There’s something about a baby bump that compels complete strangers to get extremely close and personal.
I can understand that for a lot of pregnant women (particularly those who are quite introverted) this can be a daunting experience. I, on the other hand, absolutely loved strangers approaching me, touching my belly and gushing with excitement.
While I was away for work in a small town, a woman excitedly set upon my very pregnant belly and blessed my unborn child with the sign of a cross and murmured a prayer. While I am in no way religious, I was touched by the gesture. I loved that the impending life growing inside me could bring out such hope and kindness in absolute strangers.
One thing I could have done without was any pregnancy anecdote that started with, “Oh you’re pregnant? Let me tell you about my horror story …”.
I found it rather strange that people would want to tell me about how their experience or that of someone they know, went horribly wrong. Why on earth would I want to know that?
“I was in labour for six days”
“The baby was so big, her pelvis shattered”.
“My wife had a grade-four tear”
Before my antenatal classes, I didn’t even know what a tear was, let alone the grading of said tears.
While on a trip away with my husband in Melbourne, we were in a lift on our way back to our room in the hotel. A man came in the lift and looked at my huge belly. He asked, “Is it your first?” We both burst into huge smiles and replied “yes”. The bell sounded and the doors of the lift opened. Just as the man was about to leave, he looked at us with a smile and said, “Your life will never be the same again”. And with that, he walked out of the lift and the doors closed, leaving my husband and I with that statement lingering in the air.
Of all the things that strangers had said to us, that stays with me to this day. What I love about the simplicity of what the stranger said was that there was no inference as to whether your life changes for better or for worse. And therein lies the beauty of it.
Because for better or worse, he was spot on. Our lives will never be the same again. The arrival of a tiny human being into your life not only signifies the beginning of a whole new adventure, but also brings an end to a life you once knew.
There is a shift in the way you see the world. Your very existence in the world is somehow different as you accept the new role of being a parent.
Having said that, there was something else that was said to me that I found rather strange. A friend came to visit not long after my daughter was born. As she came to leave, she was rather shocked and said to me “You haven’t changed a bit”.
I think there is a very clear distinction between your life changing and changing as a person. My life certainly changed. I became incredibly conscious of the things I said and did and what I wanted my little sponge to absorb. But the one thing I found to be the common denominator of the wonderful parents I knew was that they were genuinely themselves. They didn’t try to be someone else, someone they thought they should be.
Having a baby and being a parent has made me strive to be the best version of me that I can be. But ultimately, it’s still me. I figure if I can give my little girl enough love and affection, she will be strong enough to be herself too.
Now when I see someone with a baby bump, I will tell her, “Your life will never be the same again”.
Image credit: szefei/123RF Stock Photo
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