Pregnancy really does do the oddest things to people. Hang on–I’m not talking about the pregnant women, here. I’m talking about non-pregnant folks and their bizarre notion that pregnancy suddenly changes all rules of social interaction and propriety. I have had not only friends and relatives, but also complete strangers, ask if my cervix has started to dilate yet. When was the last time you asked a stranger about the state of their reproductive organs? (For those of you who may be doctors or nurses, I mean outside the context of your work.) Or even a friend or relative for that matter?
What everyone really wants to know, of course: when is that baby going to arrive? This question itself is mildly irritating before your due date and immensely rude-seeming after. The cervix question is just another way of getting around to this, never mind the fact that cervical dilation has very little meaning when it comes to predicting when labor will start. I sometimes start in on a little lecture about this when people ask, going on about the many instances of women being 3 cm dilated at week 33 who go on to deliver at 43 weeks or later, including statistics that show that due dates are actually calculated all wrong, etc. People don’t care. (It’d be weird if they really did care about your cervix, I suppose.) They just want to know when that baby is going to come out and I guess they think knowing you’re 2 cm dilated gives them some inside information. (Hey, a new thought just occurred to me… Maybe they all have some big baby betting pool going on here and I’m losing them money…)
I didn’t tell many people my exact due date, but I did tell a few whom I thought would be understanding and sympathetic when it came and went with no baby. Big mistake–I will never tell anyone my due date again! (Most of the folks I told actually have been quite sympathetic and I do appreciate that–but even so, it’s still annoying to have even a sympathetic friend ask “what, no baby yet?”) It was also a big mistake on my part to tell everyone else the more vague “end of September.” Even that is too much information. My advice to anyone in this situation–purposefully deceive anyone who asks with a date at least 3 weeks later than the date you believe is your due date. Maybe even go for 4 or 5 weeks later. If you’re worried that you’ll then get lots of “boy, you look really big for this point in pregnancy” comments, rest easy–you’ll get those comments anyway, at anytime, from anyone, no matter what you say your due date is. If you deliver early or on time, you probably won’t hear much chatter about that; for some reason, non-medical people seem much more concerned and bothered by babies arriving late than a little early, in spite of all kinds of scientific data indicating slightly early can lead to more problems than pretty darn late. It makes no sense.
One thing I luckily haven’t had to deal with much is the belly-touching issue. Only a very few people have touched or tried to touch my baby belly: my husband, whom I encouraged to do so; my three year old niece, who leaned against me several times to give baby a kiss and say hello; a friend at work, and she did so in an entirely appropriate context that was not weird at all. I have heard plenty of stories from other pregnant women about complete strangers touching their bellies in public. How weird is that? And how is it that what would be considered harrasment or at the very least incredibly rude behavior when done to a non-pregnant woman is okay when done to a pregnant woman?
It’s funny. Early on in my pregnancy I vowed that I wouldn’t let these things get to me, that I’d keep my head in the right place and enjoy every last minute of my pregnancy, even if it lasted 43 weeks. And now here I am, ranting about things and getting anxious with every “have you had the baby yet” phone call and doctor appointment. Hopefully, a “natural” childbirth still lies ahead for me–not because I need to prove myself as some kind of super strong earth mother type who needs a perfect birth experience to feel fulfilled and complete, or whatever. Anyone who knows me knows that isn’t me! I’m planning on and hoping for a “natural” labor and delivery because it gives my son the best odds of living through the experience healthily and happily. All the craziness of pregnancy and childbirth fades to nothing when I think about holding him. So I guess that’s what I need to keep thinking about.
And no more answering the phone.