22 Weeks Pregnant: Public Property

01/09/2013 23:33 | Updated 22 May 2015

I'm not sure if anyone else feels the same way, but since I've started to show, people definitely react to me differently. It's not just my family, mates and colleagues who know I'm pregnant, but also complete strangers in the street, in shops, on the train and bus, and in restaurants. Maybe I'm being over sensitive, but I don't think so!

I first noticed this a couple of weeks ago when I was in the supermarket, doing our usual weekly shop. P and I usually do this together, preferring to make the chore into something fun and an opportunity to spend time together. However, for some reason this time I was alone, minding my own business in the veggie section when I noticed a well turned-out middle aged lady beaming at me from across the bananas. I smiled back tentatively, not sure if she was actually smiling at me and even did the classic head turn to see if the smile was meant for someone behind me.

"When's it due?" she enquired excitedly. I realized then that she was of course talking to me, and I duly replied that I had ages to go yet, but the concept was still a wee bit scary.

"Is it your first?" she asked, then not waiting for a reply went on, "Ah don't worry, you'll be fine! We are all fine when it happens. Just make sure you stay at home as long as possible!" I thanked her for her advice and went about my business checking my Granny Smiths for blemishes. Truth be told, it was a lovely exchange and made me smile to myself for the rest of the day. I couldn't wait to tell P what had happened later.

On the flipside, I have also been on the receiving end of some disapproving looks, tuts and even been completely and judiciously ignored. In a restaurant at the weekend I decided that I would have a small glass of white wine. Not that it's anyone's business, but now I can stomach it again, I do allow myself one precious glass of booze per week, especially if I am eating a treat or it's a special occasion. A woman (and it's always a woman, have you noticed?) on the next table gave me a disapproving glare when she saw the waiter pour into my proffered glass but quickly averted her gaze when I stared back at her defiantly. Ah, how I love the British sense of restraint – if we had been in Australia I am sure I would have "copped and earful" from her and would have had an argument on my hands (Aussies tend towards being less afraid of expressing their opinion in public places when they think something is wrong). Don't even get me started on the collective sharp intakes of breaths from those present I get when my hand hovers longingly over the sashimi plate!

And on a hideously crowded hot and sweaty train the other day pole hanging like a pregnant ape over a group of four happily seated "businessmen", I may as well have been invisible. I could have sang and danced a show tune for all the heed they paid me. It's not that I expect to be offered a seat (heaven knows the ironic truth that it was when I wasn't showing that I felt the worst and was in more desperate need of a seat), it's more the lack of manners, gentlemanly or not, that irks me.

Anyhow, it really is remarkable how people's responses to you change when it becomes obvious you are with child. I guess it goes hand in hand with having to make your own emotional and mental adjustments to who you are now and how you define yourself in the world.

How did people react to you when you started to show? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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