Quarantine

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.

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6 Responses to Quarantine

  1. Arohanui says:

    I have often thought about the uninvited touching of pregnant women’s bellies. I think this would really piss me off, but maybe if I had a big pregnant belly I wouldn’t mind so much? I wonder if it is more than some strange cultural ritual, and that it is in fact something programmed into our genes? The most significant, most important thing that can happen to any animal is the reproduction of it’s species. Pregnant women are like a beacon representing fertility, hope, survival. The entire baby-creation process is pretty miraculous and well worth marveling over. Even when we don’t know why, and don’t really want to, the urge to touch that belly can still be very compelling…

    • Marie says:

      “Pregnant women are like a beacon representing fertility, hope, survival. ”

      That’s very beautiful. However, for me, and for Yolk, and maybe for you, too, pregnant women are like kryptonite. I’m thinking of us, here, ladies 😉

  2. runnyyolk says:

    I agree with Arohanui–I can see why people want to touch it. It kind of goes with the whole, “it takes a village to raise a child thing” maybe? But I would punch them too.

    And I feel like I’m constantly under siege from pregnant bellies. They’re EVERYWHERE.

  3. Dani says:

    In my 8 months, I’ve only had one stranger touch the belly (my coworker’s client). I thought belly touching would bug me too, but for me I don’t mind at all if it’s a friend or family member. Sometimes I want them to touch! Like, “hurry, feel! She’s kicking!”
    But what drives me crazy are the stupid and repetative comments/questions! “How are you feeling?”, “how’s the belly doing?”, “can you feel her kicking?” ugh! I recognize they’re just being polite, but Jesus, say something original or ask a REAL question! Luckily I haven’t found anyone staring, so maybe you won’t either…
    In terms of bring part of the “problem” and hiding yourself, it’s all about how you look at it. Maybe you’ll be part of the solution! Your belly can be someone’s exposure therapy ;0)

  4. Saundra says:

    The protruding belly is one of the most attractive things about pregnancy, for me anyway. You probably haven’t spent the better part of your life trying to cover or hide your belly, like I have, but I love the idea I can just fucking let it be. It’s like your allowed to have a belly in five-month intervals.

    I’ve also thought how funny it is, this public announcement that you are, or have been, sexually active. LOVE it.

    A friend of a friend once told me though that she got some bitchy looks from women her age, and that she got a lot of unwanted sexual attention from guys — like, hey, she obviously puts out! Let’s flirt! (I’ve heard this is kind of a cultural thing)

    • Marie says:

      I try to cover and hide my belly NOW, because I don’t want anyone to accidentally think I’m pregnant, ever. And if I’m bloated and see my protruding belly in the mirror, it scares me almost as much as a real pregnant belly.

      Don’t get me wrong. I want one. I think it’s jealousy that feeds my hatred of them.

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