• Mon, Nov 26 2012

Just Because I’m Pregnant Doesn’t Mean I Want To Talk About It With Strangers

You know baby-people, right? The google-y-eyed folks who actually enjoy the melted-chocolate-in-the diaper game at baby showers? Or maybe they just coo at every kid under three in the supermarket, and make smiley eyes at every lady sporting a bump. Whatever their motivation, I’m not into it. In fact, I’m not only NOT a baby-person, I am decidedly quite introverted, particularly in highly public spaces.

I don’t really want to engage with strangers. If that makes me a bit of an asshole, I can live with that. Now, here in the Northeast, this is par for the course. Making eye contact with people on public transit has to be done quickly and politely, or assumptions might be made. You could be packing heat, awaiting an opportunity to instagram up my skirt, or just plain out of your gourd. Eye contact is only the beginning: I do not talk to unfamiliar people in public. I just loathe small talk, and every single time someone in line at Target wants to chat me up about my magazine selection, I will literally switch lines to avoid it.

So, when I became pregnant and the belly began to become noticeable, I was taken quite off-guard by the sheer number of completely strange women and men who felt it was completely natural to talk to me about it. Buying light bulbs at the hardware store is no longer a routine procedure; rather, it is an opportunity to hear about Kathy’s friend Johnny’s friend Bette who lost her baby (but YOU’LL BE FINE! You like your doctor, right?). Or worse, the major oversharer who will go into extraordinary detail as they chronicle exactly what substance covers an infant exiting her mother’s womb. Yeah, I got that from a waitress recently just before she took my brunch order. No, I am not joking, and I thank my lucky stars I have enough hormones pumping through me that I was able to still make my waffle selection without losing my wolverine-like desire to eat.

What bothers me the most is that my bump, for better or for worse, has somehow become a conversation piece. And…that feels kind of gross. To me, spouting random mumbo-jumbo to strange people is a waste of time, and what is going on south of my boobs is kind of personal to me. Imagine! I live in a strange and bizarre land in which my body is not everyone else’s business. That doesn’t sound familiar at all now, does it? And no matter how hard I avert my eyes to the smiling granny or the cooing teenager, they always see me, always want to make eye contact, and discuss it.

Sometimes I like to fantasize that I tell these folks to take a hike. In my mind, the conversation would go so much differently, if only I wasn’t trying to be polite:

“So, what are you having?”

“Puppies. Six of them. Well, there’s a runt, but I’m not holding out much hope there.”

“When are you due?”

“When the baby comes, jackass.”

“Boy or girl?”

“Ninja.”

“Are you considering breast-feeding/circumcision/c-section/epidural/other equally intrusive question?”

“Are you considering a boob job/liposuction/ass implants?”

Something like that.

Share This Post:
  • Ava

    This narcissistic, petty, self-involved cow must lead a pretty charmed life if all she has to complain about is how horrible it is when people show interest in the miracle of life that she is participating in. Oh my god, poor you, you had to interact with someone! If this is how you react when people are friendly, I can imagine your reaction to actual rudeness.
    I hope you get over yourself in time for your child’s arrival.

    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique Véronique Houde

      umm… name-calling? was that really necessary? It seems a bit immature to start bullying someone for their opinion. So, she’s introverted and doesn’t want to talk about her belly. Why does that offend you?

    • meteor_echo

      Someone is wearing a crocheted wool thong that is two sizes small today!~

    • http://twitter.com/DuchessCadbury The Right Honourable

      That was really rude and uncalled for. It’s her body, why should she have to glad hand everyone who makes a comment? I have large breast, and that doesn’t invite men or women to stare or chat with me about them. Of course she ought to feel uncomfortable when some stranger starts rubbing her baby. I’d feel icky too if some stranger started rubbing my breast (mind you, it’s happened). Yes, she’s pregnant, yes it’s amazing, women have been pregnant for billions of years. Everyone has a story. Let her be and move on.

    • once upon a time

      The name calling was unnecessary but I agree with the gist. It’s a big bad world out there and the author’s taking the time to pen a two freaking page bitch about people taking an interest in her pregnancy? I think I want your life if that’s the hardest thing you have deal with.

    • parkwood1920

      Pregnant women are not obligated to entertain the “interest” (read: creepy fetishism) of random strangers about their bodies and pregnancies. If you and other misogynists of your ilk don’t like it, tough.

    • lea

      “show interest in the miracle of life that she is participating in”

      It sounds like you might be one of them. Those people who seem to think that as soon as a woman is pregnant, or even after, that she and her child are public property.

      I think what the OP described IS “actual rudeness”. I don’t think it is polite to engage a stranger in conversation about something so personal. You can be all smiley and gushy and friendly and still be rude.

    • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

      Hit a little close home did it? Maybe the author just considers that she is “having a baby” and no participating in the “miracle of life.” (Gag) Also, even you said it is something SHE is participating in; complete strangers have no business asking about ANY medical or otherwise personal topics, pregnancy is NO exception.

    • LoveyDovey

      Wow. sure you disagree but why would you insult her?

      And I totally get her! I *hated* people getting in my business with my second child, and the closer I got to my due date with her the worse it got. I told my husband that with the next one I’m living in a cave until they’re born, and I’m only half kidding!

      People just lose their shit around a pregnant woman and I just don’t get it. Sure, congrats, when am I due, etc., but I don’t want advice on inducing labor, or even worse, comments about my size in relation to the EDD!

  • Justme

    I get where you’re coming from. I’m not a big fan of small talk with strangers – it actually can cause me a lot of anxiety and stress. I also wasn’t an over-the-moon pregnant woman and hated being identified as simply…….a pregnant woman. I still thought of myself as ME – a teacher, coach, wife, daughter, sister, friend, reader, volleyball player, dog rescuer etc…who also happened to be pregnant.

    But unfortunately the unwarranted small talk interactions with strangers will only intensify and get judgier once your child is born. Just smile and nod.

  • bumbler

    Just grin and bear it. Society’s inherent interest in pregnant women is part of what has kept humanity going. Besides, you’ll only look pregnant for a few months. Time to put on your big mama undies and learn to cope with the reality of life in public (or become a hermit?) It’s fine to complain about it, of course, but don’t get too indignant about everyday things…

    • meteor_echo

      Ah, the nosy lady from the post about childless relatives.
      Time to learn some manners and not ask invasive questions (or don’t get too indignant that someone might try to screw your head off for asking them).

    • turtlefan

      I reject the reality of life and substitute it with my own….

  • Tea

    I feel for you, and if I could actually have children, would be in a similar boat. My partner and I are already bracing for dealing with these sort of people if we decide to adopt. I’m a social introvert myself and already get a lot of invasive and frankly stupid questions because I am gay and visually impaired with a white cane. I am aware that blind and gay are not even close to having a baby, but it brings out the busybodies.

    Your hypothetical responses also amused me greatly. I can totally understand only being able to take some questions for so long before you want to snap. Hell, I get asked how I get dressed or brush my hair. Because I have to be a good example for the community, I do not respond by looking bewildered and saying ” I just wake up like this every day.”

    I can’t fully empathize, but I can feel for you as a fellow introvert who gets asked a lot of things that are no one’s business.

  • Psych Student

    I’ve always imagined that when I get pregnant, if a stranger touches my belly without asking, I’ll tough their’s back. If they ask if they can touch, I’ll smile and reply, “only if I can touch yours”. I’ve heard stories of strangers who have touched a pregnancy bump and gave a blessing and while that rare example is very sweet, it’s acceptable to have a personal bubble. Just because someone is pregnant, that person should not have personal space invaded or be asked personal questions you wouldn’t ask other strangers.

    • meteor_echo

      Absolutely. While I’m never going to be pregnant, I outright loathe people who try to touch me patronizingly, and, if they do that, I try and touch their face. They freak out like crazy, and I have yet to see a single one of them repeat their behavior.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

    I’m totally stealing your “ninja” retort.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shelly-Lloyd/826469442 Shelly Lloyd

    When I was pregnant I didn’t mind the people asking questing like that. Though the “ninja” response was awesome. I wish I would have thought that one up just to get a laugh.

    But I absolutely hated having strangers touching my belly. OH MY GOD! Now I’m a pretty friendly easy going person. I’ll chit-chat with just about anyone about anything, but respect my personal space. I didn’t even mind the little old ladies touching and young children touching my stomach, like I said I’m pretty easy going–but middle age women and 20 year old wanting to get pregnant–I wasn’t a freaking fertility goddess. I just do not get were they think that just because you are pregnant it is ok to for them, a total stranger to lay their hands on you. They would totally freak out if I walked up to them and put my hands on their stomach. I got to where I would just smack their hands when I saw them reaching out for me. And they would act all offended, as if I had done something wrong.

  • Irony detector

    There’s something highly ironic about a woman who blogs about her pregnancy who also resents public comment on it.

    • canaduck

      I think your detector needs to be re-calibrated.

  • Scarlett

    Thank you for this post. I’m 6 months preg. and feel the same way. I’m still not a ‘baby person’. I’m still hiding the fact that I’m pregnant in public. The first 4 months I was pregnant people at work just thought I gained weight. (Is it odd that I prefer people to think of me as ‘fat’ rather than pregnant? Hmm.)
    I HATE when people ask me ‘how are you feeling?’.. My response is always ‘Pregnant.’ You want me to tell you about the fact that I’m feeling gassy, bloated, constantly hungry and worn down that my baby has been kicking me what seems like non stop and I’m creeped out at the fact that there is a growing/free thinking human inside of me kicking and punching (in what my mind thinks) to escape from my stomach like that little creature from Aliens?

    The funny thing out of all this is that I’m fun loving goof ball (not some mean bitch) I just prefer NOT to be touched. It’s awkward. I’ve also picked up the 6th sense of someone raising their hand towards my belly… With out breaking a stride in my conversation , i take a step back, look in their eyes and say ‘please don’t’ and continue with the conversation like nothing happened (no need to create a pause). Due people really think it’s OK to randomly touch someone without permission?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.michaels.79 Amanda Michaels

      You know, I totally understand not wanting to be touched. I have a thing about personal space so I hated when people would touch me during my pregnancy without permission. But, if you think that is bad, just wait until your baby is born. You are innocently walking through the grocery store with your baby because you just really need to see something outside of the four walls of your house when someone (in my case, usually an older woman) reaches out and touches your brand new baby. It used to annoy me because 1) I don’t know where your hands have been and 2) I am an overprotective mother trying to keep my baby from getting sick. It finally got to the point where I would move my cart as soon as I saw the person raise their hand and ask them not to touch my child. It may be rude, but not near as rude as touching someone’s kid without their permission. Now, cooing and commenting, I can handle all day long. Even when I was pregnant it didn’t bother me, but please people fight the urge to touch a pregnant woman or a little baby. Its just basic politeness.

  • lowar

    A good non-confrontational trick is to wear earbuds whenever possible– evn if they go into your pocket and aren’t connected to anything. It may appear socially less than graceful to walk around the grocery store with headphones in, but I sometimes find it a good trade-off especially when I need to get things done and don’t have time to stop and engage with someone who sees my belly as a conversation piece.

    Another, more aggressive trick is to just start making things up whenever people ask you questions. Have fun, go wild with it, as though you are writing a novel adn you are the pregnant lady in the novel. “I’m a surrogate” “it’s due tomorrow but my rich husband just left me for a man” “I’m having a hermpaphrodite” “I don’t have a due date or a doctor” “it’s past due but I’m flying to Swizerland tomorrow and I really hope I don’t go into labor on the plane– I’m not allowed to say why I’m traveling to Swizerland” et cetera. It’s not as if these strangers deserve to know the truth.

  • Amanda

    Thanks for voicing what I have been feeling for months now. I really hate when people ask if this is my first. I lost my last pregnancy (twins, 5 mo gestation) so though this isn’t my first pregnancy it is (hopefully) my first child I will get to raise. I am also almost 40 and someone just acted surprised when I said that this was my first. So not only was he invading my privacy but then went on to judge.

    Yes, I know it will only get worse and I keep hoping I will develop a graceful way to end the conversation before having to engage in it.

  • Amanda Phillips

    Wow you are my twin. Also, why do people feel like it’s okay to touch me? Just because my stomach is extended and contains a fetus does not mean it is not still my freaking stomach ! Ask me, or better yet, wait for me to extend the invitation. I actually don’t mind the chit chat as much as I mind the random touching. I especially don’t like not existing while I’m pregnant. No one ever says “How are you?” Anymore, now it’s always “How are you feeling?” NOYB, that’s how.