Life behind the belly

This was almost 10 weeks ago, so imagine more belly.

I can’t tell from the readership survey so far if you like these kinds of posts or not … but, yes, this is another post about pregnancy. (You’ve got until April 1 to tell me what you think in the survey, so if you love or hate these kinds of posts, now’s your chance to tell me.)

So here’s a sampling of what I’m obsessing about lately:

  • There’s a pregnancy beauty standard?: Something that happens to me a lot lately is that random strangers come up to me or stop me in line and ask, “twins?” But no, just the one fetus incubating in there. What happens next is what is sorta starting to bother me, gasp, “Really?! You’re HUGE!” Why yes. Yes I am huge. Thanks for noticing. I’m 8 months pregnant! How do you respond to that? And it is sort of an interesting intersection of societal beauty standards and what it means to be pregnant in America. Even when a woman is pregnant, we still have an expectation of thinness, shape, size, whatever you want to call it. The reaction says, “You are disproportionately huge. You are making me uncomfortable. Your size is an oddity.” Or maybe there’s something else to it. Maybe as a society we are too divorced form our own biology (“food at the push of a button” says the commercial on TV; our waste/garbage is neatly flushed/packaged/carted away; food in the grocery store is sanitized from the slaughter of animals or tilling of earth …). The roundness of a pregnant woman’s body, the lack of ease of movement, the breasts full of milk for a newborn … maybe that’s subconsciously reminding people a little too much that nature/biology is not, in fact, something that can always be neatly contained, buttoned away, manufactured by machines. Pregnancy has some incredibly biological moments, let me tell you. … Or, maybe I’m just reading too much into all this and people are just rude assholes.

  • Random, awkward experiences with strangers: So the other day I was in line at the store and the woman in front of me bought cigarettes. No big deal. Before the cashier went to get the cigarettes, she turned to me and asked if I was buying cigarettes. Really?! There was nothing blocking her visual path or obscuring my belly (which we’ve already established is freakishly huge). Now, I do happen to know of a pregnant woman who is a smoker (while pregnant). As much as I am, I admit, a bit horrified by that, no one has been able to convince her to stop. I myself have never been a smoker. I grew up with smokers and somehow it had the effect of making me totally dislike everything about cigarettes. And now I have asthma. So there you go. Even in a non-pregnant state, I am not into smoking. At first I thought she was talking to someone else but there was no one else and she was clearly looking at me and pointing at me. I could not control myself and laughed right out loud. I rubbed my (enormous!) belly and said, “No. None for me thanks.” And then she blushed and was clearly a bit embarrassed. I started to feel bad. But then when she was ringing me up, she asked me while pointing at the belly, “How many?” When I told her one baby, she had the most horrified look on her face of anyone that I have had that interaction with and said, “Reeaaally.” Bar none. So, there’s that.
  • Fashion: Okay, there really isn’t any fashion to being pregnant. You do the best you can with limited supply. Most stores don’t sell maternity clothes or have some sad little row of three racks (looking at your Target and JC Penney and Kohls and …) that they call a maternity section. The stores that do have maternity generally sell it online only (Old Navy, Gap, Nordstrom, etc.). So you’re pretty limited. And it’s almost impossible to continue with whatever your normal unique style is. If everyone has to shop from the same tiny pool of clothes, all us pregnant ladies are going to start looking like an army of khaki-pants-wearing, polka-dot-top-sporting mom-bots. Well, really round, cranky, flatulent mom-bots. But I didn’t expect to be a fashion plate during pregnancy. I’m at peace with that. What is hard for me to have any peace of mind about is the fact that there are very few shirts that cover my top half. I have two months to go, people! Where are the long t-shirts, long shirts, long whatever I can find to cover my belly? I am down to three shirts that will cover me all the way to my pants. Seriously! I have nearly ordered and tried on every shirt from Old Navy, Gap … you name it. I’ve trolled the high-priced maternity websites but, gag, I can’t pay $115 for a tunic. No joke! $115! I even found a website that sells maternity pants exclusively for tall women, so that’s great for them. I’m not that tall. I’m 5’6″. And I’m not plus-size (still wearing Ls and XLs). It’s not about girth it’s about length (please hold the dick jokes). So what’s the deal?? At this point, I don’t even care if it’s attractive. I just need some damn tops! (Although I will say, this gives a whole new perspective to the age-old “I have nothing to wear” problem. Ah, perspective.)
  • Freak show: Now that I’m in the last months of pregnancy I have begun to notice that every time I leave the house there is someone, somewhere staring at me. Openly staring. Everywhere I go. It would be sort of okay if I got a smile out of it every now and then. But that rarely happens. Usually people just stare. Children point, but I can forgive them because they’re young. And it gives one a sense that you have to be on your best behavior all the time. I feel like everyone wants to know what’s in my grocery cart. Everyone wants to see the title of the book in my bag. And heaven forbid I have a bad day or am a bit cranky or tired or nauseous (because that hasn’t fully left me since this began) or my back hurts or I stub my toe because I can’t see my feet or … It’s just this sense that it’s The Belly Show and I’m on display.
  • Rudeness: So after all the staring, pointing and comments about the enormity of my belly, you’d think that people would be a little more accommodating to the giant pregnant lady coming down the food aisle or walking down the sidewalk. But no. I get bumped into all the time! People see me. I make eye contact with them. I am highly visible and can’t get any smaller. And they just jam right through me anyway. No excuse me. Nothing. What I really hate is when someone is walking behind me and sighs or grumbles about how slow I am. I secretly hope that they feel a little bad about that after they pass me and see I’m pregnant. I walk slow these days! Go around if you have to but get over yourself while you do it! So, in essence, when you’re pregnant you are constantly on display but at the same time you are sort of an invisible obstacle. You are inconvenient. You are slow. And people are very impatient.

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