Pregnancy invites unsolicited input

Tonya Garner: CNJ Staff

My grandmother taught me many simple rules, which have served me well in life:

* Keep your hands and feet to yourself;

* If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all;

* Treat others the way you want to be treated.

What is it about a pregnant woman that makes normal, socially acceptable human beings throw these rules out the window?

The keeping-your-hands-to-yourself rule seems to be tossed aside most often. I am in the 25th week (or sixth month for you old-schoolers) of pregnancy with my third child, and I have been groped by complete strangers at Wal-Mart on numerous occasions.

I’ll be standing in line, minding my own business, reading the gossip magazines, eating grapes, carrots or whatever is on top of the $200 worth of groceries in my basket, when out of nowhere some crazed female will rush me with her arms outstretched, fingers twitching and eyes glazed.

She will knead, poke, or rub my protruding stomach.

I have named these women The Touchers. One went so far as to begin baby talking with her face about one inch from my belly button!

Now don’t get me wrong: I am a Texas-raised social kind of girl, but the first time the belly assault happened I was a little shocked.

The Talkers are another category of these pregnancy-obsessed strangers lurking about malls waiting to accost women heavy with child.

These females don’t open the conversation with a casual “hi” or a friendly “how are you?” They prefer a barrage of rapid-fire questions:

* How far along are you?

* Is this your first?

* Have you picked out a name?

* What’s the name?

* Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?

In most instances, I just stand there and smile, waiting for them to take a breath. I’m never quite sure which question to answer first, but it usually leads to a pleasant conversation. These women are by far my favorite because they are genuinely interested.

I call the last group of women The Doctors.

They possess a been-there, done-that attitude and dispense medical advice with a knowing air. I have been told the shape of my stomach and the fullness of my face are telltale signs that I am carrying a girl. This group says morning sickness can be cured by eating everything from salt to sugar.

One woman who spotted me reaching above my head for an item on a high shelf told me it was a proven medical fact that I was choking my unborn baby by raising my arms. I believe that about as much as I believe that heartburn means the baby is going to have lots of hair.

I recently had the pleasure to meet — via phone — a Phoenix woman who has been going through the same thing I’ve been going through. We commiserated about the stares and questions we receive on a daily basis.

Well, Natalie Larson decided to take action. The enterprising mother-to-be measured her pregnant belly and placed it on eBay. For the bargain price of $7,500, Larson said she would become a human billboard by wearing a garment advertising any non-offensive product.

When I heard about this, my first thought was that it’s a great idea. I honestly wish I would have thought of it first.
However, it turns out it wasn’t such a good idea after all. Larson only received psycho marriage proposals, lewd e-mails, and nasty comments from the posting.

So, I have definitely learned a lesson. I should be thankful that everyone with which I come in contact means well, so I plan to be patient, smile and be thankful women in my neighborhood care enough to ask.

Tonya Garner is a Clovis News Journal staff writer. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: