I was fully grown by age 13. Most everyone around me continued to sprout taller for another five years, but I just sprouted wider. In fact, one of my Chanukah gifts in fifth grade was a training bra… not scarring at all. Being 5 feet tall as an adult rarely had advantages and it definitely caused some issues as I entered motherhood. There are struggles every short pregnant woman just knows, and if you’ve ever shopped in the kids section for yourself, I’m sure you’re feeling me right now.
The world has not been made for people of less than average height. I definitely have very little to complain about compared to those shorter than me, though. From navigating steps to reaching the car pedals, I can only imagine what an obstacle it is for people smaller than me to commute for their jobs. So my grievances about the world being too big for me — literally — are definitely not as serious as the grievances of others.
Still, it’s so frustrating having to reach beyond my comfort level to get food out of the microwave. While pregnant, I profoundly felt all the physical changes of growing a new person. My small body miraculously expanded to accommodate the growth of my fetus, so my pregnancy was so much more obvious than that of taller women. In my third trimester, I would regularly see my kid’s feet pressing up against the confines of my uterus. I was bursting at the seams, and my kid wasn’t even that big (she was 6.5 pounds at birth).
So for all those short pregnant women struggling to grab whatever it is you need on that shelf that is inconsiderately too high for you, I have been there. Here are some struggles short women like me have probably experienced, with as much dignity and grace as we can muster, while being spoken to like a middle schooler:
Our Waddle Is More Pronounced
I have short legs and carrying myself around late in the trimester must have looked pretty ridiculous for anyone walking behind me. Lucky for them, they never let on if they found my duck gait amusing.
We May Appear To Carry Very Small…
All the women in my family, and my husband’s family, are on the short side, so I didn’t expect to grow big kids. My husband was about 10 pounds at birth, though, so I was terrified our newborn would be that size. Our little girl was indeed little, like her mom,like her mom and grandmas and great-grandmas, so at least I had that going for me.
… Or Very Big
With my second child, who was only about .5 pound bigger at birth than his older sister, I appeared to be tremendous. Really, though, my pregnant belly was pretty average. It was an illusion, because on someone who is only a shade over 5 feet tall, a pregnant middle just appears to take over more of our short bodies.
Maternity Clothes Never Fit Us Correctly
Few brands make petite maternity clothes (and I realize that it’s is an oxymoron to call them as such), so the options were to buy oversized clothes in the petite section, or repurpose the maternity skirts as full-length dresses. I’m so thankful I never had to get very dressed up during either of my pregnancies.
Hopping Up On That Exam Table Is A Thing
It’s hard enough to hoist yourself onto the exam table during OB-GYN visits when you’re pregnant and average height, so it’s nearly impossible to do so at my abbreviated height. I gave up all hope of getting on there gracefully, as I turned a chair into a makeshift step stool to climb up.
Being Called "Cute" Feels Especially Weird
It’s bad enough to feel like a perpetual child because of my shortness, but it starts to feel downright creepy when people still refer to me as “cute” when I’m pregnant. I felt, at different times, powerful, sexy, mushy, anxious, gross, sad, and ecstatic. I did not feel cute.
No One Gives Us Enough Space
I have to fight to be seen regularly since I stand well below eye-level (unless you’re a fourth grader). I’m a New Yorker, so that also means I have to fight for every square inch on the sidewalk and subway, especially since I’m usually outside someone’s typical view. When I was pregnant, this issue became more pronounced, because I wanted to make sure there was a protective bubble of space around my midsection. Commuting in rush hour was a nightmare.
We Have To Graze All Day Long
I can’t speak to a taller woman’s experience, but all my organs getting squished by my growing uterus in my compact body made eating more than a small amount at one sitting very uncomfortable. So I just grazed, all day, always worried where I’d be in two hours and if there’d be food there.
Reaching Inside The Crib Is An Event Of Olympic Proportions
I was so excited when my family helped us put the crib together in the weeks before our daughter was born. Suddenly it was official: our house was about to welcome a baby. And then I went to practice putting a baby in a crib, and I couldn’t reach. Not only did my height make it so that I had to stand on tiptoe to get my hands to touch the mattress, but my pregnant belly got in the way of getting any closer to the crib.
This led to me planting step stools all over the house — by the crib, the changing table, and in the kitchen to reach the shelf where I had to stash my pump parts. “Who moved my stool?” I’d yell (at the only other person who could have moved it, since it was just my husband and me and a newborn in the apartment). I couldn’t do a thing without those steps.