Hi, y’all, and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come watch me waddle on this stage like a drunk penguin discovering ice for the first time. You think it looks like a sideshow act now? Wait until you see me in the delivery room. You’re all invited!
You look scared. Don’t be. Are you wondering why I have gathered you here? You’re assembled so I can thank you publicly and all at once for your continued feedback on my pregnant body. It’s really refreshing to have the sort of honesty you’ve shown me. Few people would dare to say such unfiltered things in the face of someone who is crowned with the majestic glory of carrying human life. Other, less brave folk, might talk about how I’m glowing from the inside out. They may offer trite gestures like pints of Ben & Jerry’s or hour-long foot massages inside a Himalayan salt cave.
You’re assembled so I can thank you publicly and all at once for your continued feedback on my pregnant body.
But you? Oh, you’ve given me the best gift of all. That of your opinion.
First of all, the gentleman in the front row? Yes, the one wearing a shirt that says “I brake for steak.” The moment I locked eyes with you at the entrance of that crab shack, I knew you’d have something meaningful to offer to my life. And you did. You asked me, “Are you carrying twins in there or what?”
I felt the world pivot into earth-shattering clarity as I told you, “Fuck off.”
Maybe you haven’t seen an eight-months-pregnant woman curse so placidly while rubbing her rotund belly and eyeing a greased-up menu for all-you-can-eat shrimp. The truth is, I’ll never forget you. After all, it was a landmark moment for me too. I met the shrimp-per-person cut-off that day, which was not well advertised, thank you very much.
Oh, hello there, Grandma. I didn’t see you there under that cloud of shame. Is this better or worse than the time I got an A- in Calculus? You, my MVP of constructive feedback!
Yes, how well I know that you only gained 10 pounds when you were pregnant for all four children. Oh, I remember, desirable even when gestating; all the men said so in reverent whispers, no? Your husband wanted to look in your eyes adoringly as he softly stroked your hair until you fell asleep? Your children were perfectly behaved A (not A-) students as you blossomed into the pregnant beauty icon you were? This all sounds so close to my personal experience.
I learned so much from you during my time of need. You talked about how I shouldn’t have to buy any new clothes, because did I think I was the Queen of Siam or something, and pregnant women should just fit in their normal clothes anyway. And those raised eyebrows when you looked at my dinner plate! I call them the Arches of Doom. But of course, if I didn’t finish the food you cooked, it was all, “Did you know how my ancestors starved without even a grain of rice to call their own?”
Grandma, I ask you, which is it? You want me to eat more or less? You’re worse than a New Year’s Jenny Craig commercial.
Sir, please don’t leave. You don’t leave when a pregnant lady is publicly berating you. Every single modern etiquette book says so. OK, sure, we’ll do you next. I know you’ve got a Fortnite convention to attend.
The time you worried about me so much that you sniffed my glass of club soda to make sure it wasn’t vodka—really, a gesture of such chivalrous display, it made me feel like I was back in the 1800s.
You, my coworker, of the novelty tees and ironic mullet. How could I forget that a man such as you, expert in all things tech-related, would also be an expert in pregnancy? The time you worried about me so much that you sniffed my glass of club soda to make sure it wasn’t vodka—really, a gesture of such chivalrous display, it made me feel like I was back in the 1800s. Thanks, too, for the lecture you gave me afterwards about the importance of sobriety during pregnancy. It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to move to Europe, where the wine is plentiful in all seasons of life. And the guide to pregnancy you dropped on my desk at work, with a meaningful, “I thought you could really use this.” They don’t make men like you anymore.
Oh, there you are, seasoned mothers of my general acquaintance. I see you with your Louis Vuitton bags and knowing smirks. Where are the husbands tonight? Ah, yes, cowering in their man caves with HGTV and a shredded will to live. Same, same. Thank you ladies for telling me all your many horror stories about childbirth. It’s especially helpful when you describe things in those wonderfully graphic terms. Did I know that it’s like squeezing a watermelon through… I’ll stop you right there. I know it all, thanks to you. I could write a whole book full of pregnancy horror stories, so prepared am I. Prepared and scared shitless, but that’s neither here nor there.
I could write a whole book full of pregnancy horror stories, so prepared am I. Prepared and scared shitless.
And, lastly, to all of you nameless people in the back who said, “You’re HUGE!” with so much awe and thinly veiled disgust—thank you. Without you, I would never have known that my body had changed. Those who commented on my swollen ankles, those who made comments about how I’d never get my figure back: you are the unsung heroes. Few know how much courage it takes to say something so callous and ridiculously obvious to a stranger. But you, you have no such qualms! I applaud you. You really remind us all that a woman’s body is always a public spectacle, and no less so when she’s pregnant. In fact, pregnancy gives people even more of a license to give feedback. I’m honored to be the recipient.
Our time has come to an end here, but don’t worry. Some of you fine people may be invited back next week, when I talk with all those who touched my pregnant belly without permission.
You can let yourselves out, but before you go, can someone please help be down from this podium so I can kick each and every one of you in the shins?