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?”
“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.
Instead, I do the polite thing and tell them I am having a boy. He is due November 11th. And that whatever choices I make will be private. Then I give the person my patented squinty-eyed smile to indicate that the conversation is finished. The whole thing is fucking exhausting too. I like to pretend I must be burning even more calories by enduring the process. As though for every foolish idiot who wants to “do the thing” (as I mentally call it), I have the opportunity to lose some calories by listening to them go on with their little narrative.
I just really don’t care what folks think, or what info they feel is crucial to impart. In fact, I want to get in my car as soon as possible, and GTFO of the public eye. I can see why some women shut themselves away for certain stages of pregnancy…though I imagine it might not have all been about personal choice. I would prefer to have this be a highly private experience.
But then the question I ask myself is: “if I want it to be a private experience, why do I write about it?” This is an excellent question. To my mind, there is distance in the written word. I can think about what I want to say, how I want to frame my thoughts, and no one is watching my facial expression as to ensure I coo at the appropriate moments or smile where appropriate. Maybe a lack of pep is the issue? I’m not chipper enough? Chipper is tough to fake.
What the fuck, people? Not everyone is into the expressive-thing. It’s not the end of the world. We are excited, but it just looks different: not gushy, not squishy, just mellow, relaxed, maybe a bit more reserved. Just treat us like Canadians.