Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why are you thinking about my sexual activity...

Out to lunch recently with a pregnant friend, a man leaving the table next to ours  smiled directly at her. And then said, "You're getting so big. You look like you swallowed a beach ball!" She pauses, smiles at him, and says in reply "So do you!" I LOVED it because it is totally out of character for her. And he had it coming.

She is currently a bit sensitive about weight. And experiencing a great emotional whirl pool. What many a mom has experienced when your life is weeks away from being permanently altered.  Long before I was pregnant, I heard a tale or two regarding the obsession some strangers have with pregnant tummies. I disregarded these tales at the time since 1: I was not remotely interested in pregnancy or things relative and 2: It would not sooner occur to me to rub a woman's stomach than it would be to make a bet against Donald Trump I could do a better comb-over.

However, as many of you know, these tales bear validity. And those tales along with a few other oddities are cogs in this wheel of something I like to call: 

Observing Pregnancy: Things Inappropriate (usually involving strangers.)

Let me explain. I loved being pregnant. I was very fortunate to have a easy pregnancy and believe me, I was wearing high heels until the day that baby came. I had no cravings, imbalanced hormones, stretch marks, nothing. I was not sleepy and I never took a nap. I felt like it was a great experience for me. Our active delivery was 45 minutes so I know I won the lottery. And listen, I know the universe is fair which is all the more incentive to delay Baby #2. Baby #2 will be a smart ass version of me (wait, is that an oxymoron?) who will toss her hair, dance on tables and sass me before I change the first diaper.

All this aside, I was under-prepared for several external aspects of pregnancy. Let me share.

Tummy Touching: Early on, I asked a girlfriend if she had the stranger touch when she was pregnant. She said absolutely not and in fact stated " I do not give off that kind of vibe." I considered this more deeply as I was getting the two-hand abdominal touchfest by this woman as I stood outside a restaurant in Seattle one day.

What kind of vibe is it exactly? I wanted to know so I could turn it off immediately. I got this stranger touch multiple times. Me, never short of a retort, literally could NOT lob a verbal comeback as I was being physically accosted. And you know why it qualifies as accosted? Because it is a STRANGER. Which means I am just a tiny touch uncomfortable as you grope my ever-growing abdomen. Its not a magic lamp granting wishes. I asked my mom once why people do that. "They are just excited," she replied. Mmm hmmm. I get excited about things as well but I do not automatically go for the rub a dub dub.

LESSON: If you did not put that baby in that uterus, you better ask somebody. OR what my friend MC Hammer said, "U Can't Touch This!" 

Aesthetics: Simply put, there are scads of gorgeous pregnant women. Some people get sick, some don't but most pregnant women reach a stage where its all about the glow. Dining out years ago, I saw this beautiful pregnant woman wearing a fitted leopard print dress and some fabulous heels. She looked smashing. This was before celebrities went out in tiny shirts with tummies out every day. I never wore maternity clothes because I never saw any I liked. I wore dresses everyday and heels. Every time I see a pregnant woman that looks great, I tell her, whether we are in the grocery store or Saks.

What is unnecessary during the pregnancy is to have unsolicited input from others. Example: I worked at a huge corporation during my pregnancy and one day, this woman I did not know, scolded me for wearing heels and being pregnant. It would not have irritated me quite so much had her soliloquy ended in a minute. Oh, no. It went on. And ON. I thought  Oh, Miss BusyBody, thanks for weighing in. Would you like to check my dilation soon? She followed me down the stairs and then lamented on how she could not believe I was wearing HEELS and going down STAIRS. How dangerous! How risky! I thought, hmmm, I am not carrying a wild turkey or pulling a cargo train filled with cattle. I was walking carefully, not doing pirouettes. And what did she think the hand rail was for? It is not for sliding down. It is for using extra caution.

And at a holiday party at about 8 months pregnant, all dolled up in Chanel, this woman looked at me with a pinched up face and said, "You look really tired." At 8 months, I had become wiser and knew better than to respond. Did I silence myself? Of course no.  I simply turned to her and said, "Awww, honey, no I don't."

If a pregnant person looks tired, guess what, she might be. But you know who will let her know? Her own eyes, when she looked at herself in the mirror that day.

LESSON: Do not tell pregnant women all your big thoughts and big pieces of advice on their attire, shoes, stair climbing, tiredness, growth. Include in this: NEVER ask a woman when she is due unless you know without fail that she is pregnant. Seriously. Unless you see a baby crowning, keep your questions to yourself.

This primarily applies to people you do not know. Your close friends will read you like a book. At 24 weeks, we spent the weekend with good friends. We were excited to tell them our news. Getting out of the car in their driveway, Wen asked me, "Are you F__ING PREGNANT?!?!" Read you like a book, I tell you. 

Oversharing: Oh, this one is my favorite. While pregnant, I went out with several girlfriends to lunch and one of them was also pregnant. One of the guests, a bit of a wild card, started by saying she hates kids. (Oversharing) She followed with several stories of her sister's horrible pregnancy. (Oversharing) She then said her friend was four months pregnant and drank wine, and sometimes Tequila! (Oversharing). She then said her sisters baby went on a plane, and got irreversible brain damage. (Oversharing.)

Listen, if you knew someone who had the horrible fate of taking an infant on a plane and having a medical emergency, my heart goes out to you. However, an infant does not get brain damage from simply being taken into an aircraft (which was the assertion.)

Lady Manhandler in Seattle also shared endless, unsolicited pieces of advice. I was not to give my child sugar, nonorganic milk, or let it grow up an only child. OH, and that I had to breastfeed or our baby would be constantly sick, intellectually deficient, and have no hope of social skills. Finally, I asked her how old her kids were. She told me she had none but she did have a five year old niece! Here is a recommendation: You can not pontificate on pregnancy advice if you have never been pregnant. Also known as: Shut Your Yap.

And from others I heard about cords around the necks, gestational diabetes, and my personal favorite: collapsed uterus. I feel for anyone who had a difficult time. Listen, I did not enjoy developing heartburn equivalent to that of a 75 year old man nor did I get a giggle out of going pee pee 100 times a day but you wont hear me talk about it. Not everyone is interested. My overall experience was great and I can't be the only woman on Earth who can make that statement.  

LESSON: If you have a story that involves details of unpleasantness around pregnancy, save them for your lineup of people asking you. I am sure that line is short. 

Duplicates: As I lay in the hospital bed, a day after delivering out little man into the world, I heard something I would have not anticipated. "When you are back next year with your second baby, all of this will be old hat to you." This was stated by Nurse Crazy as she checked my "stats" for the tenth time that hour. I thought I had misheard her. I said, "No, this is our first," thinking she was confused. "Oh I know," she said, "but it won't be long until your back." Hmmm.

My uterus can hear you, and to be honest, it wants you to dial down the volume. Little did I know that this was the beginning of what still goes occurs on a weekly basis. Our son is FOUR.  The frequency we are asked when we are adding to our brood can no longer be counted. Oh, and Lady at Starbucks, we are not best friends. I appreciate your earnest interest in my life because my son smiled at you while he sipped his Odwalla, but that ten minute debriefing you gave me on the drawbacks of growing up an only child, well, I just came in for a soymilk hot chocolate. I once decided the next time I was asked when I am having another baby, to respond, "We do not know, but we sure practiced this morning." I tucked that smart reply deep in my Jimmy Choo and yet have only had the moxie to use it, just once. But my uterus is not the Four Seasons. It doesn't need full occupancy at all times.

LESSON: Are other peoples birth plans that interesting? Why are you thinking about my sexual activity. And procreation. Stop it. 

Pregnancy impacts all women differently and while a pregnant person is busy building a human, inside her BODY, she might have other things on her mind than stories that only aid and abet angst. She has a trusted resource and that person's first name is "DOCTOR". There are so many great mothers we know and once asked, they were thrilled to share information. 

For the guy at the restaurant, try a simple smile next time and leave it at that.

34 comments:

Kat said...

Amen! I'm like you, I had a very easy pregnancy. Actually, never felt better in my life. Delivery, not so much LOL. But I do not tell grim stories to every pregnant woman I know. I just tell them how joyous my pregnancy was and leave it at that. As far as the "only child" syndrome, I've heard it for years. I just point to our daughter and smile. Her accomplishments say more than I ever could on that subject. Kat

DaisyGal said...

Uh oh I am the QUEEN of the overshare. I better dial it down hmmm?
For th rest..agreed. I will add DO NOT ask a woman who it took 4 yrs, $30,000. IVF and a horrilbe twin pregnancy..if she is 'going to try for the girl". Dear god people I'm 41 yrs old!!!!!

This was awesome..as u are.

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

I had a co worker ask if I was having twins. Rude enough but when I said no she said, "Are you sure?"

Erin said...

Thanks for the morning laugh. Since I have yet to experience pregnancy these are all great tips.

undomestic chica said...

I had twins exactly two months ago so let me tell you, this resonates with me. I was HUGE, but that doesn't give coworkers the right to comment on how much I was eating. Especially since as I was walking down the hall with a piece of potroast I was going to split with my office mate. After Halloween, I had a coworker tell me, "You'be for quite a pumpkin in there." I should have asked him what his excuse was. And don't even get me started on names! I'm so glad we kept them to ourselves until the babies were born because on day when Boyfriend's family was asking about the names I told them we didn't agree but I liked names like x, xy, and xyz, I was told, "Oh no, don't name them xy, there's a bunch of kids in my daughter's school named that. I really like the name Fin." Luckily we didn't name our kids after parts of a fish and we did go with one of the names we were advised not to go with. I couldn't be happier with my twins.

Intense Guy said...

Sorry Ma'am.. won't happen again...

vanilla said...

Since I am a man and can never share the experience, I wasn't sure I should comment. But yes, "oversharing" is one human activity that should go the way of the dodo. It is not confined to "sharing" with Mama-to-Be. E.g., sharing the death of an acquaintance whose demise was the result of the condition the sharee is suffering. And so on.

Oh, yeah. And pregnant women are beautiful, but I don't tell them so.

Brian Miller said...

ugh. yeah i stear well clear of pregnant ladies...i dont want it to rub off on me...smiles.

Little Ms J said...

I love you Jenny Mac. As I sit here, a rotund 32 weeks pregnant I feel like I'm in church. Preach, sister. My effing sister in law who is pregnant with her fourth and has abs of steel and horse teeth (must be the hormones talking, shame on me) told me, "Wow, you're so big. She must be a big baby. How much weight have you gained? Your vagina will never be the same." Then there was the lady that told me how she broke her tail bone pushing and the double-hand tummy grab while using the words, "You're like me. I was full of fluid too." I wanted to smile and say, "Nobody likes you."

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

My daughter and I were just talking about this after she shared her friend's horror pregnancy story. Such rude people are willing to tell you how horrible you will look with stretch marks. Or, how big as a whale you look and that maybe, just maybe you ate all of the food in the restaurant.

I feel like people just need to get a grip and smile when they see a pregnant woman and keep stepping. Nothing worse than feeling like you are a loaf of bread.

Great post!

Colleen said...

I knew someone who actually wanted to name her son Doctor. I felt very bad for the child.

I was the same kind of pregnant woman as you, but I was lucky enough to avoid the strangers touching. I would have broken someone's hand.

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

So... tell us how you REALLY feel ;)

You definitely don't want to hear about my pregnancies, but I'm jealous that you had such a good one.

Not only did I have people grabbing my tummy, but after my first daughter was born, I actually had a Chinese woman rush up to my adorable just-walking 10 month old in a hotel lobby, and pick her up for a cuddle! Some people simply lose their minds about pregnancy and babies. It's creepy.

singedwingangel said...

My mom is the one who drove me crazy from advice. Growing up and being pregnant in the backwoods and sticks old wive's tales ran amuck. Like dont put your arms over your head you will wrap the cord around the baby's neck. Umm yeah I'll tuck that away in useless info

Eva Gallant said...

I hate people who feel compelled to tell women pregnant with their first baby the worst horror stories they know about childbirth. A few years ago, I was in the break room at work. One of my co-workers was newly pregnant and a couple of the old crones in the office started sharing. I grabbed my co-workers arm and said come with me, I have a question about the report I have on my desk. As soon as we left the room, I confessed that it was a lie, and that I just wanted to get her away from those mean bitches. I assured her that I had given birth twice without any complications and that I was sure that she was young and healthy and would do the same, and not to let those ladies upset her!

HalfAsstic.com said...

Perfect! Way to ZING them!
I had similarly easy, non-eventful pregnancies.
Only the two. But, at the other end of the spectrum are people like me who had them 17 1/2 months apart, on purpose, with a plan, the way we wanted, etc.
I wonder how many times I got remarks about "HOW many children do you have?" "Wow, AGAIN?" "Soooo, you're going to have a really large family...?"
These were from people that I would see, probably once every couple of months at the place I worked.
WHY does anyone think ANY of it is their business, indeed!

Talia said...

This is excellent. Truly one of the best posts I've read! You touched, very well I might add, on every single area of pregancy. Well done!

Baloney said...

I was a teacher when I was pregnant. I think belly rubbing came with the job. One of the 5th graders informed me one day that he "knew exactly what my husband and I had been doing."
Makes you glad you have adult coworkers maybe?!

K A B L O O E Y said...

I've written about this too. InSANE. People don't think. My favorite was the unsolicited comment that a name I was considering was a "stripper name." Wasn't, but had I asked? Nope! But its not just pregnancy and childbirth -- people share their horrible operation/rehab stories, their travel disasters, etc. Misery wants company but never has it because people run the other way on seeing her coming.

Mom Taxi Julie said...

LOVE your friends response. I think the most annoying thing anyone did to me while I was pregnant was the nurse in the L&D room when, after about 8 hours I said "just give me a c section". She told me, "honey if we gave everyone a c section that asked for one no one would have a baby the regular way". I really wanted to hunt her down and kill her a few hours later when I actually did end up having a c section.

Maria said...

Thank you for the laugh! Unfortunately, the never-ending advice does not end with the birth of the baby...It tends to get worse.

Hope your friend has an easy delivery and a happy, healthy bundle of joy!

J.J. in L.A. said...

There have been 2 births in our family in the last 5 weeks and none of us did the things you've written about.

We know better. lol!

f8hasit said...

I think, Jenny Mac, we live parrallel lives. I was also lambasted for wearing heels by a stranger. I think she was just jealous. And I too was one of those women that hit the pregnancy lottery. No probs at all. Ever.

But I stayed with only one child, and at 12 she can attest that her life is pretty damn perfect. I once asked her if she wished she had a sibling. She said (with emphasis) "No! I have friends. And they go home when I want them to."

Wise girl.
:-)

Great post (as always!)

the walking man said...

UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH didn't you just get back from NYC? It's still a little too soon to tell about your maternal condition but you sure as hell had a lot of warning rules today.

B.o.B. said...

Such a great post. I would HATE random strangers trying to touch me. I barely like hugging accquaintances so I can only imagine.

This is a little akin to the droves of people who ask me why I am not married.

Nitmos said...

My wife had a few strangers molest our children while she watched as they fondled her tummy. Weird. Do you scream RAPE, file charges, see a psychiatrist? Not sure what the appropriate response should be so we both decided to forget it and pretend it never happened.

secret agent woman said...

Once when I was quite pregnant and on the beach in a bikini, I saw a man staring at me, visibly cringing in disgust at my bare belly. This man was in swim trunks, no shirt and had an enormous gut displayed for all to see. I walked by him and said "At least there's a baby in mine."

Michael said...

Great post, as a father of one spunky five year old, I can tell you I've tired of the question of "when's the brood increasing" already.

My favorite part was the woman giving advice during your pregnancy who never had children. Outstanding, My jaw still drops at the bizarre advice I'm given from people without children on topics of discipline, to eating habits, and bed times.

Kandace said...

Thank GOODNESS I had a great Back Off vibe and people did Not touch me without permission with either of my pregnancies. My 2nd I was blessed to be that pretty pregnant woman. To this day one of the best compliments I have ever received was when I heard the nurses in the doctor's office talking about me and how good I looked pregnant. It meant So much more since i Knew they were genuine (you know how we can doubt) since they were telling Each Other and didn't know I could hear them. I gained all my weight AFter my kids were born. (BOO)

Mrs. Tuna said...

I look like I've swallowed a beach ball, not pregnant, just fat too.

hotpants™ said...

I was a grumpy, bitchy pregnant lady. People knew not to touch my belly. Even my mom got the side eye when she did it. I let her, but I also gave her a hard time about it. Seriously, strangers, DO NOT TOUCH ME.

MommaAmma said...

Being newly pregnant (for the third time) after telling the presses we were done with #2 makes for a lot of busy bodies! I really appreciate reading this right now. It recalls the memories of people's deadly gasps when I would bend down like a lady to pick something up. As if having a baby in your belly means you have to bend over and wobble about like your Newt Gingrich. And yes, until I get those Schreck feet in week 38, I'm rockin my heels.

Ashley Stone said...

sooo funny cause me and my friend were just talking about this the other day. She's preggers and is not looking forward to rub downs from strangers. I said I'd make her a shirt that says "Can't Touch This." I totally agree with yoU!

Annie said...

Happy blogging! Your rock and have been given the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you for all of your awesome content.

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

Again, not to nag, but I need to know when you're going to write your book. Please let me know so that I can pre-order it on Amazon.

I hated the tummy touchers. With all of my kids being boys (and fitting with the beach-ball boy-carrying stereotype) my stomach arrived places a good 5 seconds before the rest of me did, which gave the touchers ample time to accost me before I could get there and stop them.

I was in the check out lane at the grocery store once and had beer in my cart (for. my. husband.) and the clerk proceeded to give me a lecture about alcohol and pregnancy. grr.