I am pregnant again and like every pregnancy before this one, I am big bellied and nine months pregnant.
Without fail, everywhere I go people ask me when I am due, or how far along I am (even though many don’t remember how many weeks are in a typical pregnancy or how many months make up a pregnancy), or if I am having a boy or a girl (with some offering up their “knowledge” on the matter based on how they perceive I am carrying), and if I am excited.
A few even (rudely) ask me if I am sure there is only one in there, to which I reply, “Well, not this time, but I did have twins before!”
Others swear I have dropped or that I haven’t yet. A small few of these stranger reach out their hand, quickly rub my protruding belly, and tell me congratulations and good luck.
You know that if I wasn’t pregnant, these strangers wouldn’t say a word to me, right?
I have literally had people shout “When you due?” from 20 or more feet away. No hello or introduction, just straight up curiosity so intense that they felt the need to shout across the street or checkout aisle to a stranger about her baby bump.
You know they wouldn’t do that about a stranger’s hair color, choice of clothing, piercings, tattoos, or other physical trait loudly and without proper introduction from 20 feet away!
There is something so dynamic about pregnant women: complete strangers find it completely appropriate to ask them questions about themselves, their progeny, their birth plans, and even to physically touch their abdominal area.
Most people wouldn’t even think to do something so personal if you weren’t with child. A “Sorry” and “Excuse Me” is frequently whispered for barely, even accidentally, brushing shoulders with another human being. For a stranger to purposefully, intimately, touch another stranger screams of inappropriateness.
Many pregnant women are bothered by this, hate it in fact. But, I’m not one of them.
I am not an overly touchy-feeling or affectionate individual, but I don’t have a personal space bubble issue either. Someone rubbing my belly doesn’t send me running for the hills because they invaded my physical privacy.
However, I am not exactly asking people to touch my belly either, even if it doesn’t necessarily bother me. Most people you meet aren’t belly rubbers, and most that touch my belly do actually know me.
It can seem strange, alarming, when a stranger, male or female, touches a pregnant woman’s belly. It makes you wonder what would possess someone to do such a thing!
I know why though. I firmly believe they are doing it because they want to connect with new life or to memories of their own pregnancies, children or grandchildren.
I fear the day when we as a society stop being excited to see and touch a pregnant woman.
Thank God above that people are excited about new life, about babies, about pregnancy and childbirth! Praise Jesus that people still see value in families and babies and want to go out of their way to congratulate you, talk to you, ask you questions, offer advice, and to touch and feel the life within your womb.
This is a good thing people! Strangers aren’t just being nosy. Sure, some people can be rude with their comments (“You’re huge! You look like you’re ready to burst! You look miserable!”) but rude or not, they feel this urge, this compelling innate desire to say something, whether or not that something leaves them with their foot in their mouth. There is something wonderful about seeing pregnant women. Call it their glow or what have you, but they really do draw eyes and thoughts to them.
I know that no matter where I go right now, people are looking at me. You can’t miss the fact that I am pregnant (and toting around three other children beside). There is literally no need to ask that “should-never-be-asked-of-a-woman” question of “Are you pregnant?” It’s blatantly obvious in my case. And everyone I see gives me this vibe that they are dying to ask me questions like “When are you due?” or “Is this your first?”
I choose to embrace the attention, not because I’m self-absorbed, or because I think I am just the cutest pregnant woman ever (though strangers have told me I’m a cute pregnant woman, carry well, and look great – all comments I’m happy to receive, especially when I feel like a whale at the moment), or because I love talking about all things pregnancy-related.
No, I take the attention because it connects me with humanity again. I am no longer that nameless, faceless, person passing another nameless, faceless person in the grocery store, library, or park. Now I am the bringer of life, a mother, a child bearer – a woman that all people everywhere can connect to in some way or another, as all of us have been begotten from a woman’s womb. A pregnant woman is the great unifier of society, one that is revered and respected and treated with extra care.
The attention will end soon enough, and life will return to its sad normal of seeing other people, but not actually meeting them, an ignored life where people I don’t know no longer shout to get my attention so they can talk to me.
I embrace the questions, conversations, and even invasion of privacy and personal space, because I know it’s good. It’s good to talk to one another! It’s great to know others are excited about babies. It’s wonderful to be curious about the gift of life and the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. It’s fantastic for people to take special interest in you and your life even if they don’t know you.
Most aren’t doing it be a creeper, but because they just can’t help themselves! We, pregnant women, are a sacred spectacle, and one that should not be ignored.
So, go ahead and ask me when I am due and rub my belly too. I won’t mind one bit.