In what world, I ask you, is the aforementioned comment okay? You would have thought, “Nowhere,” right? Wrong. Apparently, said comment is completely kosher in the World of the Pregnant Woman.
As I’ve noted numerous times, yes, currently, there is a little girl-in-progress inhabiting my midsection, and I’m delighted about it. And, this being almost 31 weeks into the pregnancy, said midsection is expanding. As it should, by the way–there’s a human being in there! Kid needs some elbow room!
So I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m usually a small person (5’2), or if people I don’t even know harbor ill-feelings toward me, but I seem to trigger a bizarre case of Tourrette’s in many people I run into in the course of my day. These people feel the need to inform me that I am pregnant, first of all (who knew??), but also to do it in a way that seems to be more about incredulity at my size and less about taking into account that there is a person attached to this belly who may not relish random remarks about her girth.
I remember, back in the long-ago day when I wasn’t pregnant, when the way I looked could go without comment from strangers…and if people did comment, it would be to say something nice. If you’re not pregnant, you probably don’t appreciate this, but maybe you should. If you’re not pregnant, I implore you, take the time to wander through a supermarket, a mall or some other thoroughfare and just think about how people interact with you. Relish the fact that, unless they are saying something complimentary (“You look terrific!”), for the most part, no one is commenting on your body (perhaps construction workers excepted). Oh, also go and buy yourself a nice, normal pair of pants or sundress that doesn’t look like a muu muu. Because you can!
Things are different for us preggos. In the course of my average day, I get at least four comments about my appearance, from totally random people whose opinions I’m not sure I’d actively solicit in regular life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it–I’m a short girl with a big belly. You notice me. You don’t want to go through a revolving door with me. Comprende.
But let’s just stop for a second and think about the weirdness of societal mores. When I see someone who is sporting a serious case of plumber’s butt at the supermarket, for example, do I say something to that person along the lines of, “Wow, your butt is practically exploding out of your pants!” Or when I see someone with a big birthmark all over their face, do I go out of my way to mention, “Hey–you have a huge birthmark on your face!”
Answer to both, in case you were curious: no. No, I don’t. Because even though your butt or your birthmark are hard not to notice, I am part of a social contract which says that whether I know you or not, I don’t want to make you feel self-conscious, awkward or in any way embarrassed.
And yet suddenly, the social contract no longer applies to me. When you’re pregnant, manners be damned–everyone suddenly contracts a case of verbal diarrhea. Random people comment on your size, just how big you are corresponding to how many weeks pregnant you are, and the likelihood that, despite the fact that you go to the doctor so much that you have a “regular” parking place, you may have missed the fact that you have not one, but possibly seven, babies inside of you.
“You’re really starting to look fat!” my sister’s babysitter said to me the other day. “Thank you,” I responded, pretending not to speak English.
“Your belly is so big!” a colleague told me. “I know,” I replied. “All those ab exercises aren’t working for shit.”
Random bathroom-goer: “Wow, you are seriously pregnant…like, not a little pregnant. A LOT pregnant! How pregnant are you?” Me: “I’m due in July.” Random bathroom-goer: (pause) “Oh…well, I guess that’s not THAT far away.”
Don’t worry about me, though: this pregnant skin is thick, like my middle. I get my hostility at such remarks out quite easily, taking it out on other random innocents. One of my favorite pregnancy pastimes is ordering people out of their seats on the subway or the bus. “You. Yeah, you, the guy with the New York Times. Preggo in the house. Let’s go.” Fine, I haven’t actually DONE that yet. But any day now.