There’s something about walking around with a pregnant belly that seems to say to the world, “I’m fair game. Have at it.” Or at least, this has been my experience over the past number of weeks. There are so many things that I absolutely LOVE about being pregnant (and so many things I’ve been celebrating in this baby-growing season), but to be honest, the phenomena of frequent unsolicited commenting and belly-rubbing are not two of them.
From the moment we announced our joyful news, wisdom, advice and the opinions of others have become daily interjections in my pregnant life. And I mean it when I say that we have been blessed by many, many women and parents who have showered us with great stories, encouragement, love, understanding, prayers and the like as we’ve begun the journey. We are incredibly grateful for all of the love that we are receiving as a family, and the love that we know Baby K will meet when he or she joins us in 15+ short weeks. But there have been so many others…some we know, and some we’ve never met ’til now, who have seemed far too delighted to share their horror stories, their woes, the worrisome negatives and countless discouragements–just as soon as they’ve spotted my belly for the first time.
I can’t seem to figure this out. As first time parents we have plenty of concerns of our own, but we’re mostly just so excited about this new development that we always consider it a blessing and a very good thing. I’m actually not sure how it could be a bad thing, and I can’t reconcile why anyone else would want to harbor on the negative possibilities when we’ve not invited them in. On a good day, I just feel badly that the downside to babies and parenting are the focus for more people than I might have expected. On a bad/tired/emotional/hormonal day, I kind of just want to kick the person contributing such drudgery to my otherwise delightedly pregnant world. And who can blame me?
If you’re reading this, and you’ve touched my belly because I’ve welcomed it, or because you’ve asked, or because the baby is kicking and I just really want someone else to feel how tangible it is in the moment, then please, avert your eyes to this paragraph. But honestly, I can’t for the life of me imagine walking up to someone who wasn’t pregnant and caressing–yes, caressing, their stomach out of the blue. So why is it OK for the perfect stranger or for someone I hardly know to do it to me? And when did a baby in my belly become the universal indicator for “Please make this moment awkward and keep doing that while you’re talking to me and I’m still trying to figure out who you are and what is happening!?” I could spend all day introducing Baby K to people I know and love with a little bump here and a little kick there. I just can’t feel good about introducing myself at the same time. Hello world. This is me. My name is Molly and I’m expecting. Oh, and did I mention your hand is on my belly? Whoa.
One last thing, and I promise I’m through for the night. Then you can either pretend to forget you read this, or you can decide I’m a little crazy, or you can love me for being vulnerable. And I’m totally OK with wherever you land. Get ready for it though, because it seems like this one has been a major point of contention. Jason and I are not finding out the gender of our little baby. Gasp. I know. It’s very 1950’s of us. I don’t mind the teasing about it, and I don’t even mind the fun guessing and speculation that we’re all predisposed as humans to do. Heck, I wonder what this little kid is every single day! But if you insist on insisting that it’s one or the other, and especially if you’ll delight yourself in reminding me that you were absolutely right when the babe is in fact “A boy!” or “A girl!”, please feel free to do so quietly. As much as I also like to wonder whether the peanut will look better in pink or blue, I really, really love the element of surprise. And no one knows what’s coming on May 1st (not even the ultrasound tech), so we’re all only truly safe with the guess that “It’s a BABY!” It is. We promise. And we’ll let the rest of the world know just as soon as we do. If Baby K lives in green or brown or yellow or orange for a little while as a newborn, I vow to make up for lost time with gender-appropriate colors later. (And it’s possible we’ll have some pink and blue waiting in the wings, because making returns is easy these days and why not?)
I realize that this probably sounds all grumpy and edgy, and a little more raw than you’re probably used to reading from me, but it had to come out. If you have stories or wisdom or memories or advice to share with us and it’s positive, we graciously welcome it, and we thank you in advance. By the same token, my belly is still my belly, whether round or flat, full of baby or just innocuously me. And our baby is definitely going to be one or the other, boy or girl. We’re certain we’re going to love it to pieces either way. So please-oh-please-oh-please I beg of you, for the benefit of every expecting parent and belly I know, love us gently. It means the world when you do, and it makes the business of being pregnant oh-so-much more fun to share in the process.
joyfully (and I really mean it!) filling up with baby,