“You’re getting big!” my neighbour yelled from his balcony across the road. He illustrated this with elaborate arm gestures that outlined what appeared to be an imaginary Michelin Man, followed by exaggerated cheek inflations.
Nice. So very nice.
Most people have a regulator that stops the brutish sentiments that come from the mind before they actually make it to the mouth. It’s there for a reason. To uphold the appropriate social norms of society thus preserving what is commonly known as the ‘relationship’.
That filter seems to mysteriously vanish around pregnant women. Yes I’m pregnant, and before you think I’m about to go all ‘My Pregnancy Weekly’ in this blog space, you need to know that is not my intention. There are just a few things I need to get off my ever-enlarging chest. So bear with me.
It’s a crazy thing, expanding. One day you wake up, look down and you can’t see your vajayjay anymore. Next it’s your ankles, and so on. People suddenly start looking at your stomach before they look at your face. It’s like your body parts are competing for attention. This was a new thing for me. Usually my boobs were the first port of call. It’s the first time in my life that my chest has played second fiddle so to speak.
And as if seeing less and less of your feet every morning isn’t enough of a reminder that you’re busy turning food into a baby, you get friendly recaps from the ‘loving’ people around you:
“You’re getting bigger by the day.”
“Wow, what happened to you? You’re huge?”
“Shoo, there’s a big baby in there!”
Suddenly, even the crassest comment, which said in any other situation might lead to a punch in the face or the beginnings of a suicide note, becomes socially ‘acceptable’.
“You’re pregnant! Oh thank goodness, I just thought you were getting fat for the winter” is another such comment I received when a colleague got wind of the news.
To be fair, it was in the early stage of my pregnancy. The awkward stage. The stage when people don’t know if you’re ‘with child’ or just eating all the pies. You can tell they’re dying to ask. They hang around just a little too long after the end of a conversation, their eyes darting from your belly to your face and the question almost falling off the tip of their tongue.
I obviously told the people I was close to. Or at least gave them the ‘go-ahead’ to ask with a little maternal pat or two on my stomach. But I let the strangers hang with their curiosity. And I told one person who did ask that I wasn’t, just to see the expression change on their face. She looked mortified.
Oh, how I laughed.
The news spread pretty rapidly as it does, and most of the reactions I received were warm and supportive. But I can’t tell you how many people asked if it was planned. And I mean first off – “Congratulations! Was it planned?” These weren’t even people I was overly friendly with. (If I had a spare ticket to a gig they would be on like page 5 of the who-should-I-give-it-to list.)
What a strange thing to ask. Especially of a 30-year-old, happily married woman.
If my rapidly growing embryo had been the result of a wild night out with one, too, many shots of tequila, set to ruin my life-long plan of one day becoming the first female president (which I had already started to resent ‘it’ for) why on earth would they think I’d want to share it – with them especially?
Fortunately, that stage is over now. The word is properly out, as is my bump. And everyone can feel comfortable knowing they can comment openly on my ever-increasing size, vociferously and without guilt. Like one such acquaintance: “Well, there’s no hiding it now, you certainly have lost your waistline.”
But these comments aren’t merely reserved for all things weight related. No, when you’re pregnant, no personal topic is off limits so I’ve discovered.
“Are you going to breastfeed?”
“How long were you trying for?”
“Are you going to have an Epidural?”
How you are physically going to bring this child into the world also seems to be on the top of everyone’s mind, even when it’s not on yours: “Are you getting that thing taken out of the sunroof, or are you pushing it out of the vag?”
Yes, your vagina’s ability to accommodate a chid the size of a watermelon gets a lot of talk time. And everyone has an opinion. Whether you want to hear it or not.
*She sighs and shrugs, rather heavily.*