There is officially a full on baby belly up in here. I have moved beyond just looking chubby. In fact, being that this is round three of the pregnancy path for me I'm of the feeling that I look more like seven months along than five. At this point I no longer receive stare #1, but felt it necessary to include. Please allow me to take a moment to dissect the way others are viewing me these days...
stare #1 - "Is she or isn't she?"
As I mentioned, a mere month ago it was hard for others to tell for absolute sure if I was indeed with child. This was the longest lingering stare because the person truly couldn't decide if they should congratulate me or walk away entirely for fear they may have offended me. I didn't mind because God knows it's better to just stare than it is to assume a person is pregnant and say something when they are not.
stare #2 - "Wise looks and words"
This stare involves more than just lingering eyes because it typically comes with some all knowing phrase after the up and down intake of my appearance. If I'm being honest, those who impart stare #2 are, in my experience, older. I'm a terrible judge of age, but if I had to guess I would go with the vast age group covering those who are grandparents. While waiting at the Mall of Georgia for a store called "Maternity Time" to open (late no less) an older gentleman passed by, did the stare, and with a chuckle said, "get ready to be waiting all the time now honey". This was interesting to me. At first I was sort of flattered. He assumed this is my first which I interpreted to mean he thought I looked young. That day I was feeling every bit of the 34 year old stay at home mom that I am. Battered and tired looking would've summed me up. What better way to take what he said as anything other than a compliment? On the other hand, I wanted to respond by saying that if the waiting bothered me I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have taken the plunge into the land of more children than adults in my family.
stare #3 - "That could be me" - Part one
My life involves a lot of women. Some of them I know and some of them are just passers by. Carpool lines, schools, and my activities of choice about town create sort of an abundance of women somewhere near my age everywhere I go. This particular stare typically comes from women who already have a child or two. Depending on how ambitious they are maybe they already have a gaggle of children. Regardless, they stare at me like my head is a big, fat question mark. They may even picture their head on my body. They're thinking, "could I?". Their minds begin to race with questions that I feel confident I could predict simply based on the look on their faces. My baby isn't really a baby anymore...could I have another? Do I want to be pregnant again? Do I want my life to be even more chaotic, crazy, messy, and AMAZING? Could I handle that? Man I miss that belly. Is it the belly I want or everything that comes with it? And so on. They walk away feeling stunned and confused while I'm left standing there looking like a billboard that says, "YES.Yes you can!".
stare #4 - "That could be me" - Part two
In the same vein of part one, there is a definite group of women with the stare that screams, "NO. No I could not". This stare is by far the shortest. In fact, it's not fair to call it a stare. It's a glance. They see me and their eyes dart so fast it's as if they're thinking maybe if they look away quickly the universe won't know they saw me. If they look away fast enough maybe they can convince themselves they didn't see me at all. They aren't ready. Maybe they are really sure they're done. They are sometimes covered in infant barf while trying to calm a screaming two year old. They haven't slept in YEARS. They want no part of what I'm showcasing and I GET THAT. I've been them. Clearly, I fell victim to stare #3 and and said yes instead of no.
stare #5 - "That could be me" - Part three
This is undoubtably a hard one to write about. People don't talk about it. They don't acknowledge it because it's hard and heartbreaking. This stare comes from a mama who has the baby in her heart, her mind, and her every breath. She dreams of it, prays for it, and falls asleep crying about it. If I have received this stare in any of my pregnancies I didn't know it, but I know it happens. These women don't want to feel the looks of pity or let on that they feel pain at the sight of someone experiencing something so perfect. They just want to walk on by and do everything in their power to erase the image of yet another pregnant woman from their mind. For those of you out there that feel this pain please know that, for what it's worth, I think about you daily and pray right along with you.
stare #6 - "Look at her!"
Some people, like myself, are in awe of pregnancy. They stare because they simply cannot help themselves. They stare because they see something so profoundly awesome they can't look away...nor do they want to. They break out in an ear to ear grin when they see me coming and it makes my day. They bask in the glow like it's a big dose of sunshine. This stare doesn't happen as often as it should, but when it does I've come close to giving a stranger a hug.
stare #7 - "Bless her heart"
This stare always involves my children in tow where the other stares often do not. People giggle a little when they see a pregnant lady with one small child at her feet. They think, good for her! But when they see a pregnant lady with two (or more) small children the stare changes it's tune. Especially if one of the two children is out of sorts. The look holds a strong sense of pity and maybe even a desire to help. It says, "oh dear, you have your hands full and they are about be overflowing". To them I say, well duh. Isn't that sort of the point? My cup overfloweth people. Stare all you want because this baby belly may or may not be the last one for me.
Coming soon - a post about THE BABYMOON which will include what it's like to be five months pregnant in Hawaii and the stares that accompany such a situation.