Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My face is up here

I was never one of those women who were, shall we say, overly endowed in the chest region. (My high school friends, the guys, once made an illustration of the group of us as Robin Hood characters, and my title was "Maid VeryFlat". It was pretty hilarious.) I do have a bit of a rear end, which was something I needed to learn to live with when I worked in an inner-city neighborhood, but if I'm facing someone, they tend to look me in the eye.

Or at least they did, until a few weeks ago.

The size of my mammaries has increased impressively, but that's not what folks are looking at. They're checking out the belly. As I move toward the halfway-mark of this pregnancy, I have certainly "popped": there's no hiding what I've got going on in my midsection. And people have a tendency to look. I don't mind this - I certainly notice when other pregnant women walk by - but it does take some getting used to.

I've also noticed there are different types of looks.

DH, of course, is in his own category of belly-looking. He can't help but rub the belly and smile at it, and he keeps talking about how he's looking forward to feeling a kick someday soon. He tells me daily that the belly is cute, which makes me melt some days and just makes me feel better other days (because, fascinating as the process is, there are days when I am not feeling "cute"). His unabashed enjoyment of the belly is just nice.

Other people who know me, like relatives, friends, or coworkers, take glances at the belly that I'd describe as affectionate : these are folks who are looking forward to meeting the kid who's making this bump happen, and who are excited about watching me and DH become parents.

I don't mind these looks at all. Occasionally, they've been accompanied by touch, but a friendly pat from someone I know or the loving touch of this child's father are welcome. So far I haven't had strangers touching me, and I'm not sure how that will make me feel when it happens.

But I have had strangers looking, and these looks can run the gamut.

The most common and innocuous look so far is the quiet-smile look. Thus far I've noticed this look is a bit divided along gender lines. If I'm walking down the sidewalk and a woman passes me going the other way, she'll generally take a gander at the belly and then make quick eye contact with a brief smile as we both continue on our way. Men tend to eschew the eye contact, but not the smile - I've had a few moments where I've seen a guy just smiling away at my belly.

I always try to imagine what these people are thinking, and my guess is that women who make eye contact have possibly gone through pregnancy themselves or are close with another woman who has, and they instinctively give that little smile of support to an expectant mother because they've been there and they know it's not all rainbows and gumdrops, sister. I get more of a sense from the men that they're perhaps recalling a pregnant woman they know, maybe the mother of their own kids. With those men, the smile is often more of an inward reflection than an outward interaction.

I don't mind any of these looks. I enjoy making people smile.

Then there are... the other looks. So far this has happened to me only once, but it made my skin crawl.

I've established that men tend not to make eye contact with me if they're looking at my belly. But there's a stark difference between the man who just took a glance at my baby bump and is briefly thinking of a mother or a baby he cares about, and a man who is leering at my belly and thinking of... well, I try not to ponder it too much. I was walking out of the grocery store last week when a man who was leaning on a garbage can (already klassy!) got a good look at me and was clearly enjoying some impure thoughts. Iccccchh... I kind of felt like I needed to take a shower.

I guess it makes sense if you're a total pervert: We all know what must have happened a few months ago for me to have this bump. But... really? Can't we think about the baby? Or about anything else? Or at least keep our lip-smacking leers to ourselves? Why you gotta skeeve this up, dude?

Oh, well, if the ratio is roughly one icky look to 40 nice looks, I guess I'll take it. But no guarantees I won't hit the next gross-looker with my bag of groceries. The one that's full of cans.

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