Something I was mulling over the other day, on an afternoon when my grocery store seemed to be particularly overrun with pregnant women:
I once heard this story about a young woman – in her 20s, I think – she got pregnant out of wedlock. It may have even been a one-time deal, or a boyfriend who she then immediately realized wasn’t fit to raise a child with her, because nobody heard anything about the father. Anyway, her mom flipped out and threatened to disown her, and her brother – who was living in another state – had to call and reason with his mother. Which he did, and successfully. The young woman was even allowed to continue living in her room in her mother’s house.
In fact, so the story goes, she wasn’t allowed to leave it. Family friends came over after the baby was born, and were surprised to see a baby at all, because no one outside the family had had any idea the woman was even pregnant.
I may implement this tactic on myself in case of an eventual pregnancy, but not because I’ll be ashamed or embarrassed to be having a child. No, it’s more because other people seem to do shameful and embarrassing things around pregnant women.
First of all, there’s the uninvited belly-touching. I think when a woman is carrying a child, her belly becomes as personal as say, her boobs, or her ass, and strangers shouldn’t be allowed to just come up and touch it. Also, people say dumb things to pregnant women, ask the same questions repeatedly (“When are you due?”; “Is it your first?”; “Boy or girl?”), and make comments that can border on inappropriate. I remember one day, when Ashley from work was about eight months pregnant, some old customer dude just walked by her and said joyfully, “Hey! Preggo!” Because Ashley is giggly and good-natured, she just kind of laughed and went back to what she was doing. Me? I would’ve punched the guy.
And I do weird things around pregnant women too, although, comparatively, I’m not that bad. I stare. I stare at bellies if they’re potentially pregnant, because I’m trying to figure out whether or not the owner of said belly should be making me uncomfortable. And I stare at very pregnant bellies because I am uncomfortable, and they’re like car wrecks that I just can’t look away from. Or better yet, they’re like spiders: I know if I lose sight of one for just one second, it’s going to sneak up on me when I least expect it, and traumatize the bejeezus out of me.
So I stare, and it’s rude, but it’s a reflex. And then I just think about what it will be like when I’m pregnant, and there are girls staring at me. First of all, it’s awkward and annoying to be stared at whatever the circumstance, but I’ll inevitably take it one step further and assume that they’re like me now, and that they all hate me simply because I’m pregnant, and that they’re all secretly wishing I would have just stayed home.
So maybe I’ll just stay home. Maybe I’ll self-impose a quarantine, because I know how much it’s bothered me, in the past few years, to have pregnant women popping up all over the place. And I really do care about other people’s feelings, and I don’t wish my post-traumatic-miscarriage feelings on anyone. I may not have a solution, but at least – when the time comes that I become my own enemy, so to speak – at least I could choose not be part of the problem.