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Pat the Tummy

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It is enthralling, isn’t it?

I remember as a young woman shyly asking a cousin if I could touch her very pregnant belly. I was curious what it felt like. A waterbed? A balloon? A bowl full of jelly? A wildcat in a pillow case?

I was surprised her belly felt firm, never giving much thought to the strong muscles that cradle the womb. The best part was when she moved my hand to a spot where her son was kicking. Wow.

Despite being pregnant many times, I still find the belly amazing. It’s like a juicy gilded-peach disco ball—ripe, round, and eye-catching. That is why I am never surprised if someone reaches out to say hello to my bump.

Most pregnant women hate when strangers touch their bellies, charging it’s a violation of personal space and rude to intrude. They feel like a public spectacle, property of the prying masses. I nod when fellow moms express how frustrated they feel when accosted by outstretched hands.

I admit I’ve never fully understood these rants. The usual belly-touchers are older women or young children. I imagine they are either nostalgic or curious and have nothing but sweet intentions. When I am patted in line at the store or while waiting to be seated at a restaurant, I don’t recoil or feel violated. To me, it isn’t creepy when a person is cheered by the thought of a new baby and wants to say howdy to a little one via gentle touch.

What is the worst that can happen as the dinner theater waitress pat-pat-pats and asks when you are due? You might be expected to engage in warm conversation for 15 seconds? She’ll move on to forget your refill, you’ll wish you ordered the chicken, and harm? Not really done.

In the grand scope of pregnancy annoyances, frustrations, and even tragedies, the occasional belly pat isn’t ever something to get worked up over, in my opinion.

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  • comment avatar Momma, The Casual Perfectionist October 30, 2008

    Gretchen, I felt the same way about belly-rubs when I was pregnant with my daughter! It’s good to see I wasn’t alone! πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Momma, The Casual Perfectionist October 30, 2008

    (Sorry! I always forget my link!)

  • Pingback:Lifenut » My personal space invites your benign good-intentions invasion

  • comment avatar Amber October 30, 2008

    I’m not sure how I feel about people patting my tummy because no one has ever tried to do it. Maybe I have an invisible sign that says “Moody pregnant lady–do not touch.” πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Joanne October 30, 2008

    I didn’t mind much either, except for the men. For some odd reason I had creepy guys who seemed fascinated. Their hands either stayed too long resting on my bump or they wanted to glide around every inch of my belly. These guys tended to ruin it for me.

  • comment avatar Shayne October 30, 2008

    I am really, really protective of my personal space. I’m one of those that found it extremely intrusive to have my belly touched.

    For some reason (probably because I mostly work with men), it was usually men reaching out for a rub. Ick.

    The women didn’t want to touch it. They usually just had some extraordinarily rude comment to make about how huge I was (“You’re not due for 2 more months? It looks like you have twins in there! Have you talked to your doctor about how big you are?”). No wonder I was a grumpy pregnant lady!

    But I do like your perspective on this. In the grand scheme of all things pregnancy related, a belly pat is not a big deal.

  • comment avatar mombrud October 30, 2008

    I didn’t mind the belly pats so much until one stranger in the grocery store line started at the top and went all the down to the bottom of my belly. I was very far along in my first pregnancy and I can tell you I did not like a strange woman’s hand down there!

  • comment avatar Heth October 30, 2008

    I didn’t mind nice old ladies or nice young ladies. Like Shayne, it was the men. Random men were not welcome to touch my belly.

  • comment avatar Rachel October 30, 2008

    I don’t mind children, mothers, grandmothers, and curious young women having a feel. But a totally unknown adult male wanting to touch me? Ain’t gonna happen! And it’s really inappropriate for them to think that a pregnant belly gives them the right to touch another man’s wife

  • comment avatar Kira October 30, 2008

    I don’t mind most belly-pats, either. Although with this pregnancy, I did have one friend give my tummy a hearty feel – when I was twelve weeks along. Um. At that point it WAS a lot like a waterbed, due to natural padding and three previous children. Wait for some actual baby bump, please.

  • comment avatar edj ( October 30, 2008

    I’m with Rachel. I didn’t mind most people. But I found that I didn’t mind it once I was about 6 or 7 mos along (or 3 mos with the twins)–in other words, when I was really sticking out! Once someone wanted to pat my little bump when it was a really little bump still. That felt strange.

  • comment avatar Kim October 30, 2008

    Ew, NO on the belly pats. I don’t like my tummy touched by anyone, especially when I was pregnant. I barely allowed the hubby.
    I understand the good intentions of most people, but can’t imagine walking up to someone, stranger or friend and wanting to touch. I’ve had PG friends ask if I want to feel the baby and I’ve always declined. Just way too personal for me.

  • comment avatar Cyndi October 30, 2008

    I never really like it when people touch me at all, but no more so when I am pregnant. I have a hard time keeping my hands to myself, though. Normally, I don’t go around touching people, but around a large prego belly, I have to restrain myself. They are just so lovely! Can I touch yours? πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Kristin October 30, 2008

    I think it is the level of surprise that gets me. I don’t mind the rub, it’s just that it is all of a sudden happening. I like rubbing my belly too! Why wouldn’t everyone else?

  • comment avatar Jamie ( October 30, 2008

    I’m one of those “keep your hands to yourself, please-and-thank-you,” people. I’m not a touchy-feely type, particularly when it comes to strangers.

    That said, I always responded politely — no sharp reprimands, no keeping a brick in my purse then using the purse as a weapon with which to defend myself — because I knew that the pats were well meant. Egregious breaches of personal space, but well meant. πŸ˜‰

  • comment avatar Beth - total mom haircut October 30, 2008

    I never really came across this very much. I always prepared myself for it, not that I predicted I’d mind too much, but alas, not many pats for me. I agree with many commentors – there’s a difference between a woman or child versus a man.

  • comment avatar Melissa D October 30, 2008

    I would never pat a belly without permission.. and I only ask ladies that I know well. Not ever getting the chance to have a baby of my own, I liken myself to Jennifer Garner’s character in Juno when she feels the baby kick. It’s a total bring-you-to-tears-in-awe kinda moment.. and as close as some of us ever get to the real thing.

  • comment avatar Minnesotamom October 30, 2008

    I think for me it was that I have such a very personal space bubble. Like “Hey, that’s my very own tummy whether or not there’s a baby in it.” I can see both perspectives, though…

  • comment avatar Stephanie November 1, 2008

    *patting your belly*

    I always loved people rubbing my tummy! I wanted to wear a shirt that said, “It’s okay to pat the baby belly” because I know that people are so sensitive about it these days. It didn’t matter who would give me a little pat…I always got such joy out of it.

  • comment avatar Kayt November 4, 2008

    I’m eight months along, and I don’t mind people rubbing my belly as long as they ask first. I find it uncomfortable if random people just swoop on in and poke and rub away! I’ve never turned down anyone that’s asked me, I just find it weird and a bit creepy to touch without permission. My husband, my mother, and my sister are allowed to touch without asking, but that’s about it!

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