Since the beginning of the controversy regarding Gov. Sarah Palin's pregnancy, one aspect that has been commented on continually is that her appearance last spring did not mesh with expectations of a "normal" pregnancy.
At the time of the announcement, March 5th, 2008, the news that she was expecting was regarded with utter astonishment. Although Palin claimed at the time that she had to announce the pregnancy when she did because "people were beginning to notice," and that her clothes were getting "snugger and snugger," in fact the only person who has ever stated this IS Gov. Palin. (Even the article in which Palin is quoted as saying her clothes were getting tighter has as its main theme the fact that no one - not even her staffers - suspected she was pregnant.)
And a quick digression: I have always wondered, after reading this explanation for the public acknowledgment of a pregnancy that was allegedly already in its seventh month, if no one had EVER "noticed" her clothes getting tight, at what point would Palin have announced it? It's a fair question. Or would she have just showed up with a baby one day? She seems to be implying exactly that.)
Not one person has ever come forward and stated that they even suspected Gov. Palin to be pregnant prior to March 5th, at which point she would have been – based on her own announced due date – approximately 29 weeks pregnant with her fifth child. Not one staffer, not one journalist, no one. One sole journalist, Cherie Shirrey of KTVA, within 48 hours of the controversy erupting in August, jumped to Palin's defense and claimed that she had seen Palin numerous times for interviews and "in the studio" prior to Trig's birth (implying that it was between the time of the announcement – March 5th – and the birth six weeks later) and that Palin was definitely pregnant. Here's the blog post I did about this last December. However, Palin's daily schedule (obtained under a FOIA request) for the two months prior to Trig's birth in fact shows not a single visit to this TV station's studio. I have personally written Ms. Shirrey asking her to corroborate her statement. I have inquired about the dates of these interviews, topics covered, and why no video or stills are available of any of these interviews. I have received no answer.
After the announcement of her nomination on August 29th, one photo had appeared of Gov. Palin pregnant with a previous child (prior to the alleged pregnancy with Trig in 2008.)
This photo was provided by her parents to the news media as part of a large group of family photos that were released very shortly (within a day or two) after her VP pick. Although in a couple of places it has been suggested that this is not actually Palin at all (based on the fact that frankly the woman in the photo does not seem to look much like Sarah Palin does now) neither the Palin family nor the McCain campaign retracted the photo or ever stated it was not she. This photo has been shown widely, specifically to cast doubt on whether she is Trig's mother, and has been effective in doing so. I believe that if they had been able to retract the photo by claiming that it was someone else and had been released by mistake, that they would have done so.
Her hairstyle and general appearance actually are consistent with other photos we have of her from the late eighties into the early nineties. This comparison below shows Palin, I believe, looking very much similar to the photo of her late in pregnancy.
(And, no, I have no clue at all why she is wearing a crown, so don't bother to ask.)
Although rumored to be of her late in her pregnancy with Track (in 1989), as far as I can determine that's never been confirmed. However, based on hairstyle, my guess is that the photo is either from Track's pregnancy or Bristol's pregnancy two years later (1991.) Willow was born in mid-summer, 1995, and based on the surroundings, I do not believe this to be a mid summer scene.
Regardless of the exact year, however, one thing is clear. Gov. Palin is not only pregnant, she is in this photo I would say larger than average, particularly so if this might be her first pregnancy. In precise medical terms, she's huge. This evidence of her being of certainly "normal" size (and then some) in a prior pregnancy has been largely ignored by those who support Palin. They feel comfortable ignoring this photo for one reason: we do not know "how pregnant" Palin is here. She could hypothetically be one day away from giving birth at full term, a point she never reached with Trig, who was allegedly born at 35 weeks. Palin might be, it's suggested, one of those women who just gets really big "right at the end." The picture therefore is worthless for comparison purposes, it's claimed.
And – again – whenever this is discussed, the same group of "she got big right at the end" naysayers also serenade us with plausible tales of how they themselves, (or their wives, sisters, co-workers, what have you) never looked pregnant either. Every one of these people seems to know LOTS of 110 pound women who never looked pregnant and then, miraculously, gave birth to healthy seven, eight, even nine pound children. I am sure there are exceptions to every rule, but in fact, in nearly thirty years of working with pregnant women, I have never met one who looked significantly less pregnant on a subsequent pregnancy (unless there was a very good physiological reason, such as a single pregnancy following twins) than she did on an earlier one. It just doesn't work that way. I know, you know it, Governor Sarah Palin knows it, and deep down, every Palin supporter who tries to feed us this line of bullpuckey knows it too.
Since September, I have been hoping that additional photos of Palin from a prior pregnancy would become available which would shed some additional light on this issue. Was her pregnancy with Piper, for example, as magically free of any of those pesky physical changes as her pregnancy with Trig apparently was?
I can say now that it was not. Additional photos have been found, though regrettably they are not of the best quality. We have located two photographs of her taken in late November/early December, 2000, during her pregnancy with Piper. Both are from the archives of the Frontiersman, the local newspaper for the Mat-Su Valley.
Originals are not available. We have the photos in three separate formats, copies made from microfiche (microfiche provided by the University of Alaska), Xerox copies made from the actual extant physical copies of the paper (in person at the Frontiersman offices), and digital photographs of the physical copies of the paper (also taken in person at the Frontiersman offices.) None of these methods are ideal. Yet, in both, in spite of the fuzziness of the copies, I believe she definitely looks pregnant.
Piper was born on March 22, 2001, according to this article on her projected due date. The first week of December, therefore, Sarah Palin would have been around 25 weeks pregnant. She looks, well, normal. At twenty five weeks into her fourth pregnancy. This is, fortuitously, exactly the same point of pregnancy she would have been at when these famous "Super Tuesday" photos were taken in Juneau.
Unlike many other photos of her taken in late winter / early spring 2008, where Palin seems to be determined to hide behind winter coats, trench coats, huge (and notably unattractive) floppy print scarves, tables, podiums, mannish black blazers, and her own children, these two shots are remarkably clear. She is slim-hipped and flat-chested, and, in my opinion, she shows utterly no signs of pregnancy whatsoever.
Here are the two photos. The first, dated December 1, 2000 would have been taken sometime in the prior week, so let's say between November 24th and November 30th.
The second, dated December 5, 2000, again could have been taken any point in the prior week: between November 30th and December 4th. In this second photo, Palin is holding something – I presume a coat – draped over her left arm. Here's our original:
Here's one we sharpened to try to bring up some contrast between what she is wearing and what she is holding.
Closely examining the photo shows a slightly greenish cast to the fabric in a few places. However, as the fabric falls between her body and that of the other woman it is impossible to differentiate between what she is holding and her dark clothing, due to the fact that newspaper "half tones" scan at 85 dpi, which is a very low resolution photograph to work from.
In spite of the drawbacks of these two photos, the fullness of Palin's shape – in both photos - is impossible to deny.
Palin's supporters – the "Sarah Palin had Trig because Sarah Palin would never lie" posse – have also stated that the reason Palin never looked pregnant with Trig is that in 2007-2008 she was "in the public eye" and "did not let herself go." These photos of her pregnant with Piper demonstrate this is false. Palin was in the public eye (she was mayor of Wasilla) and was also very fit (running competitively around this point in her life). How she looked with Piper in 2000-2001 should be a very good guide to how we might have expected her to look with a fifth pregnancy several years later.
Why she didn't is anyone's guess. Mine is that she was not pregnant.
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