Dear Pregnant Lady

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Dear Pregant LadyThe Almighty Internet is awash, dear swollen sisters, in advice about what not to say to you. Here’s an excellent guide from Parent’s Magazine, and a humorous one from from Babble. The advice is pretty good. Really.

I agree with 95% of it. I’d never, NEVER, tell you that you’re huge (even though, let’s be real – you’re massive, but not nearly as big as you feel.) I’d die before I suggested that you make the same decisions that I made about birth, or parenting, because I trust you, mama – you’ve got this. Your decisions are already the best for you.

But there’s just ONE little thing. One, tiny little beef I have with every one of these lists. Even though they tell me not to ask, dear Pregnant Lady, COME ON PLEASE – just let me touch your belly.

I know.  KNOW. Our society has turned the commodification of the female form into an art. It’s nearly invisible, except, of course, to women. But seriously. Let me touch your belly ANYWAY.

Wait! Hear me out! Let me draw you a quick, extremely scientific diagram of the people who want to touch a pregnant belly:

GraphMFThere was once a three year period – 36 short months – and I was pregnant for 18 of them. I knew the rolling nausea. The swelling, the itchy, veiny skin. The cravings for the bizarre (for me, grapefruit juice). The random fat pockets, the swollen extremities, the monstrous maternity clothes, the zits, the peeing (THE PEEING), the aching back. I forgot, once, what it felt like to lay comfortably prone.

I know what it is to feel a constant worry that my body was effectively knitting a human.

I was pregnant with more than that, though – I was pregnant in the figurative sense with questions, with wonder. I wanted to know who it was that was kicking my ribs, and what motherhood would be like.

It’s been over seven years, for me, since I was newly pregnant. I can tell you the answers to my rolling pregnancy questions. My son is a total goof, with giant teeth and a bigger smile, a hard head, a manic love of puns. One daughter is an artist, an introvert, a Batman-obsessed genius with giant blue eyes. The other is a firecracker, alive with energy and charisma.

I didn’t know, then, WHO they were, these creatures for whom the word “love” is entirely insufficient. All I had was a huge belly, massive, but not as big as it felt. I had an aching back, and I had to pee. I could reach down and touch my giant belly, and with it, feel the physical sensation of pregnancy, of waiting for these crazy kids to show up.

And for a moment, every time I touch a pregnant belly, the two moments in time blend together. The waiting, physical and emotional, embodied and swollen, making me waddle. My children, then as swirly kicky things. My children, now. And me, spending months at Life’s Most Uncomfortable Bus Stop, waiting for the show to begin.

And that’s me, a mid-mothering mother. Imagine the way your pregnant belly feels to the mother whose last baby has just left for college, or is soon to bring forth her first grandchild. Imagine!

Someday, Pregnant Lady, you’ll know this feeling, too. And then, maybe some other pregnant lady will give you the chance, however fleeting, to time travel back to now.

I promise, I’ll just say, “Beautiful, you’re glowing,” and then be on my way. You’ll make a sarcastic comment under your breath, about how clearly I don’t remember the indignities of knitting a human. “GLOWING?!” your eyes will roll. And then you’ll go find a bathroom, because you totally need to pee.

Also, I’ve heard it’s really good luck for your baby. Seriously, just let me touch your belly for a second.

**SIGH, I’ve never actually asked a stranger to touch her belly. I won’t ask you, either, Pregnant Lady. I know you have enough going on, and some people are just not into being touched. Every time a friend lets me feel her baby kick, though, MAN does it make my day. Also, for what it’s worth, every time an old lady rubbed my belly in the grocery store, which did happen once or twice, I was cool with it.

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Maddie is a recent transplant to the Northern Kentucky Area, where she moved last spring after a decade in Columbus, OH. She’s the mom of three kids: A son, born in 2009, and twin girls, born in 2011. This is as exhausting as it sounds. Luckily, she thrives on chaos. She balances the glamour of working full time with the rigors of first grade homework, playing dress-up, and moving mountains (both metaphorical mountains, and mountains of laundry). She had hobbies once, but doesn’t quite remember what they were. Now, when she gets a moment of free time, she uses it to catch up on her wine and/or sleep, usually in that order. She also loves to cooking, running, singing badly while playing her guitar even worse, and reading.

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