Of Pregnancy and Public

I am 39 weeks pregnant and due to meet baby any day now.  Thank God.  I am so ready to be done being pregnant.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t disliked being pregnant.  I’ve had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and have really loved the feeling of baby growing and kicking and turning.  It has been amazing to have this completely unique connection to what will very soon be a tiny little person.  I will never have this connection with him or her again, and I have cherished it.  I’ve liked being pregnant.
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Me and my mom at one of my baby showers
What I have utterly detested is being pregnant in public.  My mom told me once that I am a very private person. Until she said that, I hadn’t thought of myself that way. She pointed out that despite how comfortable I am talking with people, being outgoing, and sharing about my life, I stay very private. I am capable of sharing my life story with someone and still revealing nothing about how I think and feel about the world. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not, but I don’t let many people see things I don’t want them to see.
Pregnancy has been a very jarring experience because of that. It is something so personal and so special to me, but it is something that others can know just by looking at me. And it is something about me that, consciously or not, people feel they have a right to. They ask about it constantly, they offer advice, they smile and say “aw” at my belly, they invade and impose. And it is all from a place of joy and love and so I smile back and answer and thank and laugh. I’m happy to be pregnant and I don’t mind talking about it. But that’s when it is my choice and on my terms. And it rarely is. It’s exhausting for me. Being pregnant should not make me everyone else’s business. It should not take away my personhood or my privacy. It shouldn’t take away my power to talk about my life on my own terms. But it does.
Being pregnant has defined me to the rest of the world since I shared the news and started showing.  If pregnant women seem easily annoyed, consider the idea that it may not be hormones.  It may simply be the fact that they have not been seen as their own person for the past nine months.  It’s enough to make anyone a bit cranky.
I never get asked “how’s it going” at work anymore. Now it’s “how are you feeling?” That isn’t really a question about me, it’s about the pregnancy. It is well meaning and sincere, but it does not change the fact that it is a question asked of a pregnant person, not a peer.  Now that I’m at the end of my pregnancy, I’m getting a lot of “Is the baby here yet?” questions.  No, the baby is not here yet.  Obviously. If it was, I am pretty sure I would have mentioned it.  It has been nine months of this sort of thing, and I am very ready to be done with it.
I have loved being pregnant, and I am so excited to meet my baby and be a mom.   But pregnant women do not stop being their own person.  Below are some suggested questions to ask instead of asking about the pregnancy:
How was your weekend?
Have you seen any good movies lately?
Do you have any fun plans this week?
What are you thoughts on (insert current event here)?
Can I get your take on this project?
Where in the world would you love to travel?
Do you have any good book recommendations?
I wish I had been asked more questions like that over the last few months.  It would have reminded me that I am still interesting, still have something to share, am still more than what is happening with my body.  When you define someone by their body or biology, you deny their humanity and take away their autonomy.   I have become much quieter in the last few months.  I hope this side effect of pregnancy is one that will fade away – not just for me personally, but for all women someday.  We are still ourselves, and we can be asked more.
Photos of me while pregnant.

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