The Blog

Warning: Your Compliment to That Pregnant Woman Was an Insult

When will female bodies just be left alone? Must we always be on display for everyone to see, judge, measure and discuss? Is it really that difficult to offer a kind word to each other?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

"Are you sure you're even having twins?" the stranger asked.

She was trying to give me a compliment, I know. She was trying to say my pregnancy must be going well. She was trying to say I looked beautiful, happy even.

I'm sure she was.

Except, like countless other women I interacted with during my pregnancy, she made a conscious decision to focus on my size and commented about my bump instead.

Before I got pregnant, I heard tales about how wonderful it was, how random strangers would smile at you for no reason just because of your bump. One friend of mine even got a pile of free breadsticks after a worker saw her gazing at them.

I thought, "Babies and free breadsticks? I'm in!"

However, my pregnancy hasn't been about free breadsticks or about strangers smiling at me. In fact, when I see someone coming to ask me about my bump, I think to myself: "Am I going to lie and say I'm having a boy or am I going to admit the whole twin thing outright?"

It's become a game, you see, because every time I reveal I'm pregnant with twins, some stranger in their infinite wisdom thinks I am the wrong size.

There hasn't been one stranger who has simply said, "You look beautiful," the only words any pregnant woman wants to hear.

Twins & Size

If you haven't known anyone personally who has carried twins, then you might not know the size of the babies in relation to each other is extremely important. Every time a twin mom gets an ultrasound (and we get double to triple the number of ultrasounds as single pregnancies), doctors measure the size of each baby and the size of the babies in relation to each other.

There are so many risks with twins, and the closer the two babies are in size, the better. When I get an ultrasound, and I hear my babies are less than 2 percent different in size, for example, I breathe a sigh of relief. I repeat to myself over and over again: "They are OK. I am OK. Their sizes are OK."

So, when someone tells me I'm too small or doesn't believe I'm carrying twins, it's soul crushing.

There is so much anxiety, so much worry that I will lose one or both of the babies, so much concern wondering if they will deliver early and spend weeks in the NICU.

Sure, strangers couldn't possibly know how many times I've clutched my husband's hand as my doctor does an ultrasound, hoping beyond hope that both babies are growing, that they both aren't running out of room, that they both have made strides since the last appointment.

Saying I'm too small, saying I better start eating more or saying I should check and make sure that I really do have two in there feels like a slap in the face.

It makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong as a mother, despite my fight and my efforts every single day to do everything right. Instead of that compliment you thought you gave me, I am now even more worried about my babies and will count the days or maybe even the seconds until I can see them on ultrasound again to make sure they are OK.

Our Culture & Size

I thought we as an American culture had an infatuation with skinny celebrities. Please correct me if I'm wrong because I'm confused. Aren't we supposed to be living in some sort of contradictory state, both hating magazines for airbrushing their cover models and yet trying to look just like them at the same time?

When I'm not pregnant, society tells me I'm supposed to be ultra skinny, and yet when I am pregnant, I apparently don't look pregnant enough.

When will female bodies just be left alone?

Must we always be on display for everyone to see, judge, measure and discuss?

Is it really that difficult to offer a kind word to each other?

I challenge you to think and wonder: When will we be good enough just as we are?

Catherine Alford is a full-time blogger. Follow her journey at