A few weekends ago, my mom hosted a baby shower for me in Eugene, my hometown. Before I drove down with my mother-in-law, who was visiting from Michigan, she checked out my outfit. Thankfully, it passed the bump test by showing and not covering my then-22-week belly. “Now people will know it’s not a hoax!” she said.
The size of my bump, and how obviously pregnant I am, has turned out to be a topic that’s up for debate since the day I retired my pre-preg jeans.
At one of my recent midwife visits, for example, the midwife said I finally looked pregnant and not just like a skinny girl who ate a giant burrito. (Is that what I looked like before?) Friends scoffed when I pointed out my budding bump. And when my mom saw my first profile shot, from around 19 weeks, she skeptically asked, “Wait, are you sticking out your stomach?”
I was indignant. Of course I was showing! Monumental changes were occurring within me, and surely everyone else could see the outside evidence. Right?
Even stranger, I found myself feeling defensive. When I went in for a massage (a Valentine’s Day present from my husband!), the therapist remarked on how little I was showing. When I lay down on the table, I hoped my belly stuck out under the sheet to demonstrate how wrong the therapist had been.
Why all the need to “prove” my pregnancy? Am I alone in this compulsion? Or do the abundance of bump shots on pregnancy web sites and Facebook hint at a deeper wish to cement our status as pregnant women?
As it turns out, I probably don’t need to worry anymore when I ask the waitress if the Brie is pasteurized and if the Caesar dressing contains raw eggs. (“Does she think I’m a neurotic foodie or can she tell I’m carrying?”) Yesterday, for the first time, a stranger asked me when I was due. I was standing in line at Safeway, waiting to order a sandwich, when the woman behind me singled me out as a mom-to-be. I wasn’t even wearing an empire waist dress or another belly-accentuating outfit.
The conversation was brief. I went back to customizing my sammie, but I felt as if I had crossed some threshold. I am, for all the world to see, going to bring another life into this world. And my bump will precede the rest of me, announcing that I’m going to be a mom.