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A Tale of Two Pregnancies

Photograph by Getty Images

With my first pregnancy, I gained over 50 pounds. What that means is that I stopped counting at 30 weeks because it was too depressing. By the time I was six months, people were stopping me in Target to say, "Whoa, you could go any day now!" And "Are you sure you don't have two in there?"

My doctor gave me gentle lectures on controlling my weight, but the truth was by six months, I had all but tamed my cravings and was drinking nothing but water and snacking only on fruit. I was taking weekly yoga classes and walking two miles every day. It didn't matter. I looked like Oompa Loompas should have been rolling me away singing.

I'm pregnant with my second child, and, like Kim Kardashian and Princess Kate, I'm due in July. I actually suspect Kate (we're on a first name basis) and I have the same due date: July 19.

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This time, I am five months pregnant, and, while I am showing, I'm nothing compared to where I was with my first. Maybe it's because I've been working out more, or because I haven't suffered from the crippling morning sickness I had with my daughter, but my weight is under control. I feel good, and no one has yet mentioned the fact that I might be Lyz plus eight in a few months. In fact, my neighbor expressed shock when I mentioned being pregnant. "You don’t look pregnant at all," she said. I almost smooched her.

While I am no Kim Kardashian apologist, I find myself more and more sympathetic of her as we simultaneously grow our spawn. Pictures of Kim's pregnant stomach have elicited rude comments about her growing her child in her butt (I was sure I was growing mine in my double chin). Meanwhile, Princess Kate recently debuted her growing maternal figure to cries of her being too thin.

What your body will do while growing your baby and how it will look is nothing anyone can predict.

As someone who's been fat pregnant and not-so-fat pregnant (I'll never be like Kate, no matter how skinny I am; I have too many Polish genes in me), I wish I could get out a bullhorn and tell everyone to just calm down. Pregnancy is out of your control. What your body will do while growing your baby and how it will look is nothing anyone can predict. But in our body-obsessed, fat-shaming culture, the pregnant body is public in a way that defies logic.

I am no princess or reality star, but during both of my pregnancies I had strangers who stopped to comment on the food I was eating or the shoes I was wearing. My coffee shouldn't have caffeine, and my heels shouldn't be that high. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, then I think the cashier at Target can legally stake a claim to my uterus.

I spent so much time worrying and obsessing over my weight during my first pregnancy that I didn't enjoy any of those nine months. This time, I vowed not to let it get to me, and I'm loving every moment of showing off my rounding belly and eating all the bacon. Why haven't I gained as much weight as before? It's anyone's guess. I asked my doctor and she said simply, "Why do you care? Grow a healthy baby—that's what you should care about."

She's right. Beyond the body snarking, the No. 1 problem with criticizing a pregnant woman's body is that you presume to know what is right for her and her child, like there is some magic formula to pregnancy and motherhood that the fat ladies are violating and the skinny ladies are doing right.

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When I was pregnant with my first, I was at a very healthy weight. I was a size six, an active runner and a healthy eater. With my second child, it was exactly the same—size six, had just run my fourth half-marathon in five years, and despite the occasional chicken nugget and Coca-Cola habit, I was fine. But the differences in pregnancy are night and day. So what gives?

I wish I knew. But even if I did, the answer for me wouldn't be the same answer for you. And the truth is no one is entitled to tell a woman how she should or should not look while she is pregnant or, for that matter, not pregnant.

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