This morning R found a funny passage in Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul. (A friend loaned her this book back before she was pregnant because it also had some stories about miracle pregnancies. This friend has great foresight, obviously.) The writer points out some of her pet peeves during the later months of pregnancy:
When you're pregnant, you get accustomed to hearing the same comments over and over. 'When is the baby due?' My response now: 'This year.' 'What is it?' I answer, 'Well, it's either a boy or a girl.' 'You're very big.' (This can come in several forms. 'Are you carrying twins?' 'You look ready to pop,' and the 'You haven't had that baby yet?') In answer to these I find the best response is, 'Yes, you're right, I'm enormous. I hadn't realized that. Thank you for pointing it out.'People have a real knack for asking obvious questions. I guess they just don't know what else to ask. If you encounter someone who's university age, you are inclined to ask, "Are you still in school?" If you see someone who's single you want to ask, "Are you married yet?" You don't realize you should ask about the person's recent trip to Toronto to watch Spamalot, because you don't have any idea that they've just been to see Spamalot. Instead, we all ask pregnant ladies senseless questions about the obvious -- their expanding tummies.
Being only in week 8, R has not had any of these questions; however, she's had to deal with her own type of of awkward questions for the last few years. Since she was out of university, already married, and not carrying a baby, people asked, "Are you having kids soon?" or "Do you have children yet?" or "When are you going to have kids?" For some reason no one asked, "How many mature follicles do you think you'll get during your next IUI treatment?" or "Do you still pray every night that you'll have a baby?" or even "How are you and your husband coping with your childless state?" Sadly, people just don't know enough about your life to ask the meaningful questions that will elicit a truly emotional outburst. But they seem to do pretty well with the questions they do ask.
At first, R would sidestep questions about having kids because she really thought it was no one's business what she did with her life or her family; however, she found this often left her upset and the other person oblivious. I took a completely different tact: when people asked me questions I told them the answers... or at least some kind of answer.
"When are you going to have kids?"
"Tomorrow. We're thinking we'll just drop by the maternity ward and see what's available."
"Have you thought about having kids?"
"Yes, but we're waiting for the planets to align."
Sometimes I would just launch into a detailed chronology of our fertility woes. That greatly suited some people and completely shocked the rest. The experience was memorable enough that people would only ask again if they really wanted to hear the details. R also adapted this approach, and it served her very well. People began to understand us better, and they could ask better questions. Now, back to the pregnant lady from the Chicken Soup book:
But the worst thing is when people I barely know touch my belly. I guess they figure that since it's out there, it's for public use. Would they touch my belly in I weren't pregnant? One of my friends commented 'Maybe they're making a wish, or hoping for good luck.' I think the next time people touch my belly, I'll touch theirs.According to Wikipedia, "The Laughing Buddha" (called Hotei) is the figure frequently used in Chinese temples, who has a large smile, a large belly and a large sack filled with precious items. The tradition persists in popular folklore that rubbing Hotei's belly will bring a person luck.
If you have to rub somebody's belly, next time skip the pregnant lady -- Hotei is the one who might bring you luck.