There's something about being pregnant that suddenly makes you public property. Things that people would never dare do or say in any other circumstance seem to become permissable over night - it's very odd.
I have never in all my life been touched by so many people. Veritable strangers feel the need to stroke my stomach or pat my bump - which quite frankly is just odd. The polite ones ask if it's ok - which I suppose is better than just running over and giving me a good rub as if I was some kind of Buddha, but actually it puts me in a really awkward situation. If I say no, (which to be perfectly honest is my preferred response), that person will then feel embarrassed, so invariably I'm forced to say yes and endure the ensuing invasion of my and baby J's personal space. This happened on a shoot last week when a model I'd met only once before asked to feel my bump. The baby wasn't kicking at the time so it seemed really odd to me. I said yes because I didn't want her to feel bad - but really what was the point? If I suddenly asked her if I could rub her tummy she'd probably think I was a complete freak.
It doesn't stop with the touching either - suddenly your health, appetite and general behaviour is put on trial. I've lost count of the number of times people have commented on what I'm eating. I've been told off for not eating enough, then tutted at for eating a biscuit and warned that I'd give my baby a sweet tooth. I've had people comment on the fact that I'm eating at all "I thought you couldn't keep anything down - are you going to be seeing that again soon." Hmmmmm "I don't know - but actually I'd rather not think about being sick when I'm trying to eat - ta v much."
Then people seem to delight in telling you just how rough you look. The other day I was having what for me was a very good day. I didn't feel sick or tired, I felt somewhere nearing normal - hurrah. However according to the woman in question "I looked like I was going to be ill." When I protested and said I felt fine - she said: "No I think you're feeling sick, go and sit down."
Apparently this doesn't stop when you have the baby either - instead of invading your space they invade your baby's. Asking to pick it up for a cuddle, waving things in its little face and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I never ask to hold a baby - I wait until its mother offers me a cuddle - I want to know she's comfortable with me being in charge of her baby and I don't want her to feel that she has to hand over her child. I think I might just get a bit more stroppy with stangers and my baby - I certainly won't be handing it out willy nilly for cuddles to anyone who asks.
The moral of this rant? Do spare a thought for any pregnant women you know - if you wouldn't be happy having them rub your stomach don't ask to rub theirs, or get them to show you their belly button or demonstate whether or not they have stretch marks. It's just a bit weird! (Close friends and family feel free to rub away - but don't be surprised if I give your tummy a squeeze back).