Recently a friend and colleague of mine announced that she was expecting twins, her first pregnancy. Isn't weird when you wake up one day to find that when people tell you they're pregnant you automatically think, "Congratulations!" instead of, "What are you going to do?" No? Just me? OK...
My friend, charming, intelligent, and talented woman that she is, did admit that she was scared, and that's a normal feeling. Childbirth isn't without its dangers, she's about to go through many physical ch-ch-ch-changes, and then you have that whole caring-for-a-tiny-human thing to deal with for the rest of your life.
I could spend the next 700 words telling her how everything will be all right, miracle, love, family, and you get to play with Play-Doh again without folks looking at you like some of your genes misfired. I could, but I won't. Instead I think I'll warn her because you being pregnant cause ch-ch-ch-changes (It's stuck in my head, OK?) in otherwise normal people all around you. There are ten specifically you need to be on the lookout for.
The Palmer: Something about a big belly full of baby seems to throw all sense of personal boundaries about touching strangers out the freakin' window. Old ladies and guys with comb-overs seem to be particularly likely to just reach out and palm your expanded universe like it's a hand-pad that will unlock the oxygen on Mars with only the most cursory of introductions.
You how goddamn creepy that would be to do to a person who wasn't pregnant? Like if I just waltzed up to a soccer mom in the grocery store and touched her stomach? That's just asking for a Mace breath mint. The second you start to show, though, get ready for to be humanity's personal squishy touch thing.
The Downer: Sometimes you being pregnant brings up tragedies for other people regarding their own experiences. While you don't really want to hear about a possible awful fate when you're already scared, try to be sympathetic.
However, there's another class of people that really didn't want to have children when they did and only did so because they thought it was the right thing. They'll gleefully tell you how they never lost the weight, never slept right again, or how their sex or love lives were forever ruined. Basically, they're trying to piss in your corn flakes because if they should taste a bit of piss with every spoonful then by God so should you.
The Lactivist: Let me be very clear... I am extremely pro-breastfeeding. My wife did it for a year. I fully support any law that comes along requiring employers to respect the right for a woman to feed or pump breast milk and to provide a clean safe place to do so. Breastfeeding is truly the best thing you can do to feed your child.
Some people, though, turn it into a religion, and they're worse than Jehovah's Witnesses when they descend on you. They never ask if you're planning on breastfeeding, they just start shouting statistics and warning dire consequences should you not comply. Some of them even balk at bottle-feeding with pumped milk, and on the scale of annoying adherents they're usually just slightly behind hardcore pot legalization enthusiasts.
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The Anti-Circumcisionists: Along the same lines are people who are vehemently opposed to circumcision, and as with belly touching I find it's really odd that strangers feel comfortable grilling you about your unborn son's dick. Try doing that when you meet your daughter's prom date and see if you don't end up on a bad, bad list.
I take no stand on whether you should circumcise a child or not. Millions around the world seem to get by fine without it and millions around the world seem to have enjoyable sex with it. That means there's enough wiggle room that maybe it's not all that necessary to accost people in the grocery store and call them barbarians while they're buying Fig Newtons.
The Natural Advocates: I'm not sure when as a species we turned giving birth into a competitive sport, but it sucks balls that we did so. More and more people have come to fetishize this idea of squatting amindst the flowers and trees and squeezing out your new life free of all chemicals and away from those liars in lab coats.
To them, a completely painkiller-free home birth is the only "real" way to do it and any other path is completely cheating. By their logic, stitches and air conditioning are cheating at life as well, though I'm willing to bet at the heart of it they're looking for validation for making something way harder than it's meant to be in a modern society.
The Anti-C-Sectionists: If you ever feel the need to comment on someone's C-section with anything other than the exact same questions you would ask a person who had any other type of abdominal surgery... don't. The goal is a healthy baby born to a healthy mother, not a round of "Whose Vagina Is The Toughest?"
The Secret Namer: Odds are you'll take some parenting classes, which are really helpful, Most of these obviously include other parents, and you do the whole "Go around the room and tell us a little about yourself" bit at first. This usually involves saying what you're having and your name if you've picked one.
"Our name is Top Secret," is probably the stupidest thing I have ever heard someone say. Really? What they hell do you think is going to happen? Is someone going to hear your extra-special variation on Mackenzie and drop their intended moniker to steal it, thereby reducing your child's specialness by a factor of several Braxtons? No one cares. Just tell us the name so we can get on with learning to swaddle because making baby burritos is really hard and really important.
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The MRA Paternity Dick: I don't know if women get this particular unpleasantness much, though judging by how much Men's Rights Activists like annoying strange women it's probably not unknown. In my case it was a constant stream of these professional point-missers lamenting that it sure was too bad the world was so sexist so as to not guarantee paternity leave.
Apparently these guys think that employers just up and offered maternity leave as a standard thing in many jobs out of the goodness of their hearts. No you craven creeps, they fought for that. You want to fight for it to be more standard for men too? Hell yeah, sign me up. If you just want to use it as an excuse to call women bitches find another ear canal to spooge in. My hearing is bad enough as it is.
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The Enabler: If you're doing the whole thing right then you as a pregnant woman have probably given up at least a few vices like smoking or drinking or that professional cage fighting career that was starting to take off in order to not turn your child into some sort of gill-mutant. These things are hard enough to stick to without that one friend who insists she drank wine throughout her pregnancy and everything turned out fine whenever you turn down a glass in her presence. There's a special place in hell for these people... all the food and drinks are only available in vending machines that keep spitting back your money.
The Pro-Life Acolyte: Nothing is more annoying than someone who thinks that the only thing keeping you from moving off Pro-Choice Boulevard to the upper-East side and Pro-Life Towers is the fact that you've never been pregnant before. Once you feel that life inside you, kicking all your meals back out through your throat, you will finally come to understand. Plus, hey, this is a perfect time to tell you about Jesus.
Look, I love my kid with all my heart, and holding her newborn form was an experience I will never forget. I'm still pro-choice, but babies are not magic conversion pills. Could we all please acknowledge that maybe we all came by our particular beliefs in this area through hard thought and genuine reflection? Probably not, because the thing you find out real quick you're having a baby is that people lose all damned respect for the right to not listen to strangers annoy you.