These days, people love me. I suppose I should soak up the attention, since from what I’ve been told, no one will care about me after the baby comes.
I had my first stranger rub my belly on Friday night. She was a sweet, older lady who said only one word: “Baby?”
“Yup,” I said with a half smile, trying to resist the urge to touch her tummy back.
It’s an odd thing to have strangers suddenly care about your body. Men, to me, are the most awkward. “Congratulations!” yelled one as he passed on his cruiser bike. Another sat down next to me at the hospital and wanted to know all about the baby’s due date, and if I was excited, and I how I felt. This
man boy had braces on his teeth. He was practically a teen but I still asked him if he had kids, just to make him feel a little awkward. Surely there must be a reason he took so much interest in me? Nope. He just wanted to chat about my tummy.
Everyone wants to know… “How far along?” (“27 weeks!) “Boy or girl?” (“Baby girl. I win!”) “Do you have a name yet?” (Nope! And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you!”) “Have you started work on the nursery?” (“Nope, again! It’s one of about 8 million projects on the to-do list, and I’m trying not to stress about it.”)
For a while, people kept saying things like, “You are so tiny! Where is the baby?” but overnight they have started to say things like, “You are BIG! Wow!” or “You are REALLY showing.” (With emphasis on the word REALLY). To these things, I’m not sure how to respond. “Thank you?” I say tentatively. I want to tell them that no woman, pregnant or not, wants to be told she looks big, or large, or huge, or any other word like that. At least, I don’t.
Yesterday, on the way home from the women’s retreat, a lady came up to me in a bakery and said, “Excuse me, I just have to know. How far along are you?” After I responded she said, “Oh, wow. You’re just so cute, and tiny and compact.” I almost hugged her.
Compact. Suddenly, I like that word.
I’m going to admit something publicly that I’d rather keep to myself. It’s hard watching my body suddenly change. It’s hard having everyone comment on how I look, even though I know they mean well. It’s hard to listen to people tell me I should eat more (“You’re eating for two!”) when all the advice from doctors and pregnancy books says I should be soooo careful not to gain too much weight or consume too much sugar.
My changing body, combined with so much discussion from everyone, has led to a new obsession with my bathroom mirror. I find myself staring at it more than I ever have before. Sometimes I’m just watching my tummy to see if I can catch it moving in the reflection. But many times I am looking at her, at me, with scrutiny. There is no right size, but everyone seems to imply there is.
I hesitate to post this, because I’m afraid everyone who knows me, and sees me frequently, will be afraid to comment on my growing belly. That is not my intention. I know a growing belly, a growing body, is part of this great miracle. I would hate to make people feel nervous around me; as if they can’t say anything or I’ll get upset. I won’t. I promise. I know this is my own issue.
For a brief moment though, I just needed to be heard.
Am I making any sense at all?
The photo above is not me, although Jonathan thought it was. It’s an image from Flickr, and photo credit goes to mahalie.