Yeah, it is magical. How that baby just swells up the whole midsection of a woman, how that hovering melon just floats there against all concepts of architecture. Shouldn’t there be some flying buttresses reinforcing that protruding curve? I know it’s funny. Heck, I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and just laugh, turning this way and that. I smile at how my friends and family greet me, first in the eyes and then focusing on my rounded tum in quick succession, giving it a greeting of it’s own (patting, oohing-and-aahing, exclamations of wonder). That is all fine and good.
But dear stranger who doesn’t even know my name, it is you I address. Unless you’re a painfully cute elderly person who looks a bit lonely and nostalgic, I don’t really want to have the following repartees with you:
you: Woah! You look ready to POP!
me: HAHA (forced laugh, accompanied by a flat smile)…yeah.
You sir, or madam, have just made me feel like a ticking time bomb. And a spectacle to be laughed at. I’m just trying to buy some groceries in peace, okay?
you: When is your due date?
me: December 25th.
you: (wide-eyed and smiling big enough for me to see your fillings) OOOHHHHHH! A CHRISTMAS BABY!!! How SPECIAL!
me: Mmm-hmm, I’m like a walking nativity scene. (Because I have these lines I say now. It’s easier to fall back on their deadpan humor than to think in real time.)
you: OH-HAHA! Do you know what you’re having?
me: (again falling back on previous wit) No…once we knew the due date we knew we couldn’t peek at our Christmas present. (Why am I being funny? It only encourages them!).
you: (discusses merits of finding out or not finding out and tells me of every infant born in your acquaintance recently)
me: (simultaneously thinking that I’m done going out in public, having had this exact conversation five times in one grocery store)
I JUST WANT TO BUY SOME GROCERIES AND GET MY HUGE SELF HOME TO MY DEAR COUCH.
So, dear strangers everywhere, here’s my guide to interacting with the heavily pregnant in your local grocery store, church, post office, etc:
1. Smile a smile of solidarity. Give a thumbs up sign if you must.
2. Pick up anything she drops. Because even if it’s her car keys, she’s weighing whether it’s worth it bending down that low to retrieve it.
3. Let her into line ahead of you or open the door for her. Rare is the ardent feminist who would take offense.
4. Do not initiate any of the above conversations. She’s probably using all of her mental powers to avoid a blatant waddle or peeing her pants when she sneezes.
5. Clamp your teeth on your tongue whenever it wants to say anything about the amazing proportions she’s sporting. She knows. Oh, she knows.
Most of my friends dread going out in public the last weeks of their pregnancies; they cannot bear one more good-natured exclamation and bit of fawning curiosity. It’s not that we’re curmudgeons, we’re just trying to make it through the day while a watermelon-sized ball weighs us down. We look and feel awkward and we run the gauntlet of rubber-necking strangers who feel duty-bound to remind us of that.
So, dear stranger, now thoroughly equipped with the above five rules of engagement with the heavily pregnant, go forth and say no more! 🙂