It wasn't the labor, the pain, or even the pounds that scared me the most about being pregnant. (Or even the fact that I had to give up my most beloved beverage...I mean, who can function without their steaming cup of yummy caffeine? Horror of horrors!)
Every single how-to-be-pregnant book (and I had two!) warned of that one crazy phenomena. You know the one. Where complete and absolute strangers walk up to you and....TOUCH YOUR BELLY!!
I had been dreading this from the day I saw that little plus sign. No matter how well intentioned a complete stranger may be, its creepy. Beyond the fact that they are a COMPLETE STRANGER is the one little thing. Literally. My baby. I wasn't sure I wanted someone I didn't know getting between the bond I was sure was forming. This was my time. And unless I wanted you in on it, please, I thought, don't let anyone just walk right on up and lay one on me.
I needn't had worried.
Because there was something far worse looming on the horizon.
Complete and total strangers, once they learned of the little jellybean and his impending arrival, asked me (did I mention they were complete strangers?) if I planned on breastfeeding.
The craziest part of that was I didn't know. At first, I was vehemently anit-breastfeeding. I didn't want to smother my baby, or be attached to him twenty four hours a day. Plus, I didn't really view that part of me as what they were designed for. I mean, they look great in a bra and have given me some really interesting shopping trips. Among other things.
The first time I had this particular question thrown at my newly announced pregnant self, I was dumb founded. When I stammered the whole I hadn't decided yet, I received the weirdest lecture ever as a grown person. (To add to the awkwardness, it happened at work. And I work at a well known lingerie store. Being used to awkward situations, and believe me there have been plenty, I was thrown.) Politely, I stood there, just staring at this woman who probably meant well but was seriously freaking me out! after she was done I politely smiled and helped her, then passed her along to pay for her purchases.
And hoped this was the last time I would have to endure this uncomfortable conversation.
Boy, was I wrong wrong.
The dreaded event would occur at least three times a week through out my pregnancy, mostly while I was work. By the this time I learned once again to plaster that pleasant smile on my face and say I hadn't decided yet and excuse myself. (Hey, I was pregarooni, I could fake morning sickness. Which I had none. Or scamper off to help another customer.)
Breastfeeding is an incredibly personal decision. One that I wasn't ready to share with just anyone, so I just couldn't understand where these complete strangers were coming from.
I had already decided to take a breastfeeding class to gather as much info as I could before the baby came. One thing I had decided early in my pregnancy was that I was going to do my best to roll with things and not define anything. That way, if something didn't go as planned, no problem.
Needless to say, the benefits outweighed my earlier assumptions.
But that still doesn't make those encounters any easier. At least now, I can look back and laugh. Maybe I should have asked them to touch my belly instead...