Everyone has their line on how much they show on social media. What’s yours?
Mum: “Julie wants me to send her a photo of your belly.”
That was how the most recent request for pictures of my baby bump went down. It certainly wasn’t the first demand I’ve received (nor the first passed on through my parents).
And, honestly, I just don’t get why everyone wants to see it. It feels like a slightly more grown-up version of, “Show us ya tits!”. Frankly, I’m not planning on posting a photo of either.
It’s not unheard of these days for pregnant women to take photos of their growing bellies every week, recording the mini milestones for posterity (and usually with an overly decorated chalkboard announcing the week and which fruit is the equivalent size of the foetus). And the pregnancy app I’ve downloaded reminds me take a photo each week.
But why should we feel compelled to record and share our growing bump? Every pregnant woman has one.
Distributing the pictures via social media, text or email is just inviting comparison about its size. It’s inevitable. Even bearing a baby bump incites unsolicited conversations with strangers and unwanted comments from everyone.
Nadia Bartel wrote a whole blog post this week about the rude comments she received from strangers saying her bump wasn’t big enough and how disconcerting she found the experience, despite reassurances from her obstetrician that she was perfectly healthy.
This being my first pregnancy, I’m already constantly comparing my bump to that of my pregnant friends, or celebrities, or random women on Google Images, worrying about whether it is abnormally large. The last thing I need is other people’s two cents about how ‘big’ or ‘small’ I am. Like many women, I’m not overly comfortable with my body on a good day, let alone when all my organs are squashed up and my skin stretched to its limit to make way for the little being growing inside me.
Which is why I won’t be posting any pictures of my belly.
I’ll happily send friends and family ultrasound photos if requested, so they can see what the growing baby looks like (despite the fact I could pull one from Google Images and they’d never know the difference). But sending a picture of my stomach just seems pointless. Like sending a picture of my upper thigh or little finger (both of which have also expanded in recent months).
In fact, I wish I had the same option of not displaying it in real life.
I spent the first couple of months self-consciously hiding the developing bump with loose, black tops and waterfall cardigans. Apparently very well too, as this week, as the temperatures have risen and my layers of clothing have reduced, I’ve received many reactions along the lines of, “Wow, you ARE pregnant.” (Did they think I was making it up?) Yesterday, I was even volunteered for the job of dressing up as Santa Claus for our work Christmas party. (Ho, ho, waaaah.)
Another recent joyful discovery is that people’s eyes will linger on your protruding stomach while you are talking to them, much like the way boys used to talk to your boobs at teenage house parties.
Five months into my pregnancy, I can no longer hide it. I’m proud of growing a human inside me, but mainly I feel self-conscious, exposed and vulnerable.
From the moment some people learnt I was pregnant, it clearly became the most interesting thing about me. I was referred to by a relative as “my little incubator” and am regularly called “Mum” by well-intentioned folk. But it makes me want to scream, “I’m still me!”. I’m still a person with interests and wants and my own personality that is separate to my impending role as a parent. And, as excited as I am about meeting our newest addition, I want to enjoy last few months of me-time before my life revolves around another person’s bowel movements and sleeping schedule. Having attention permanently drawn to my more fragile physical state makes this more difficult.
Plus the phenomenon of social media, where we feel entitled to demand pictures of other people’s baby bumps (or wedding photos, or holiday happy snaps) to share in their life events, just adds to the pressure to provide fodder for well-meaning busybodies.
Personally, I’d be happier if I could keep the whole bump under wraps for the entire nine months, so, family and friends, don’t expect to see it in your feed anytime soon.