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Rants & Raves Step Away from the Bump! Why Pregnancy Does Not Equal Public Property

So I’m pregnant. I’m. Yep, that’s me, myself and I. Except it sure doesn’t feel that way sometimes…

You know that old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, I’ve felt the effects of that sentiment more than once in my time. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Being pregnant with my first child, I was blissfully unaware of what lay ahead as I stared at those surreal words, ‘2-3 weeks’, on my Clearblue stick. I excitedly told my husband and we simply (stupidly) could not wait to tell everyone within a 20 mile radius!

But I wish, oh how I wish we had kept it to ourselves just that little while longer. The elation, the surprise; it was our little secret, our baby.

I’m NOT Public Property!

The sad reality is that once you tell someone you’re pregnant, you’re suddenly that person’s concern. You become public property and open yourself up to suggestions, advice and outright instructions on how to do everything from eating right to pushing the thing out!

Apparently ‘with child’ actually means ‘am child’ because I was suddenly unable to make my own decisions, from breastfeeding to finding out the gender; everyone had an opinion. I was most certainly incapable of raising a human being without the ‘friendly’ advice from everyone who had ever so much as looked at a baby, aka the village.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on when you start showing – then you’re everyone’s bloody business! You transform into a magic lamp, available for rubbing whenever the urge should arise, and there’s no stopping it.

You may as well have a big flashing arrow pointing to your belly with ‘Get your free rubs here, folks’ because there’s no stopping dear ol’ Edna in the middle of the Sainsbury’s pet food aisle from having a good old feel, let me tell you.

You’re public property until you squeeze that kid out, and you know what? It’s not OK. Step away from the bump, people!

The Inappropriate Stranger: Do Not Touch Me

My friend’s wedding, the doctor’s surgery waiting room, a petrol station, oh yeah, and in the queue at HSBC! They’re all places my belly has been caressed by an inappropriate stranger. People make a beeline for bumps wherever you go. And it’s awkward, oh so awkward.

I like to think I’m an affectionate person, I’m certainly not particularly standoffish. I enjoy a hug as much as the next person… from people I know, that is!

I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t know my name then you shouldn’t be touching me. Yes, you, random stranger holding the door open for me at the mall. I mean, thanks and all, but back off. And it’s Jane, by the way.

Luckily I learnt the art of resting bitch face pretty quickly. I got rather good at it, so I now look like I’ll kick you in the crotch if you come anywhere near me – at all times, in fact, pregnant or not. It’s a blessing and a curse really.

But if I’m ever pregnant again, I’m reasonably sure my face will read ‘touch the belly, lose a hand.’

The ‘Friendly’ Fundamentals: Censorship, Please!

If any of your friends have had children then prepare yourself for a lot of ‘helpful’ advice. These wonderful nuggets of information will be bestowed upon you without you asking for them, and lucky you, because these are the ‘essential’ facts you absolutely must take on board if you want to do things ‘properly’.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for suggestions for creams to help with stretch marks. But telling me to absolutely never get an epidural because “so and so did and she’s now paralysed from the waist down,” isn’t exactly the kind of advice I’m happy to receive in my paranoid pregnant state. Thanks, bestie!

“Are you going to breastfeed? You must breastfeed. So and so didn’t breastfeed and their son is now dyslexic; just trying to help.” Again – ta, but no ta.

“Oh, you mustn’t go back to work, nurseries have too many germs, you should be a stay-at-home mum like me.” Hmmm.

Then there are the ‘Sandra’s’. Don’t ask me how or why, but there’s always a Sandra. She has five kids (at least), drives a Vauxhall Zafira and is a pregnancy extraordinaire – naturally. She’s the woman you meet at NCT classes. I’ve no idea why she’s actually there as she’s done this so many times before. I guess she just shows up to ‘impart her wisdom’ and to initiate you into the circle of eternal mummy friendship.

You’ve never heard of it? Oh, once you’re pregnant you have unknowingly entered this weird circle of friendship with every other woman who has ever had a kid. Ever. “No way, I’ve had a baby too, we are instantly connected, we have a bond, we are childbearing miracle producers”…blah blah blah!

Intrusive questions like “So, how long were you trying for?” are apparently OK to ask inside the circle, as well as “What position did you conceive with? Was it missionary? Missionary position means you’ll have a baby boy, you know, the sperm…” Unlock the loop – I want out, Sandra!!

The Interfering Kinfolk: Thanks, But No Thanks

And then there’s your family. Everything from my mum coming out with gems like “You look ginormous! Lucky you didn’t gain any more weight on your bum though, couldn’t afford to do that,” to the in-laws waffling on about the lifelong implications of finding out the gender.

“You must have a surprise, don’t find out, I can’t believe you’d want to know, you’ll ruin the whole experience.” Oh, but Aunty Josephine says “you must find out the gender, we need to know what colour onesie to buy, how will we know what to buy?!” OH, JUST SHUT UP!

“What names have you picked out then?… Oh no, I don’t like that name, sounds like a Russian prostitute, let’s hope you don’t have a girl.” I kid you not, this was said to me – well, thanks very much! Thank you for tainting that name I love so much for your future granddaughter. And yeah, I said it, we found out. It’s a girl, so HA! BUY PINK, JOSEPHINE!

“Never mind… now vaccinations, are we going to opt for them or not?” …I’m sorry, we?

Bottom line, being pregnant is a personal and private time. A time for you, your partner and your baby to prepare for a whole new life – yet there is precious little that’s private about it. From strangers to friends and family, everyone is involved in some way and it’s about time someone wrote what every pregnant woman is thinking – GO AWAY!

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