As my pregnancy progresses, my belly grows larger.
As my belly grows larger, more people start to notice that I am pregnant.
The more people know that I'm pregnant the more people touch me.
And it's driving me crazy.
It seems to me that most pregnant women have the same problem with unwelcome touching. For whatever reason, the pregnant belly attracts people. Strangers feel comfortable giving your tummy a little pat. Hands of friends and acquaintances just automatically reach out when they see that life-giving bulge. People go so far as to bend over and kiss your stomach, talk to it, even get frisky with both hands.
I admit right here and now that I have been guilty of reaching out and touching a friend's pregnant belly without asking first if it would be all right (but I have never done this to a stranger. Nor have I gone farther than a little belly pat). I understand that there is something magical about witnessing a pregnant woman for many people, especially if you have never experienced it for yourself. It really is an awe-inspiring thing to know that there is a little person living and growing underneath someone's skin. It puts me in awe every day when I look down and see my own baby's progress through the size of my stomach.
When I was pregnant with Sydney it didn't bother me all that much if people patted my belly. I was never accosted by a stranger or by anyone in an inappropriate way. Mostly just people at church or children or students on my track team felt ok touching my belly for a few moments and that was ok. I never flinched when my husband rested his hands on my stomach or placed his ear right on it.
This time around is different for me. It's probably because of the nature of this pregnancy and how in the beginning, from week-to-week, I was never sure how long I would stay pregnant or if this baby would make it. It's probably because I've had multiple miscarriages. For whatever reason, I physically recoil when anyone tries to touch me (except my husband, but even then if he concentrates too long on my abdominal area if I'm not ready for it I get a bit uncomfortable). I notice a lot more when people are looking at my stomach and if I see someone coming toward me with their hands out I instinctively back away and cover myself. I get very upset – and even though it makes me feel tremendously guilty – if someone does manage to touch me and then senses that it bothered me and actually says something, I tell them that I prefer not to be touched. And then? I usually have to go cry somewhere.
It's awful. I even feel like I'm being mean for writing any of this in a public forum.
And yet? I think that people need to be more considerate of a pregnant woman in this way. You don't know what her pregnancy has been like. You don't know if she has psychological issues attached to her baby bump (as I do). You don't know if she's had miscarriages, if it would embarrass her if you point out that you can see her belly button sticking out through her shirt, or if she's just a private person and would rather not be touched in such an intimate way without permission.
I'm not trying to turn this into a PSA, but honestly? It hurts my feelings when someone tells me how "big" I look for 22 weeks and that I look like I'm carrying twins and then just goes "la-ti-dah" and skips on with their day. It frightens me when someone reaches out to grab my stomach without warning or permission. Even though it totally goes against my normally very "open" and "willing-to-share" personality. It has taken me off guard.
Maybe someone else feels the same way?