Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please, grab me!

As you might recall, Batman, a radiology technician recently referred to you as a "snuggler." This was actually a kind of comforting thing to hear, as one of my "wake me up in the middle of the night to panic about it even though there's not only nothing I can do about it but really no cause for panic in the first place" moments over the last few months has been worrying about whether you'll be the kind of kid who likes physical contact, or if you'll start to refuse touching sometime around age three. I know that's not especially likely, but this is not an especially rational fear.

While I have a difficult time accepting physical contact from people I'm not super close to (woe betide that "uncle" who tries to put his arm around my shoulder affectionately while telling an rambling story about "back in the day" in which I play some humorous role), and an even harder time dealing with touching from people I don't really know at all (seriously, lady at the makeup counter at Macy's, do you really need to keep "warmly" touching my arm to "build my confidence"?), I do truly relish hugs, snuggles, hand-holding, leaning, and other forms of contact from most people I love and trust. There are exceptions on all counts, of course, but those are primarily based on dubious personal hygiene and grooming, or emotional baggage.

That is all under normal circumstances, of course. Since you came onto the scene, I've been pretty massively uncomfortable for a lot of the time, so snuggle-times have not really been my cup of tea. It's actually been bumming me out, since I love snuggling so much, but I know I'll make up for it once you're on the outside. In the meantime, I'm trying to find small moments when touching is a good thing and not something that just makes me feel like vomiting (again). Holding hands with your father basically every chance I get is great, and hugs hello and goodbye are excellent little single-serving bursts of contact, but I know that as soon as I really start to show (beyond my current "is just pregnant, or just kind of pudgy?" shape) there will be another whole can of worms to deal with.

Here's a shocker: basically every woman I've ever known has been truly repulsed by having people touch her belly unbidden. In fact, the internet overflows with irate future moms who just want everyone to keep their hands to themselves. I know there are exceptions to this rule, and maybe I'll even be one of them once I start to feel better, but for now...who the hell would just walk up to someone and touch a part of their body that is clearly sensitive and private? Does anyone wander up to a dude with obvious moobs, give them a squeeze, and say "my, these are coming along nicely! What do you weigh now?" Is is considered polite or normal ANYWHERE to rub the head of a cancer patient undergoing chemo and say "boy, that's smooth! How far along is it?" How about giving a nice tweak to someone's scar after obvious surgery and noting "what nice stitch work you got! That's nicer than mine was..." before launching into a personal medical horror story?

Yesterday, however, was the first instance of someone just going for the belly. I feel like I'm in a slightly safer zone as a teacher because (for a variety of reasons, not least of which being that I know they are developmentally less capable of some social decision making, whatever the experts might say) I'm inclined to let children get away with a hell of a lot more than adults. A seven-year-old in my summer pottery class slapped a clay-encrusted hand on my belly after loudly screaming "I WANNA FEEL THE BABY KICK!" Finding this charming rather than imposing, I calmly stepped back and informed her that it was too soon to feel anything yet, and she happily went back to her project.

This didn't bother me: not a bit. I know, however, that the first time any adult beyond my immediate circle of family and friends - or who hasn't asked before just getting in there - goes for the navel, I will lose my bananas. I might not even be especially good with some family getting in there until a) there is a guarantee of movement, and not the chance of someone sitting there with a hand pressed to my abdomen for who knows how long waiting to feel something, and b) I'm physically big enough that I can reassure myself that they're feeling you, Batman, not just rumblings while I digest my third jar of pickles. I really hope everyone waits for permission before touching, since I'm pretty sure that homicide is still not justified if the shopkeeper was just trying to relive the glory of her daughter-in-law's last pregnancy.

On the other hand, there is a very good chance that I will be positively thrilled to let anyone who wants to get their hands all up upons as soon as I start to feel better. My midwives are practically ready to start a frequent visitor program for me with all the super fun business I've had going on in the last nine weeks (holy crap, that's a crazy long time), so once my punchcard is full, maybe I'll be happy to let that dude at the Sears auto center give you a rub.

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