosted me 2 weeks ago (when I was not not quite 12 weeks) demanding a “yes or no” answer. When I asked WHY people thought I might be pregnant, every single one responded with something along the lines of “well…you’ve always been so thin”. in other words, “we’ve noticed you’re fat”. Ummm….what if the answer was no? How embarrassed would they feel? Is it really acceptable to ask someone if they are pregnant because you’ve noticed some belly flab??? They didn’t notice that I’ve looked like death warmed over, having bizarre eating patterns, or turning down wine(a definite first for my lush-y self). I wasn’t ready to tell—we still hadn’t gone for our first trimester screening and dead baby thoughts were frequent; I was really annoyed to have to spill the beans before I was ready. Shouldn’t it be up to the parents to decide when and how and to whom to spread the news? (just my ranting, sorry!)

    • nishkanu said

      It’s hard to believe people can be idiotic enough to ask, but if they do, I say lie up a storm and make ’em feel terrible!

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