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  • Publicado : 13 de febrero de 2012
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Open Season on Pregnant Women
Being pregnant for the first time has made me aware of a
phenomenon that I am convinced only a pregnant woman can truly
understand. I call it “the open-season-on-pregnant-women syndrome,”
for lack of a better name. Early in my pregnancy, my older sister warned
me that having a baby is not the private affair I had always assumed it
would be. Despite millions ofyears of babies, the idea of a new life is
still fascinating enough to make even strangers want to share in the
excitement and responsibility. To put it simply, the pregnant woman, and
her fetus, are public domain.
The most obvious manifestation of the syndrome is really old
fashioned nosiness, but to be polite I will call it curiosity. It can start
before the expectant mother even knows sheis expectant. No matter how
many groceries you buy along with your at-home pregnancy test kit,
someone (in my case, the cashier) is bound to remark about it, which
starts a barrage of questions from other women in the check-out line.
One woman even asked me if I wanted a boy or a girl. I found myself
feeling like an impostor—apologetically explaining that I probably was
not pregnant at all,but that subterfuge only made the questions more
personal, as several fellow shoppers attempted a diagnosis. One even
asked, “When was your last period?”
In time, as my pregnancy became more apparent, the attention I
received from strangers increased and took on the form of well intended
advice. At five months, when I was sure I still was not “showing,” I went
to a health club with myhusband. I had missed my daily walk and
thought I’d make up for it on the Stairmaster machine. I hadn’t been on
the machine long, however, when I noticed a woman across the room
staring at me disapprovingly. After a couple of minutes, she hollered out
her accusation, “Are you pregnant?” directing everyone’s attention my
way. I considered responding with an indignant “No,” but instead I
mumbled myconfession, whereupon this heifer of a woman proceeded to
scold me from across the room about my heart rate. I was shamed into
leaving the club, her voice trailing after me: “I was just trying to help.”
Still, I’m not sure my situation was as embarrassing as that of
another woman. A good friend of mine used to give me a weekly report
on a pregnant stranger he occasionally observed sunningherself at the
pool in his apartment complex. Although she appeared to be nine months
pregnant (or “ready to pop,” as he so delicately put it), she wore a bikini,
proudly displaying her ripeness. Several times my friend expressed
concern to me that this woman’s baby might “get hot in there,” being
thus exposed. Although I assured him that the child was in no danger—
that the vitamin D was, infact, probably good for the fetus—his concern
finally overwhelmed him, and one day he walked over and covered the
poor woman’s protruding abdomen with a moist towel.
Just about everyone feels a sense of responsibility for, as well as
a small claim on, a new baby. Understandably, family members feel most
strongly about their rights and duties concerning the unborn relative.
same sister whowarned me about strange old men who would pat my
tummy in grocery stores felt herself obligated to inform me of every
possible complication of pregnancy and childbirth. She even sent me an
article (postage due) reporting a recent drastic increase in the number of
Cesarean deliveries. She also questioned me regularly about my diet and
weight gain, informed me that I was not “big enough,” andasked me if I
wanted to have a “runty baby.” Grandma, too, likes to point out my slow
weight gain and has even suggested in her nervous, half-joking way that
I’m trying to “put one over on everyone,” suggesting that my idea of a
good joke would be to feign pregnancy for nine months. Once, at a
restaurant after encouraging me to eat almost everything on the menu,
she pointed out the window at...
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