Alexander

 

Today, something a little bit weird happened.

A friend recently mentioned the term ‘space invaders’ when it comes to pregnancy and small children, which instantly made me remember a strange incident when my second child was just a baby.

As I was leaving the toilets of a local theatre, my 5-month-old baby Alexander in arms, a group of ladies in their late 50’s entered, meaning we literally crossed paths at the bathroom door…cue sweet cooing at my little man before one of the women stopped, declared she thought he was gorgeous then picked him up. Yep, just like that. A stranger (lovely as she seemed) scooped him right out of my arms and went in for a cuddle.

I was a little surprised, to say the least. Not concerned, not vulnerable, just surprised. If she’d asked, I would have probably said yes. This woman wasn’t going to run away with my baby (let’s face it there’s no way she’d cope with the 3am feeds and she was about to see a play she’d paid good money for) and in all seriousness, though I know we live in a world where baby stealing shizzle sadly happens, my back was to the door, preventing a possible baby steal and I had at least a stone and a half of baby weight on her.

Perhaps it was the fact she didn’t ask that was so alarming.

Truthfully, I wish we actually lived in a world where I could hand out my baby for free daily hugs (it would totally make people happier, I know it does me) but that’s never going to happen.

Yes, there are cultural and generational distinctions of what is acceptable, I totally get it, I’m a British Greek, my cheeks have been pulled by so many random fellow Greeks, I still, aged 32 never require blusher (ouch!) but I suppose personal space should be respected…which brings me nicely to the bump feelers.

I hereby refer to randoms and not so randoms (but still folks you don’t feel comfortable with) touching your impregnated womb/protruding tummy as a result of your up- the- duff-ness, the bump feelers. I understand, pregnancy is a beautiful, awe-inspiring, what the f**** is going on/ meaning of life visible, growing event for all to see and people want to be a part of that, they want to touch, feel, get closer to the miracle of life (a bit like my Mum desperately having to touch the sculptures at The Musée d’Orsay’ in Paris, ‘Because sculptures were created to be touched, Vicki…If they tell me off, I’ll just tell them I’m blind’ hmmm…but there have to be boundaries.

A cashier in the supermarket leaning over to touch your bumpage is not A-OK.

Ok, that never happened but I have had randoms touch my bump, though, friends of friends’ husbands (WT…) but mostly and only in my first pregnancy. Yes. it’s even creepier if men do it, but women bump feelers can still be unnerving.

Perhaps I learnt how to hand duck with my second bump and truthfully, I could just about let close friends and family members handle the goods and even then, I often did the bump swerve.

To me, touching the bump was an intimate, personal thing reserved for my partner and I and at the end of the day, it was still my flipping stomach, not a faux extension, fake film set style bump for all to feel in the props department.

What, I ask you, makes pregnant women, public property? Perhaps I should have returned the gesture by feeling said randoms’ own tummies. Yes, a stranger’s stomach. Weird, right? But not much weirder than touching a bump belonging to a person you barely know or grabbing a random baby for a squeeze now is it?

So what say you? Has your bump been felt and baby held by strangers and if so, what did you do?

Photograph  ©Peter Broadbent.

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43 Responses

  1. Mim @ www.mamamim.com

    I love this – oh so accurate! I can’t believe someone actually took Alexander from you – well I can and I can’t. It’s as if there is no longer a ‘line of politeness’ when you’re pregnant and just because your bump has physically crossed over into their dance space, they feel justified in giving it a pat! Mim 🙂
    Mim @ http://www.mamamim.com recently posted…My 2015 New Year’s Resolution 1 – Re-Learning to DriveMy Profile

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Bit scary isn’t it?! You seem to be public property once you’re pregnant or have children. The woman in question was sweet and harmless but not asking was so strange x

      Reply
  2. Amanda

    I was fine for family and friends to touch the bump, especially when DD was kicking about in there. Thankfully only had one or two strangers try and touch my bump so I think I got off lightly! In the end though, it didn’t really bother me that much. I found baby touchers much much worse. I had no problems with people looking and cooing but I hated when people touched my daughter when she was a newborn. Thankfully haven’t had anyone snatch her out of my arms, although I have let people hold her when they have asked (if they don’t seem too batty!).

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Amanda I think the bump touching is such a personal thing in the sense everyone is different about how they feel about it. I think most people have good intentions and love babies but they really need to ask first!

      Reply
  3. MsXpat

    I hated having my bump rubbed by anyone. Fortunately or unfortunately it didn’t happen often due to my serious demeanor and the fact that most people who know me know that I’m not a huggy kinda person much less touch.

    I Do remember one time though I was in at the chemist and the cashier practically grab my son out of my arms. I was still in the post pregnancy and birth haze I just stood there, then looked at hubby who then looked back at me in dumb silence. But reckon that because she was on duty and at the till we did not panic much I’m pretty certain if it had happened on the street I’d be might have lost it.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @MsXpat I do think (hope) a lot of it is done with good intentions but as a parent and protector to a small baby, it really feels unnerving when people invade your space for reach for your baby without asking.

      Reply
  4. Rachael (Mushroomsmum)

    No-one touched my bump while I was pregnant (well, not without permission!I would have hated that) but one of my friends did have he bottom fondled by a woman in a clothes shop!

    As for touching Mushroom – when he was a babe in arms, my husband was always saying ‘don’t let people touch his face.’ As if I would. But a lot of people wanted to squeeze his cheeks (yeah he has those cheeks too) and I’d politely refuse… However, more recently (a few months ago), a man in the street said hello to us and started talking to Mushroom then picked him up out of the blue! I grabbed him back and told him how rude it was to touch someone without permission – however young they are! I now always keep Mushroom very close when we’re talking to new people to prevent anything similar happening again. I’m very uncomfortable with it. Ask permission, people!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Mushroomsmum I think people instictively want to touch and hold babies and people feel differently about whether that’s OK or not. I think at the very least people should ask first so you have the option to refuse! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  5. Mary

    What is it about seeing a baby bump or tiny baby that makes strangers abandon all common sense and sensitivity and turn into groping personal space invaders?! Let’s hope some of them read this intelligent and thoughtfully written post and take time to consider their behaviour in the future!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Mary thank you for your lovely comment. I think/hope most are well meaning but manners would go a long way!

      Reply
  6. Helen Braid

    Yes! That happened to me – random bump touching. I’m not the touchy feely sort at the best of times let alone when pregnant… As for strangers grabbing my baby – I thankfully didn’t experience that! x

    Reply
  7. older mum in a muddle

    Gosh – I was shocked reading that. I didn’t have any strangers patting my bump or grabbing Little A for a cuddle – but I would have been very angry if they had done – there are still boundaries with a bump and babe!

    Reply
  8. sarahhillwheeler

    Thank you for your lovely post. I agree there are generational and cultural aspects. I don’t think anybody invaded my bump space during pregnancy (guess I have that aura too and nine months of morning sickness and sleepless didn’t improve my approachability). But it is kind of weird, why should being pregnant make it acceptable to have your tummy felt by strangers?

    The baby thing I can identify with a bit more, I guess it’s because babys are not just sweet and cute, but the next generation, so may be older people feel connected in this way, but agree it is only right to ask. I wouldn’t have taken kindly to having J taken off me.

    I’d certainly never taking a crying baby off a mother…. not least because I’m pretty sure I would have the opposite to a soothing effect on them.

    Your post made me laugh too. I can’t but help think of that scene in Alice and Wonderland I think, when the baby the Duchess is nursing turns out to be a pig. Sorry, I just have visions of a little old lady snatching and cooing over a baby that turns out to be a pig.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @sarahhillwheeler certainly agree babies are terribly cute and I don’t mind folks holding my baby, as long as they ask. That is funny…my little is definitely not a piglet though hehe!

      Reply
  9. Narrowboat Wife

    Never had my bump felt but would feel quite invaded if it happened! Nor had a a stranger snatch my babe for a cuddle, but I remember a family member taking a crying babe from me without asking, assuming perhaps she could soothe her better than I could? I felt quite affronted although I guess she was just trying to help… People should ask!!! And don’t get me started on strangers in the street offering parenting advice…

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Narrowboat Wife Now that would really infuriate me and it often does when my Dad does it. I know it comes from a loving place but aargh! Oh gosh, parenting advice is another annoyance but I tend to smile sweetly and ignore unless it’s useful!

      Reply
  10. Victoria Naudi

    Wow, that’s crazy! I thought randoms touching my daughter when she was a teeny precious babe in the pram was bad enough (how do I know where their germy hands have been?!). I’m not quite sure how I’d have reacted if they’d tried to scoop her up!

    Reply
  11. Mum of One

    Argghhh they both drive me nuts. An elderly lady once snatched my 3 month old son from my arms at a funeral. My first instinct was to slap her….luckily I didn’t as it turned out to be the husbands great aunt. I also had a 50ish male patient of mine attempt to rub my bump. I backed off quicker than lightening and I don’t think he will be trying it again.

    Reply
  12. Vicky

    I carry my little girl in a sling, and – I suppose because she’s at eye level – people often come and rub her cheeks, stroke her head, tickle her feet. It’s weird. She rarely smiles when they do this, opting instead for the “Who the hell are you” expression.

    Also, my sister is pregnant and just starting to get a bump. I’ve already given her the pep-talk about “people will touch your belly without asking. Get used to taking sudden steps backwards to avoid them.”

    Reply
  13. Babes about Town

    I already commented on this on FB, find it weird and sometimes creepy especially with perfect strangers reaching out for grabs. That said, I would find it hard to keep my hands off your little Alex.

    To whom I have one note: STOP THE CUTENESS! I CAN’T STAND IT! x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Babesabouttown it can be quite strange but hehe I agree it is hard to not want to cuddle the cutie. I can’t wait for you to meet him and get a proper cuddle x

      Reply
  14. sharcasm

    I cannot believe the rudeness of people, why would you go up to a stranger and touch their bump? How do people think that’s okay? You are touching a strange person’s body!! I can imagine people wanting to cuddle Alexander, he really is the cutest boy alive, but still, to actually go from wanting to cuddle him to actually taking him off your hands without asking…people have no shame. xx

    Reply
  15. Franki

    It’s the bump thing that really really bothers me. You would never randomly touch someones stomach in any other circumstance, being pregnant doesn’t change that. I don’t even ask friends if I can as I feel it makes you feel under pressure to say yes when like you said its a very personal thing.

    Having said that it would be awesome to live in a society where its completely normal to touch each other (not like that) and cuddle and fuss peoples babies without feeling threatened!

    Xx

    Reply
  16. 21st century mummy

    Try living in Asia. The locals love babies and young kids. When I first got here it freaked me out when people (men and women) wanted to take pictures, squeeze their cheeks or pick them up. It is definitely cultural. Coming from London, it took a while to get used to
    It. I am still wary but try to be more relaxed about it.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @21centurymummy I think in another country different cultural norms need to be considered as you said (doesn’t mean you feel more comfortable) but I suppose over time you get used to it. If the lady had asked, I would have been fine with it.

      Reply
  17. Countryidyll

    Love this post, thanks! Although I have never had a baby, I can fully sympathise with you and understand exactly how you must feel by having unwelcome hands on your person!
    We wouldn’t expect people to touch our bums, boobs or thighs if we weren’t pregnant, so why do people think that they have the right to lay hands on us, just because we’re pregnant?
    I’m not a shy person and will grab somebody’s arm to make a point, or put my arm around them if they’re sad, but I would never touch a pregnant lady’s tummy, no matter how well I knew her.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Countryidyll you raise a good point on touching other body parts. I think people think they have a license to touch a bump and I’m not sure why!

      Reply
  18. Knitty Mummy

    Nobody ever tried to take my baby for a cuddle without asking, and nobody ever touched my bump. But I did have my daughter on reigns one day when I was approached by someone with a clipboard. Using my daughter as an excuse not to talk to him I gestured that with her on the go I couldn’t possibly stop – at which point he took the reigns out of my hand!!! I did go slightly mental at this point.

    Reply
  19. Mirka Moore @Kahanka

    That is actually scary, I would freak out and probably wouldn’t handle the situation as well as you… on the other hand, I am one of the bump touchers, but only my close friends’ bumps ;))) and I didn’t mind my friends touching my bump eitehr, but no strangers that’s for sure!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Mirka had the woman not looked so sweet, yes it could be scary but agree about strangers not touching the bump. My close friends I didn’t mind x

      Reply
  20. Joanna Henley

    Its worse when a lovely old lady pats your tummy………and you’re not pregnant!! Oh yes, happened to me this week. I know my tummy muscles are naffed since BIG baby number 3, but still: :'(

    Reply
  21. Deborabora

    I had a couple of gropes in my first pregnancy. One old lady in a queue for a bra fitting and one by a friend of ours (male) who said at the same time “the only time this is acceptable is when a lady is pregnant”. Although a really close friend, it did feel rather uncomfortable and awkward.

    I think I must give off “don’t you dare touch my bump” vibes though generally as it only happened those times with first pg and none with second.

    No random Baby grabbers though Callum was hair ruffled & cheek squeezed by a stranger at aged 3 and poor thing looked rather distressed by it & really wasn’t sure how to react.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Deborabora you see your friend thinks it’s acceptable so maybe more do too…I really don’t think it is with strangers…yes the instinct is probably there to touch but there needs to be boundaries!

      Reply

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