The belly is now another entity, quite separate from you, but generally the object of attention or discussion. So you could be ‘really big’ or ‘hardly showing’ and you know what they are talking about.
Somewhere in the fifth or sixth month of your pregnancy, you stop existing. It is as though you might as well have been somewhere else, or had an out-of-body experience of sorts because no one really cares about you. They are all talking to the bump. It’s as though you are your bump, and that’s all the identity you have. Nothing is about you anymore, what you think, what you feel, who you are. Some of them don’t even have a real conversation with you. They look at you, look at the bump, look at you again as if to say, ‘Is that what I think it is?’
Once you get used to pregnancy lingo, it’s more of the same.
She: (pointing to bump) Are you…?
She: (still pointing to bump) How many months?
You: Twenty-six weeks.
She: (slightly foxed) That’s err…six months?
You: It’s twenty-six weeks.
And if you do something out of character in your new avatar, like use swear words or randomly start shaking a leg at an office party, or have a glass of wine or jump into the pool, you will be treated as some sort of weirdo.
‘Is it okay for the baby?’
Suddenly, no one is discussing sexual politics with you, or relationship blues, or office romances or even dating dynamics. You are out of the radar, off-limits, almost holier than thou. Even your best friends have stopped talking to you about stuff you used to talk about. All they are interested in is: ‘How does it feel? Is it kicking?’
Of course, good things happen, too. You have random niceties happening at work. People are opening doors for you. People stop smoking around you. Office boy brings you tea before you ask for it. Exactly the way you want it. People who never smiled at you before in corridors begin to smile.
More questions will continue in the months to follow, depending on the degree of familiarity.
‘So, is the baby kicking yet?’
‘How do you know if the baby is sleeping or awake?’
‘Is it true that you can sense the baby eating your food?’
‘Can you tell where the head is and where the legs are?’
‘Does the baby punch too?’
‘Can it smile? Laugh?’
‘Does it have hair yet?’
‘Will you let me touch you when it kicks?’
‘How does the baby pee? Poo?’
(An excerpt from my book, ‘I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!“)