My body no longer seems to be private property …
I recently wrote about the rapid changes I’ve noticed in my body since around week 20 of pregnancy. In the week or so since posting that, my shape has shifted again. As I reach week 24, I look less like a barrel now and more like someone with an unmistakable baby bump.
Psychologically for me, this is a very welcome development. I don’t feel too heavy or uncomfortable yet, but I do finally feel pregnant instead of a little bit fat, like I’ve over-indulged at dinner.
At the same time, my altering figure has brought out unexpected behaviour from other people and a crossing of normal, non-pregnant, social boundaries that I’m still trying to get used to. Namely:
1 – Constant commentary on my size
2 – Being greeted belly first, including hands-on bump fondling
“You’re getting heavier!”
This is just one example of the daily remarks I receive. Some others are more sensitive: “you’re getting a lovely bump,” “your bump is really showing now,” etc.
I don’t want to be a killjoy. I love that people are excited and want to interact – as I’ve said before, pregnancy can really bring out the best in others – but how am I expected to respond?! In usual circumstances if I was repeatedly told how big I was getting, I’d swing between wanting to punch the person in the face, or run off and cry. Now, the appropriate response seems to be “yes, I’m really growing!” along with a smile that re-assures them that progressively turning into a whale is the best thing in the world and I’m so happy that you’ve pointed it out.
Maybe I need to work on a broader, more entertaining, repertoire of response. Like:
“Actually, I’m just eating a lot.”
“You too! It must be catching.”
My face is this way
I’m noticing an increasing tendency for people I greet to make fleeting eye contact – the usual, accepted form of interaction – and then flip immediately to staring at my belly.
If this isn’t weird enough, a number of people are combining that with an unsolicited bump fondle. That’s right – rushing arms out-stretched towards my belly for a feel without so much as a “do you mind if I touch you up a bit?”
I can get past this with family and close friends. We’ve crossed many personal boundaries with each other many times. But relative strangers? Really?! Last week it was my office cleaner. We occasionally have some awkward chat, but we’re not yet on first-name basis. But, I stood up from my desk to pack up my things and she noticed my tell-tale bump.
Eyes me up suspiciously: “Are you pregnant?”
“Yes! – 22 weeks.” (I nod and smile enthusiastically, let her know I’m happy about it)
Then, with no more conversation, she rushes in, hot soapy hands outstretched, for a good feel of my belly. What the hell? What am I meant to do in these situations? It was only a few seconds, but I felt very strange. Should I say, get your hands off?! Should I rub theirs in return? I’m completely confused.
All I’ve worked out is there’s a small number of ‘welcome’ and larger number of ‘not welcome’ situations.
- Close family and friends. And husband, of course. And midwife. And our dog.
- People who ask if it’s ok first
- Every situation that falls outside the two bullet points above
Maybe I should just take to wearing this t-shirt:
Have you had similar experiences? How do you deal with the comments or unwelcome touching? Or, is it all just part of pregnancy?