Most pregnant women will relate, I think, to the public interest onslaught that begins once you announce to the world the happy news that you are pregnant. (Sometimes it begins before you've told anyone; that's even worse). It's as if that unspoken rule, the one that says that it is totally inappropriate to comment upon a woman's figure, general appearance and diet, is on a temporary suspension and suddenly it's completely acceptable to be saying things like 'Ooh, you're so BIG' or 'Gosh, look at the way you're filling out'.
Add to this the fact that you are an odd-looking foreigner and it's basically open season. I'm 20 weeks pregnant and right in the midst of it.
Last week I was told 'Oh, it's so disappointing. I was really hoping you'd have some sort of bump by now.' Five minutes later another person felt the need to say 'Wow, are you sure it's not twins?' (How original).
The other day, a particularly attractive builder thought he would lean out of his van window and send a terribly pleasant belch down my ear. On another building site I was blown kisses.
A few weeks ago a very well-educated professional gave a horrified shriek and wrenched me upright. 'Never, ever crouch like that! The baby could fall out!'.
Another kind (alarmist) soul panicked when I pulled a mug out of a cupboard. 'Please don't raise your arms like that. You might twist the umbilical cord around the baby's neck.' I was six weeks pregnant.
And let's not even start on food. I've struggled with hyperemesis (extreme sickness) this pregnancy, to the point that I spent a miserable nine days in hospital on a drip while every medication known to man (or pregnant woman, at least) was injected into me. Just thinking about some of the foods that were offered to me as cures for my ailment makes me nauseous. When you have hyperemesis, even Godiva chocolates make the stomach churn. Soured plums and boiled tofu do much, much worse things.
|Eating for two isn't as much fun with hyperemesis.|
What I should state, loud and clearly here, is that these interactions have been with people from all walks of life and all sorts of nationalities too. The dutiful diplomat's wife mingles with people from all over the globe, and if there's one lesson I'm learning, it's that comments about a woman's pregnant body, nauseating cures and old wives tales aren't the domain of the Malaysians, nor the Brits nor the Aussies. They are a global passion.
Never mind. In another 20 or so weeks time, that other unspoken rule will kick into action: Once that pregnancy glow has disappeared but the mum tum hasn't, it once again becomes completely inappropriate to say anything less complimentary to a new mum than 'Wow, you look amazing.' That is, of course, if anyone notices you at all. I can't wait!