There’s not really an established protocol for social interaction with acquaintances when you are pregnant. With those people to whom you are close, questions are, for the most part, pretty standard. Although, I must say, I’m getting pretty tired of people asking me how I’m feeling all the damn time. “Pregnant!” I want to shout, “I feel fucking Pregnant!”
Most of the time, people don’t really care what the answer to that question is either. It’s the only thing they can ask, though, and so it’s the default topic of conversation. I don’t like being the focus of attention in a conversation, so I try to turn it around on them. At times, people seem happy to have the topic acknowledged and the social cue to move on. However, there have been some bizarre interactions.
Once, in passing someone I sort of know in the hallway, I answered that I was just fine, and asked the person how they were. “Well, I’M not the one who’s pregnant!” she snapped, as though I was somehow getting away with something by not being the expected degree of miserable and daring to ask how she was doing. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that, but by then, we’d passed each other and the expectation to keep talking was thankfully over.
Over the holidays, our hospital gives away a meal for all employees, so we all line up and queue through a serpentine to pick it up. It’s a pretty efficient operation, I must say, but a doctor who I never met before noticed my belly and told the staff to “give her double! she’s eating for two!” I was shocked because it was awfully presumptuous of him to say so. I get it that he was trying to be friendly, but honestly, it was really off-putting.
The other day, I was coming back from lunch with a bag in hand, and the greeter outside my building says, “Hey! Here comes fatty!” This was a new one for me. Even if I had been an overweight person, I couldn’t imagine a scenario where saying that to someone would be acceptable. My expression must have really conveyed how hurt I was by that statement, because then he tried to give me a hug, which I suppose made it a little better.
We need to establish a nicer way of saying to established pregnant ladies, “Greetings fellow human, I notice that your appearance has altered in some way. It in no way affects my affection for you, unless to improve it, as you are enduring what is surely an uncomfortable gestation. Let us rejoice in the fact that you are still the same person, and carry on with our normal interaction having acknowledged this development.” Anything’s better than “here comes fatty!”