Growing Pains: Smile! I’m Pregnant. The unexpected and welcome side effects of a baby belly.

Expecting_motherWelcome to our new pregnancy blog, Growing Pains, from expecting mother, and our new intern, Ana Hart. Check back in weekly for updates on her (baby) bump-y road to parenthood.

It all began around my 25th week of pregnancy. My stomach was finally protruding enough so that there was no more question as to whether I was pregnant, or whether I had just eaten several large burritos in quick succession. My friend Kasey had invited me to tag along with her as she went about the city marketing her new dog hiking business.

It was early June and the weather had finally broken for good. Everywhere we went, we encountered droves of people hurrying about their busy day. I got the distinct impression that there was much more smiling than usual on these seemingly not-so-mean streets of Baltimore. I attributed it to the early summer rapture—that universal joy of coming out of hibernation and knowing that shorts and summer dresses are back in rotation for the long haul.

Boy, was I wrong. It turned out that the smiles on the faces of my fellow Baltimoreans were direct products of my enlarged belly. “Do people smile at you because you’re pregnant?” Kasey asked, pointing out that in the days prior, she went marketing by herself and ended up attracting nothing but the usual array of annoyed looks.

In the weeks that followed, I confirmed this to be the unassailable truth of my condition. It was unnerving, really, because at first I couldn’t quite tell if the smiles were products of people happy for me, or of those secretly reveling in their knowledge of the purported mountain of difficulties that was in store for this naïve first-time mother. “Oh, but it’s all so worth it,” inevitably followed the gruesome parenting revelations everyone suddenly loved telling me about.

It did not take me long, though, to train myself not only to recognize those genuinely-happy-for-me people, but also then use the belly to my advantage. I mean, if all my interactions from now on must revolve around light interrogations about my pregnancy with random persons on the street, then I may as well make it work in my favor. Now, I’m no more manipulative than the next gal, but the weather got hotter and before I knew it, I developed a waddle and couldn’t even paint my toenails by myself. Thankfully, it turns out, pregnancy is a human decency enforcer. I got help with my bags at the grocery store—a first for me. Vehicles courteously slowed down when they saw me crossing the street instead of speeding up in the usual frenzied Baltimore driver way. Everywhere I went, strangers promptly ceded their seats and places in line to me.

And I? I took it all without a trace of guilt because pregnancy is rough, my friends, and I deserve this.

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