I feel like I act creepy around pregnant women.
Specifically, pregnant women I do not know, although perhaps any pregnant friends of mine could inform me if I do in fact act creepy around them, too. It's just that ever since I myself have been pregnant, I have this total fascination with pregnant bellies and can't help but stare at moms-to-be.
Not that I have some sort of, ha ha, fetish, or anything. (Okay, NOW I sound creepy.) It's more like this weird feeling of identifying, like if you saw someone working the exact same job position you once held. I find myself assessing what they look like—do they have that annoying belly-dent I had, or do they have one of those perfect basketball tummies that somehow never shows the hideous line of the full-panel maternity waistline?—and I wonder how they're feeling.
I almost want to rush up and ask: Are you tired? Farty? Suddenly violently sensitive to the thought of raw chicken? Scared about what's going to happen once the baby arrives? You're farty, aren't you? Holy shit, the FARTING, amirite?
Pregnant women make me feel nostalgic and starry-eyed and mildly freaked out all over again by the utterly bizarre magic of making tiny humans inside your own body. I watch the way they move and think, Oh, I remember that. How you have to sort of hoist yourself out of a chair. The unconscious way your hand continually travels to your abdomen, cupping the life inside. The awkward way your gait changes in the final months as you start doing something that's less of a stroll and more of a bustling duck waddle. The efficient visual scan for nearby restrooms.
It's a goofy sense of kinship, one which is obviously one-sided and/or nonexistent, depending on how you look at it. I thought this phenomenon would fade the further I got from my own days of baby-carrying, but I find that it's still there. I have become one of those women who beams out shy, sappy smiles to my pregnant comrades, and it's only now that I fully understand those smiles I remember getting when I was the one in the maternity clothes. At the time I felt a little embarrassed by the unwanted attention, like I had suddenly morphed into some kind of exotic zoo creature, and you'd think I would be able to stop myself from inflicting this feeling on anyone else. But oh, I can't. I can only stop myself from actually walking up and saying everything I want to say.
Is this your first? Do your rings still fit? How's the heartburn? Is it a boy or a girl? Have you decided on a name? Have you ever wished you could take your belly off at the end of the day like a backpack? Does your bellybutton stick out or did it turn into a sort of gross shallow flesh-cave?
I don't know what it is, this desire to share war stories and see where experiences overlap and vary. Maybe it's that I've spent my life as a solitary person who has trouble connecting with people. Motherhood is the closest thing to a tribe I've known.
So that's why I'm looking at you, pregnant ladies. I'm sorry if I seem creepy, but I'm just excited that we have something in common. Luckily for us both, I'll restrain myself to surreptitious peeking and the occasional sappy smile.
Do you find that you're now oddly drawn to pregnant women too?