The Reassuring Kick

Somehow, while pregnant, I believed that I would instinctively remember every moment of my pregnancy; when and where every little moment occurred, but sadly, somehow, with the amnesia that follows childbirth, so go some of the details of the most intense moments of my life. I do remember that first flutter of my growing baby, I remember the way my belly felt as it grew (that slight tugging on the muscles and skin; and I instantly knew why pregnant women rub their belly’s-because it feels soooo good on those stretching muscles) I remember sitting at my desk at work and feeling that first real kick. That first solid hello from my little one! With excitement, I texted Kevin to tell him that our little one is now kicking “hello”! He was thrilled! And now, we had a way to tell that our baby is alive and well and thriving, without the help of an ultrasound. Every time the baby would kick, Kevin would try to feel it from the outside. He could hardly wait for the day when he could feel our little Bean move around, and when it finally happened, the wait was totally worth it! And the first time we saw movement across my belly, we laughed through our tears of joy. Soon, BellyBean’s activity became an everyday occurrence, and we felt reassured with every movement and every kick that our little one was growing healthy and strong.

Each ultrasound showed that we were correct in our assumptions that BellyBean was growing exactly on track. I was due December 27th and my OBGYN, in an effort to keep me from having a Christmas baby and so that she would be the one on call at the hospital to deliver my baby, we set my induction for Friday, December 21st–if I made it that far, because this baby was growing fast.

Full Disclosure: I am 5 feet tall. Some doctors or nurses may try to sell you on the actual fact that I am 4’11.5”, but that just isn’t true. I’m 5 feet tall. At the time I got pregnant, I weighed about 92 pound. Please save all the “weight shaming” and comments that I really should have or should be eating more. I’ve heard all the short, skinny girl comments possible: “well you just ever grow, did you?” “do you ever eat?” “I wish I was skinny like you…” “where do you find clothes you fit you, the kids section?” ” how can you possibly be healthy, being so skinny?” “You need a cheeseburger.”

My answers progressively get shorter with each year of age. I don’t find I need to explain myself. I don’t need to tell people that “everyone in my family is short. My mom is 72 and skinny too. I have a fast metabolism. No, I find clothes that fit just fine and they aren’t from the kids section. And I’m very healthy, thanks. And I had a cheeseburger last night.” My answers came down to pretty much; “nope. yeah. not really the problem you would think it is. I’m very healthy-how about you?”

If you have ever been pregnant before, or had a parter that has been; you understand when I tell you that once you become pregnant, the outside world does not respect your personal space, autonomy or privacy any longer. I work at a doctor’s office, and many of our patients are regulars, every 4-6 weeks or every few months. While 90% of them were happy for me, excited for regular updates and filled me in on stories of their own kids or grandkids, there was the 10%. Ahhhh, the 10%. Can I be honest? These people were assholes. Rude, invasive, know-it-all assholes. Because I’m fairly small, and my growing baby was hitting all the growth milestones perfectly, I was showing very quickly and getting bigger by the day. And I was all belly. The 10% would regularly ask if I was sure I wasn’t having twins. Was I actually farther along than I thought? Was the baby freakishly big? How big is the baby’s dad? And my answers started out as, “no, just one. No, I’m (insert however far along I was). No, the baby is right on track. And not really, dad is 5′ 10″.” Towards the end of my pregnancy, my answers got more aggressive: “Wow, I don’t know. I should ask my doctors if I”m having twins, it’s never come up. And, I might be farther along than I thought. You obviously know my body better than I do, so I should talk to my doctors and see if you are right. And one woman was particularly awful in her line of questioning, so I responded “Well, if the dad is who I think it is, he’s not a giant.”

Then there were the women, and a couple of men, who found it appropriate to grab my every growing belly. A couple of people that I knew did so, caught themselves and asked if it was ok. Then there was the lady in the grocery store, around my age, who exclaimed “OMG- you’re pregnant! How cute!”, and then reached for my belly. Using the shopping cart as a shield, I stepped behind it and gave her a “touch me and die” look. I don’t want you touching my belly or my baby once he or she is out here in the world. I don’t know you!

In saying all of this, I want to remind you, dear reader, or maybe inform you for the first time, that pregnant women are still people. They are not some freak show or member of a petting zoo, and unless they invite your touch, criticism or advise, please, please keep it to yourself. Share stories of when you or your partner were pregnant, share the wondrous stories of your grandchildren, but save the horror stories or tales of sick children for a later…much later date. Women who are pregnant are doing their best to stay healthy, learn how to deal with their ever-changing bodies, and protect the little life they are creating. They are too busy creating an ear or an eyeball to worry about what you think of how they look or what they should be eating, or if they should still be working. The first couple of times you offer unsolicited advice, you may get a kind response, but after that, you may get an answer resembling a kick.

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