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.