Any woman who has been pregnant before has told me that strangers will come up to you in public places and touch your belly. I didn’t believe them because that had not happened to me. I wasn’t even experiencing that from people who know me pretty well. Tracy said I must have a “Touch me and die” look that I give to people. Well apparently, that “look” was not what was detouring people, maybe it was just that my belly had not yet reached the point that says, “Hey – here I am – feel free to encroach on my personal space.” We were in Wal-mart on Wednesday evening, standing in the produce section, trying to decide what side dish we should have with our grilled burgers. Tracy wanted something green, I just wanted potatoes, of course. We had finally decided to just buy some cucumbers. We had almost made it out of the produce section when this lady walks by me, stops for about 5 seconds, reaches out and pats my protruding belly, giggles, and merrily goes on her way. Tracy looked at me, perplexed and said, “Do you know her?” I looked at him, equally shocked and replied, “No!” “Oh no,” I thought, “It’s happening.” My belly has officially become this public space for absolute strangers to offer their up-close congratulations.
Even my students are trying to get in on these belly rubs. The other day I was walking around my classroom, assisting the children, with my hand on my stomach. One of my little girls looked up at me and asked, “Is he kicking?” When I said yes, she immediately asked if she could feel it. I said no, but at least she asked before attacking me. That same day, I was leaned over a desk answering a question one of my little boys had. Instead of paying the least bit of attention to my response, he was staring at my belly. Before I knew it, he had the eraser end of his pencil coming toward me and began gently tapping my belly with it. I gave him the “What in the world are you thinking” look. He looked up and said, “Sorry.”
I am a little usure of what exactly compels people to touch a pregnant woman’s belly. I don’t know if it’s the baby that’s growing inside or if it’s just the mystery of the miracle that’s taking place. I’d like to believe that my belly is my space, but I think for the next seven weeks or so, I am just going to have to accept the fact that people are going to reach out and touch.