I have totally embraced this whole pregnant madonna thing. I flaunt my giant belly and I don’t feel bad about it, swim in my bikini and I think I’ve even mastered that knowing yet mysterious smile that seems to be part of the role. There are plenty of weird things about being pregnant, and much that is uncomfortable, but I think I’ve embraced the aesthetic of it.
Part of being so openly pregnant means that people feel entitled to ask me questions. Obviously friends and family will ask about things, but I’m always entertained by the questions that strangers think are cool to ask. The worst part is, I know I’ve asked the same things of other pregnant women, but it’s still sort of strange to think what’s normal when in fact it’s such a personal experience. So these are the most common personal questions strangers ask pregnant women, at least in my experience.
5 – Is this your first?
This is one I get a lot. I guess it makes sense since people see me on my own instead of already attached to an infant or other small child. But what if this isn’t my first pregnancy, or my first kid and there’s some horror story that goes with it? I appreciate the sentiment – people want to be excited with me for my first experience of motherhood, but it’s only now that I’m struck by how probing the question really might be.
4 – Can I touch it?
Look, I’m glad people ask first. Plenty of people assume that they can just touch, which is really weird seeing as no one tried to touch my stomach when I wasn’t pregnant. Still, it’s a strange thing and can be rather personal and uncomfortable. I generally stick with the “people I know can touch it, but no one else” in much the same way as I do for the rest of my body, but it feels like I’m somehow offending people by saying “no, you can’t touch my baby-filled stomach because I don’t even know your name”.
3 – Are you planning to breastfeed?
This is invariably asked with the judgment clear in the eyes of the person asking. No knowledge of the mother needs to exist to already start pre-judging her on plans to have a baby suck on her boobs for the next bunch of months (or years). I do plan to breastfeed, but I’ve met plenty of people who were unable to for a range of reasons. It’s great to plan for it, and yes there are a ton of benefits to breastfeeding, but asking a pregnant woman who is filled with hormones if she plans to breastfeed can end up sounding like “do you plan on doing what’s best for your baby or are you somehow broken?”
2 – How long until you have your second kid?
Once we establish that this is my first child, one of the next questions is often when I’m planning to have a second one. Um, can I not get through this experience first? What if I’m not planning a second, or what if there are problems and I’m unable to have a second one? Of course, any answer you give will be wrong – planning to wait a few years? Oh, that’s far too big an age gap. Planning to start trying once kid #1 is a year or so old? That will be hard with two kids so young. Plus there’s no consideration of your family situation, if you are able to afford or have room for another kid, just that you should grow your family, and keep growing it.
1 – Are you planning a natural birth or C-section?
Translation: will you be pushing a baby the size of a watermelon out through a hole the size of a lemon, or undergoing major surgery whereby you’re basically cut in half in order to have your child removed from your body? Neither of these options is going to be particularly comfortable, and they both have recovery periods involved. Added to that is the fact that I might not have a choice.
But the question is asked with the same kind of judgment as the breastfeeding question where it is implied that natural is best and any other decision is a sign that I won’t do the best thing for my princess. It’s all such a personal experience, one that is starting to worry me as I approach my due date (although I’m mostly trying to use denial and diversion instead of thinking about it). To be nonchalantly asked about my birth plan seems to be so incredibly common, despite how intensely personal the journey will be.