I’m pregnant and I love talking about it to my friends and family. They hear all about my cravings (Crunchy Nut cornflakes) and symptoms (luscious hair, but too much saliva). They probably wish I’d shut up about it.
But when it comes to acquaintances or strangers asking me about my pregnancy, I clam up and turn as icy as a box of Frosty Fruits. I can’t stand it.
When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2013 I used to feel bad about this and I’d answer the questions through a fake smile. ‘They’re just being nice. It’s sweet that they care,’ I’d tell myself. I’m not a newbie any more and I can now say, without apology, that I don’t want to talk about my pregnancy with people I don’t know.
Being pregnant is an intensely personal experience, and although many of the questions seem harmless and innocent they often head towards territory that makes me uncomfortable.
That one question – whether it’s “Are you pregnant?” or “Is it a boy or girl?” – inevitably leads to bigger, more complex questions that I haven’t even figured out for myself. Questions like, “How will you work?” and “When are you buying a house?” and “How will you cope with two children?”
I don’t know, I don’t know and I don’t know. Excuse me while I go and curl up in a stressed-out ball now.
Watch: Five things you need to know about pregnancy – that no one ever tells you. (Post continues after video.)
I often wonder why acquaintances need to know this information. Their thirst leads me to conclude they’re nosy and just love gossip – particularly because I know that my pregnancy won’t affect or change their lives in any way. A recent interaction with a neighbour proved this point.
My husband and I were taking our daughter for a walk when our neighbour spotted us and settled in for a long chat. We’re not friends, and our relationship so far has consisted of us waving and smiling at each other from inside our cars. Our lack of an intimate relationship is why I found her questions to be so unsettling. At the time, I was around four months pregnant and barely had a bump.
Neighbour: “Are you in the family way?”
Neighbour: “Well, I thought you were getting a bump around your middle!”
Me: “Ha, ha.” (laughs uncomfortably, and tries to walk away)
Neighbour: (loudly, so that I can still hear her) “That’s good, because I just thought you were eating too much and getting fat!”
Those softly-phrased euphemisms just sound like one question to me: “Carla, why are you getting so fat?”