What is it about pregnancy that allows people to ask the most bizarre, inappropriate, and rude questions? Is it to prepare for me toddler-ville?
I always heard about strangers at the grocery store rubbing someone’s belly. Up until Thanksgiving it hadn’t happened to me, so I kind of figured that it was either a myth, that people finally realized that it was inappropriate to touch a perfect stranger’s belly, or that it was just another added benefit of living up in the north. When visiting my family in North Carolina, we spent part of the day at a tiny town in South Carolina browsing antique shops when an older, obviously southern store clerk rubbed my belly and asked if I was pregnant.
I seriously wanted to say no, just to see the reaction, but figured that would be inappropriate. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right.
So while I haven’t had the issue of strangers’ hands on my belly, I have had to deal with a steady flow of awkward comments and questions from people I know.
“Where will your husband be at delivery?”
I explained that he would be with me in the delivery room. But this wasn’t good enough of an answer because it was followed up with, “will he be helping with the delivery?” Yes, I said naively, “He’ll be holding my hand, he’ll be my support. Giving me ice chips. Whatever it is that needs to be done…” But really, what the person wanted to know if he was going to HELP with the delivery. as in catch the baby, take the baby out, in essence, DELIVER the baby.
Um, no. I barely made it through a natural delivery as a nursing student and I wasn’t even at the foot of the bed. My husband, I said, would be up at the head of the bed.
“So, tell me. Any stretch marks yet?”
This was the follow up question to see how I was feeling (Great! Thanks for asking! Can’t complain!). Of all the questions to ask a person in school and working part time, who enjoys reading and current events, and who happens to be pregnant, this is what I was asked. Nothing about school, about the topics I was researching, about what I was studying.
I can see why some of my female politico idols are annoyed when their hair, makeup, and clothing is the topic of conversation instead of their current work and current events.
After taking a sip of my fizzy fruit punch, I responded, “You know, I really don’t know. Our only full length mirror broke, our vanity mirrors are pretty high up, and I can’t look around my own belly, so I’m not even sure!” maybe I should lift up my shirt and you can tell me? Then you can take a marker, circle my problem areas and cellulite, and I can do the same to you!
Some Ally McBeal imagery ensued.
“How about swelling? Are you feet and fingers real swollen? Are you still wearing the same shoe size?”
Again, if you’re a friend or family member, you might have a pass on this. It depends. In all honesty, I guess this question isn’t that bad, but it’s still an odd question with a bit of passive-agressiveness (for lack of a better term). The only way I can answer this fairly is to say, “After work my feet look kind of swollen, but whose aren’t after a 12 hour shift?” (smile, sip, and walk away.)
“So, have the doctors said anything to you about size? Have they mentioned how much you’ve grown? Have they talked to you about difference from your first appointment…” “How much have you gained?”
The poor person didn’t even get a chance to finish their question. I should have let them continue to stumble with the question. Instead I quickly answered, “Oh, I know exactly how much I’ve gained.” I keep wondering if this person meant to ask about the size of the baby….but there was no follow up question asking that. And yes, I really have been asked how much I’ve gained point blank (different person).
Maybe I’m going crazy, and maybe these are questions of genuine concern. But I never asked those questions of my friends who were pregnant. It was always a generic, “how are you feeling? is there anything you need?” If I had questions about the things they were talking about regarding their pregnancy, then I prodded (“I don’t understand…why can’t you eat cold cuts?”) because I truly did not know what the issue was.
Obviously people are asking if I’m going to breast feed or not (I’m going to try, but if it doesn’t work there are other options available). I was asked if I had a birth plan (yes, to go to the hospital pregnant and deliver a baby any way possible that is safest for me and the baby).
Maybe I’m not taking any of this seriously enough and one day I’ll look back at this post and roll my eyes at my ‘younger, naive’ self. I don’t know. Until then, let’s talk about the fascinating books I’ve been able to read in the past 3 weeks, what I learned while researching pharmacogenetics, the great restaurants we have in the area, and the number of phenomenal movies Hollywood has finally released. I promise it’s more interesting than stretch marks and swelling.