People warned me that when I fell pregnant, my body would no longer be my own. I thought they meant that I’d be sharing space with the baby and I was absolutely fine with that. I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember and couldn’t wait until my bump started to show and I could feel the baby move.
They should have said my belly would no longer be my own. I really didn’t mind close friends touching my belly, but as soon as I was obviously pregnant and not just a tad podgy, strangers seemed to gravitate toward my bump, hands outstretched to touch me. The first time it happened I was so taken aback that I just stood gaping at the woman. What I wanted to do was smack her hand away, but my mother raised me to be polite so I backed away instead.
Other moms advised me to touch the offending person’s stomach, but I’m not one for conflict of any kind so every time it happened I’d step back or turn around. It got to the point where I’d rearrange my bag to cover my bump if an approaching person looked like a belly-toucher. I don’t understand why people feel the need to touch the bump of a complete stranger. If it was fat instead of a baby, they wouldn’t even give me a second glance.
I hated that every belly-toucher assumed I was okay with it. Grr. I wanted to wear a shirt that said “Hands off!” or “Don’t provoke the hormonal pregnant woman!” I think I’ll have them made for Baby #2.
I consoled myself that once Angelique was born, people would stop invading my personal space. Alas, I was wrong. There’s been no more inappropriate belly-touching, but I have experienced a worse kind of invasion.
My husband and I visited a church one Sunday not too long ago. Angelique’s feeding time fell during the service, so I sat in the cry room with her. She was still feeding when the service ended and people started leaving the church. I’d covered her with a blanket so she wouldn’t be disturbed if anyone happened to come into the cry room.
A group of women entered, wanting to see the baby. One by one, they reached for the blanket. Horrified, I gasped out, “She’s feeding!” All but one accepted my refusal and stood back. One determined woman shook her head in amusement (and a touch of condescension) and said, “It’s not like I haven’t seen breasts before.”
“You haven’t seen mine,” I said, and tightened my grip on the blanket.
“Just a peek. I just want to see the baby.” She tried to lift the blanket, which I held onto as if my life depended on keeping it closed.
“You’re going to have to wait until she’s finished feeding.” I tried to glare at her as she left the room but I think my expression was closer to shock and horror.
Now, I’m not a complete prude. There are people I will happily breastfeed in front of without a blanket. My husband, my mother and close friends make it onto that very short list. Random ladies I’ve never met before, not so much.
Next time it happens, maybe I’ll be brave enough to ask to see her boobs first.