CBS3 meteorologist Katie Fehlinger, who was pregnancy-shamed last summer, returns to the airwaves on Wednesday. Her twin girls are here, and she's looking as fabulous as ever.
How ya like me now?
I wish that's what she would say to all the haters and fat-shamers who bullied her when she was hugely pregnant with twins.
I'd like to see the face of that obnoxious TV viewer who called her a "sausage in a casing" when Fehlinger shows up on air Wednesday morning, looking as fabulous as ever. Who's she going to pick on now?
And what about that jerk who contacted Fehlinger around the same time to tell her that "sticking your pregnant abdomen out like that is disgusting"? What will he have to say next?
Fehlinger really went through it. It got so bad that she took to Facebook on Aug. 19 to address her critics head-on, writing: "Frankly, I don't care how 'terrible' or 'inappropriate' anyone thinks I look. I will gladly gain 50 pounds & suffer sleepless, uncomfortable nights if it means upping my chances to deliver 2 healthy baby girls."
Her posting went viral. News sites including People, Britain's Daily Mail, NBC's "Today" show and Yahoo Parenting picked up the story, as commenters from all over weighed in on issues including her taste in maternity wear (too tight, some thought) while others claimed that they vomited their breakfast when Fehlinger's distended belly appeared on their TV screens.
It was bad.
After the Daily News put Fehlinger on its front page, I was inundated with emails from readers who found the mere sight of her pregnant belly distasteful. One guy wrote, "I saw the blimp on the cover of Saturday's paper and was looking for the Goodyear or Met Life logo. She should have been off the air three months ago."
Women weren't as bad, but they had a lot to say, too. A female commenter on Philly.com said, "Yes, pregnancy is beautiful . . . But what's the deal with these tight, stretchy fabrics that DO make women look like boa constrictors right after a hefty meal?" It was like the 1950s all over again.
Although Fehlinger got many messages of support (her initial Facebook post had attracted 99,224 'likes' as of last night), a less-open-minded segment thought that Fehlinger needed to hide until her babies were born. Girlfriend wasn't going to do that.
"I have a mortgage to pay. I've got to work. I wanted to have as much of the 12 weeks that I was going to get off to spend with my girls," Fehlinger told me yesterday during a phone interview. "I didn't want to go off the air early just because somebody didn't like the way I looked. If the doctor said I was healthy enough to work and be on television, I was going to do it until the last possible second."
"I wasn't being defiant," she added. "It was more, 'If I take any time off, I'm going to lose it with them. That starts my 12 weeks and I only get 12 weeks.' "
I'm happy to report that now the fat-shamers can relax in their recliners and enjoy their breakfasts again without fear of regurgitating at the sight of Fehlinger's pregnant belly. She gave birth to Parker Janice and Kaeden Faye "fashionably early" on Aug. 26.
Fehlinger, who had gained 50 pounds, has since shed most of her baby weight and is looking fabulous, thanks to workouts on P90X, the home-workout DVD. Also, breastfeeding preemies every couple of hours burns a lot of calories. But going back to work after just three months off, won't be easy for the first-time mother.
"They're not sleeping through the night just yet. We're still doing the zombie shuffle at least once a night," Fehlinger told me. "My husband and I sort of split the duties there. We're both pretty tired in that way. But things are going well."
Most days, she has to be at the station by 3:30 a.m., but on the flip side, she'll be back home by 1 p.m. For now, her husband, an ad strategist for Accuweather who works from home, will care for the twins while she's working.
I don't envy her.
Fehlinger will be under a lot of scrutiny, especially in this age of celebrity post-baby body-flaunting. But Heidi Klum, who returned to a Victoria's Secret runway six weeks after giving birth to her fourth child, is a freak of nature. You can't put those kinds of expectations on real-life working moms. It's just not fair.
But people do all the time - which is what led to Fehlinger's being pregnancy-shamed when all she wanted was to do her job.
On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong