Being pregnant comes with all sorts of little surprises that you aren’t expecting. Things like excruciating rib pain because your intercostal muscles are having to do the job your diaphragm usually does or farting silently, but persistently for long stretches of time like some sort of leaky balloon. (No, really. I’ve had it go on for 2-3 minutes, no breaks. So gross, and because it’s completely uncontrollable, often mortifying.) Among the more surprising things I’ve encountered, though, is how much more people want to talk to you when you’re pregnant.
Take, for instance, standard greetings. Most encounters or conversations start out with, or are even comprised entirely of, a casual, “Hi! How are you?” This greeting is so common that it’s the first interchange you learn pretty much anytime you are learning a new language, and for the most part, in any language, the response is a canned, “Good,” or “Fine,” or “Alright.” Very rarely is the response an accurate or detailed reflection of how the person is actually doing, and very rarely does anyone expect or care about getting a real answer. It’s just a pleasantry that must be exchanged due to social custom before moving on. (Some people complain about this. I’m not one of those people.)
When you’re pregnant, though? No one just asks, “How’s it going?” You’ll find yourself flippantly answering, “Fine,” or “Pretty good,” and think that the person is going to quickly move on, but instead end up with an awkward moment where the other person is staring at you expectantly to elaborate. Sometimes they’ll even ask the question again. “So things are going well? You’re feeling okay?”
I always find this to be sort of uncomfortable–especially when I’m at work or somewhere else where my pregnancy really is irrelevant. My personal preference is to gloss over it with a “everything’s great” (even when it hasn’t been) and get on to business. People want and expect you to be open with them about your pregnancy, though, and are usually not satisfied until you’ve given them some extra details about your experience growing another human. When you don’t give the more detailed response, you will usually find that people are surprised or even possibly think you’re sort of weird or rude. They’ll be taken aback that you don’t want to spend 5 minutes talking about the fact that the skin around your belly button is pulling in a way that is exceedingly uncomfortable or that your boobs have started randomly leaking colostrum.
Actually, they don’t want to hear about these things, either. They want you to tell them about how much the baby is kicking or funny cravings you’ve had or your nesting habits, which are fine, but are only a tiny fraction of the pregnancy experience and which you honestly probably have far less to say about than the fact that you farted for two solid minutes while you were getting ready for work this morning.
>Regardless, I’ve found that, in general, you suddenly become a lot more interesting to people when you’re pregnant. People will not only want to touch your belly, but they’ll want to talk to you about the baby and the preparations you are making and what names you have picked out and how excited you are. Oh, yes. Excitement and enthusiasm are expected, and moms-to-be who aren’t brimming with joy about pregnancy are viewed with almost as much confusion/hostility as moms-to-be who don’t want to go into great detail about their pregnancy in general.
Being pregnant in any social situation is plain weird in general. Like with strangers touching your belly, or people who barely know you policing what you eat/drink, it’s like once you become pregnant, you’re not really a normal person anymore. You become sort of a community project, here for everyone to probe and advise and monitor. As a person who’s always been very independent and sort of a loner, it’s been a disconcerting experience for me. I’m used to going about my own business most of the time with minimal outside interference. Now, though, people are constantly looking at me, talking to me, asking me questions, giving me advice. I know a lot of people really enjoy that sort of attention, but I miss just being myself and I’ve been surprised the extent to which most people stop thinking of you as the person you are, in favor of viewing you almost exclusively as an incubator for another person.