While I have an incredibly supportive, wonderfully attentive partner, I've come to the conclusion that there are things my partner can’t understand about being pregnant in public. To be fair, there are things I didn’t understand about being pregnant in public, either, and until I actually was. Some things, for lack of a better phrase, are only learned by doing.
Sure, at various other stages of life I've had to deal with the general public while being self-conscious for any number of reasons, and I can't always say those instances were pleasant. I found pregnancy to be on a whole new level, though. I’ve joked before that it’s like wearing a sign that says something along the lines of, “Strangers, please talk to me about my body” or, "By all means, don’t hold back your opinions about how uncomfortable this is for me.”
Like you might imagine, being pregnant and simultaneously existing in society has given me plenty of opportunities to haul myself and my bump around outside of my comfortable house. As much as I’d like to be hibernating, I can’t help but continually grace my town with my presence as I run errands and get things done. Oh, and by “grace with my presence” I mean “stagger around and try to draw as little attention to myself as possible."
Try as he might, my partner will just never quite understand how it feels to consistently deal with the following:
The Constant Doting From People Older Than Me
Apparently there’s a stage of life when we’ll all feel maternal towards soon-to-be mothers we don't actually know. I’ve certainly not reached that phase, but I think half my town has, because I get a lot of gentle smiles and “bless your heart” looks from ladies one to two generations older than me. I try to respond in kind, but even that can be tricky depending on how hungry I am or how badly I need a bathroom in that particular moment.
The Unsolicited Comments
Shout-out to the checkout lady at the grocery store who greeted me with a chirpy, “You look uncomfortable!” last week. The reason I look uncomfortable is because I am uncomfortable. Good talk.
The Unsolicited Advice
At the same aforementioned grocery store, I had a lady also warn me against having kids at a certain age, an age which happens to be just around the corner for me. Perhaps I should be flattered that she assumed I’m younger than I actually am, but mostly it was just awkward.
Most of the seemingly endless questions I field while in public are harmless. You know, like the when am I due, do I know what I’m having, and is this my first type of inquiries that generally come from a well-intentioned place. But one person’s harmless attempt at small talk is another person’s 50th time repeating the same answers to the same questions.
I get it; people like babies and they like pregnant woman because we’re having babies, but the sheer frequency of these questions make me want to order all my groceries online.
The Constant Fear Of Wardrobe Malfunctions
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need more caftans in my life. Caftans, muumuus, and long, flowing cardigans that, from a distance, look like the robes from The Handmaid’s Tale. These are the only clothing items I can trust now.
The Honed Bathroom Radar
I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, or what you did as long as you understand that I can find a bathroom faster than you in any given public space.
The Feels Associated With Doing Stereotypical “Pregnant Lady” Things
I’ve been really into frozen yogurt lately, guys. Like, really into. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), one of those “add your own toppings” fro-yo places is walking distance from our home. Not that I’m doing any extra walking these days, but that also translates to like a 45-second car ride. Every time I’m there, despite the fact that no one’s said anything remotely inappropriate or invasive, I feel like I’m a stereotypical pregnant lady, eating ice cream and candy.
Yes, I know there’s a difference between fro-yo and ice cream, but I know what people are thinking. Stop looking at me, people. I swear, I only put berries in it (this time).
Trying To Function Normally While Your Baby Cartwheels Into Your Bladder
To be fair, it was much worse when I worked in an office and I had to sit through meetings and phone calls while my then-unborn-son bumped around with more flare than Zac Efron in High School Musical 2 (which is, yes, the epitome of flare, in case you were wondering). Although, now that I work from home, these moments outside the house feel even more significant. They leave me perplexed and confused and in awe of pregnant women who spend more time away from the house than I do. You all are the true heroes.