On the Kindness of Strangers

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Walking around town with a big belly gets a lot more attention than I ever anticipated.  And I have to say: I am loving it!  Strangers stop me nearly every day to inquire when I’m due (October 15!), what I’m having (A little boy!), if this is my first (Yep!  First one!) how I’m feeling (Great!), or sometimes even just to smile and say, “Congratulations” without stopping where they’re walking.  One woman even held the door open for me on the way into the restroom and let me go first, saying, “I’ve been there three times myself, mama.  You go right on ahead!”.  It really is just so sweet and every time someone goes out of their way to be nice to me simply because I’m pregnant, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with sappy gratitude and joy.

Sure, I’ve gotten some questions or comments directed my way that haven’t been as nice, like being called crazy for any number of reasons, including (but not limited to) wanting a natural birth, wanting to cloth diaper, or for being determined not to let my house get overrun by plastic baby things strewn everywhere.  (To be fair though, most of those comments haven’t come from strangers, but from closer acquaintances and family members, which brings to mind – why is it that strangers can be nicer than the people who actually know you?  I digress…)  But for the most part, people are so kind and so excited for me that it makes it easy to stay in a positive state of mind. 

At 31 weeks (I’m 33 weeks now), people started telling me I looked like I was literally about to “pop any day now” and I would just smile and say, “Oh, I still have two more months.  You ain’t seen nothin‘ yet.”  I know a lot of women get sensitive with comments regarding their size or how big they are, but even those don’t bother me because I know they don’t mean any harm.  People just like big pregnant ladies!

Every week I go to Whole Foods around lunchtime, grab something to eat from the salad or hot bar and eat in the cafe before starting my grocery shopping.  One day I grabbed the last seat left next to a man who struck up a conversation, congratulating me and asking the usual questions (see above) and we ended up talking the entire meal.  He, sharing stories and passing on important tidbits he had learned from fatherhood, and me taking note, trying to remember it all but knowing full well that exhaustion and a real live BABY will likely cause me to forget a lot.  Before he left, he congratulated me again and said, “Just trust your instincts.  You’ll be a great mom.” and I was left staring at my salad with big elephant tears threatening to drop any second.  The kindness of strangers.  It’s really something, isn’t it?

Did you have similar reactions when you were pregnant?  Did people stop you everywhere to congratulate and ask you the usual questions?  I wonder if it is cultural or if people everywhere are generally enthusiastic about seeing a (very obviously) pregnant woman out and about.  And I wonder if it’s because I don’t have any other children with me that makes them assume it’s my first and if that is somehow more exciting.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

8 Responses to “On the Kindness of Strangers”

  1. Lana

    It may be a little bit to do with where you are. Im in Texas and although generally a friendly state, I didn’t’ get too many comments or out of the way kindness. Although once i was about due i got a few “your curves are hot” comments haha.

    Do you have an email? I have some thoughts on having a boy I’d like to share because no one shared them with me and from what I’ve gathered you and I are on the same page with everything (it’s just food for thought).

  2. Tiffaniepiphany

    I had quite a few of those… My favorite was I was waiting in line at a store, and the guy behind me apparently wasn’t paying much attention. I has turned to talk to my sister, and he saw my profile, (at about 38 weeks) and he erupted with “WHOA! SOMEBODY’s pregnant!” … I started laughing, and replied “Well I’m only 5′ tall, so it can only go in one direction… Out!”

    I got a lot of concerned comments from friends too, bc I had a home births, with a midwife for both my kids. Half of them acted like I was crazy taking such a risk with my health, but once I explained that it wasn’t like I was planning to just squat outside… That I had a licensed midwife, who would attend and assist, she had over 15 yrs experience and she had oxygen, medications etc, on hand and she always contacted the local ambulance that a planned home birth was ongoing in the event that we needed to transfer to hospital… They where like “oh!”…
    Btw both my births where difficult (thats why its called labour)…. And i did have to transfer to the hospital with my 1st, and my 2nd home birth was just as eventful, but everyone turned out healthy….

    Here’s a natural birthing tip… BANISH FEAR! Your ability to cope with the fact that your body is pretty much doing this whether you like it or not, you HAVE TO banish fear! Be confident in your body’s design, and the ability of whom ever is helping you (whether your in a hospital, birthing center, or whatever)…with The 1st baby, labour is always a little scary because you have no idea what to expect, but you need to avoid the “fight or flight” response, bc it will slow your progress and make the contractions less effective… And if your Husband wants to be there, make him go to a lamaze class, so he knows what his job is… Basically to help you focus, on what your doing… Otherwise, the men end up scared, standing in a corner not knowing what to do! Lol

    • Katy

      This is great advice! Fear is a constant presence in the back of my mind, though we took the “birthing from within” class and that certainly helped. I know I’ll be fine, but it’s that fear of the unknown that is scariest I guess…the fear of really not knowing what to expect the pain to be like. But you’re right – I will just have to surrender and let my body do what it’s gotta do!

  3. Susan Atwood

    Thanks for such an uplifting note today. Not having experienced pregnancy I have so enjoyed your joy in it!

  4. Audra

    Katy- this was so sweet! I (aaaalmost) miss being pregnant after reading that! That guys is so right, trust your insticts. You’re gonna be awesome! And even if you do mess things up every now and then, you’ll still be the one that hung that little man’s moon. He’ll never know. ;) Cant wait to meet him!!

  5. Becky

    I’m sure you look great!! Almost done!! As for those three topics you get trouble for, cloth diapers, natural birth, and a clean house, you CAN have all of them. I got so sick of defending cloth diapering it was exhausting. But I sure got a kick out of those questions a few months in when I could confidently respond “we LOVE cloth diapering! It’s going great!!” You will love it!

    I’m a few weeks behind you prepping for natural birth #2…this one more planned though. Hiring a doula was too on our list and we are so happy we did. For some awesome natural birth stories, read “Baby Catcher”. It’s so amazing. You can do it!!

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