My family and I were out for a walk last weekend. We were trolling some houses we want to buy to accommodate our expanding numbers. We saw a group of women sitting on a porch across the street. Strangers. Just yakking on the porch on a lovely spring evening.
One of them yelled, “Excuse me! What are you doing?”
Realizing she was talking to me, I furrowed my brow. How should I answer this person? Had she seen my younger son eating boogers? The older one touching poison ivy?
She clarified: “You trying to walk that baby out???”
I felt taken aback. What? I’m only 30 weeks pregnant. Assuming these women have been pregnant before, I couldn’t understand how they couldn’t tell the difference between a woman in or near labor and, well, a woman just great with child.
“We’re just taking a walk,” I said.
“Nah, you walking that baby out!”
I should have kept on walking, but then something *wrong* would just be left dangling in the ether and I felt compelled to explain. “I have 2 months to go.”
At this, everyone on the porch began to scream and yell in shock and disbelief. They yelled comments about my stomach, about the size of me, about my gait. It kept on and on until we were out of earshot.
Strangers! Presumably not midwives or obstetricians, but lay women just feeling somehow like it was ok to express these things about my body.
On one hand, there’s this reality: this is my third pregnancy. My core muscles have been surgically severed twice. There’s really nothing left to help me maintain lift and so my womb expands and sags.
I’m also just over 5 feet tall. My babies have nowhere to go but straight out the front.
But mostly, who the hell do they think they are? Why is it suddenly acceptable for them to make comments about me from their porch on a Monday evening?
I’ll never get over being angry at the way we’ve decided it’s open season to grope or discuss a woman’s body once there is a human baby inside of it. When you see a pregnant woman, know that every one of her relatives has already made a remark about the size and shape of her body, has suggested something about the size of her baby and made a judgment about her level of swelling/zittiness/belly button. This pregnant woman has been subjected to uninvited, forceful advice about birthing, parenting, infant feeding, and sleep.
The result of these porch-sitting-wanna-be-obstetricians was to ruin my walk, and send me into tears of frustration. I made Corey get the car to hurry us home. I felt too vulnerable and exposed walking out in the world where, evidently, even people sitting on their porches were watching my every step. It’s going to be a long summer until Baby Lev emerges.