I mean, the first few months of pregnancy, sure, you're sick as a dog and feel as if Mount Vesuvius will erupt if you get the tiniest whiff of a cooking pork product, but at least it's a private agony. Then suddenly, month five or six hits and your belly pops out and you become a one-woman petting zoo. One of my little piano students rubs my belly enthusiastically every time she comes for her lesson, announcing matter-of-factly, "Yep! It's getting bigger!" And quite honestly, eight-year-old piano students are entirely preferable to the random strangers in the supermarket who get this irresistible urge to touch my stomach and comment on its size (something nobody would dare do if, instead of being pregnant, I had just overdone it on the twinkies and doughnuts).
And sometimes the comments are worse when they're trying to be nice. Like the sympathetic friends who try to make you feel better by asking, "Oh, are you pregnant? You're so tiny, you hardly even show!" when you know for a fact that this morning you split the seam on your hugest pair of maternity pants and you've started wondering if they make maternity clothes in size "Hippo".
Then toward month seven or eight you know it's getting bad because instead of asking "How are you doing?" people start asking in this sad, concerned voice "How are you feeling?" and what they really mean is, "Holy smokes -- you've bloated up like a whale. You must feel awful!"
So between all the comments and belly-rubbing and weekly doctor visits, by the time you're ready to deliver, you've completely lost all inhibitions regarding your pregnant body. When Will was born, I had been poked, prodded, and checked by so many random doctors, nurses, groups of interns in training (and I'm sure there was a janitor or two) over the course of twelve hours of labor, I felt like getting on the hospital P.A. system and announcing "ATTENTION HOSPITAL VISITORS, IF ANYONE ELSE IS INTERESTED IN CHECKING TO SEE HOW FAR THE PATIENT IN ROOM 475 HAS DILATED, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DO SO AT THIS TIME."
To tell the truth, though, most of the time it's not so bad. It's kind of sweet the way, when you walk into the room, people look at your belly before they look at your face and it makes them smile (Or laugh out loud. Or dive out of the way like a steamroller's coming through). It's nice to know that just a glance at my stomach can brighten someone's day. Hey, I try to do my part to make the world a better place. And if all it takes is looking like I've swallowed a giant beach ball, so be it.