The Mother Side / Poems  / Vessels


I remember when I was pregnant for the first time,

Feeling anxious, it was early days, my clothes were feeling tight,

If you looked closely you could notice my bump,

But I had been doing well covering it up,

So I thought no one at work had noticed,

But then one day when I was in the office,

A busybody colleague walked up, curious,


Are you ‘carrying?’ He asked as he pointed at my bump,

I felt a wave of anger wash over me, in my throat I felt a lump,

I wanted to tell him that it was none of his fucking business,

And that I wasn’t ready to tell,

And when I was, he would be the last person as well


But I was caught off guard and I froze,

While he continued to stare,

And I couldn’t think what to say,

So instead I just mumbled ‘yeah’,

‘I knew it!’ He declared – ‘I could just tell’,

Then he scurried off to share his gossip with the world,


And obviously THEN I thought of a million ways to respond,

But the moment was gone,

I felt violated, I felt robbed,

My heart was pounding – I wanted to sob,

Was I over-reacting?

No, fuck that. He was wrong, 

And he didn’t even seem to care,

That I might not have been ready to share,


What if I miscarried? What if I’d already experienced a loss?

What if I couldn’t have kids?

What if I didn’t want kids?

It’s like society sees our baby-making progress as public knowledge,

And these questions are only seen as acceptable,

Because the patriarchy sees women as baby-making vessels,


It’s like we suddenly become public property,

When we reach ‘baby making age’ or when we marry,

Our privacy is not respected, 

Our bodies are not our own,

And it is time this shit stopped,

It is time we moved on,


So busybody colleagues, strangers in the street,

Stop asking women if they are pregnant,

Stop asking when we will have kids

Stop commenting on the size of our bumps – NO we’re not having twins,

Stop touching our bumps without our permission,

Stop treating us like a public exhibition,

Stop body shaming us and talking about baby weight,

Reinforcing the patriarchal bullshit that women need to look a certain way,


Pregnant women are not public property,

Our baby-making progress is not for you to know,

And what goes on in our wombs is nobody’s business but our own.


© Zoë Tolman – The Mother Side

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