Featured Story: Hilary

I have found that the mostly likely place to encounter unsolicited belly pats and comments from strangers is at Wal-Mart. There seems to be no other common denominator except for the fact that the socially incompetent thrive cruising the aisles buying underwear and milk. As I load my son into the shopping cart, the onslaught is almost instantaneous.

"It's a girl, right?"

"No, it's actually a boy," I reply.

"No, no, no, honey, it's a girl," replies the braless woman clad in her finest Lynard Skynard concert wear. And there's a part of me that wants to protest, but what would be the point? She clearly thinks her beer-buzzed intuition is far superior to, oh say, highly trained level two ultrasound technicians.

"Yeah, maybe so," I say as we pass. She huffs triumphantly and heads towards the pharmacy.

"Mija, you are having twins, no?" enter the Hispanic grandma, who here in South Texas garners the same respect as the Pope. You don't mess with Abuela. But she's touching me and accusing me of hiding a second fetus. This one is tricky.

"Actually, no it's just one," I manage a smile. I shift attempting to move her hand away, but she's suddenly three inches closer to my boob.

"Don't eat too much, mija, or the baby will never get out," she pats my son's cheek with a grin. Under her breath blesses him in Spanish as she shuffles away. Despite all that touching, Abuela is a good-hearted woman, and you can't dislike her. She is clearly genuinely concerned about my child being able to exit my body. I am more perplexed than angry. I mean, has she ever actually known someone whose baby never got out? Is there some woman wandering the streets with a five year old still lodged in her belly because she couldn't stay away from Ding Dongs and Cheetos?

As I move to pay, the woman in front of me looks at my son. I see her glance back and forth from my son to my belly as she unloads her cart. Her baby coos at me from the infant carrier in the front of her basket.

"How old is he?" she motions with her head towards my son.

"He's almost four," I reply, proudly looking at my boy.

"No," she sadly shakes her head,"they're too far apart." She then suddenly interrupts herself to shout-no SHRIEK- at a little boy sporting a cast who has gone behind the adjacent register, and if I'm not mistaken, was actively searching for the silent alarm. For some reason, after retrieving him, she feels compelled to launch into a diatribe about child spacing and explains to me I've simply waited too long. They will fight. They won't be friends. The older one is too set in his ways. "You shouldn't have waited so long," she laments.

I am too stunned to think of a reply. I know, though, what I wanted to say. "I hear ya, sister. If that last baby I'd been carrying hadn't gone off and died on us, it would have been sooooo much easier. And all that infertility stuff, wow, I mean, that totally jacked up the whole system. And the crazy thing is, all those years I couldn't have a baby I felt so incompetent and like I was doing it all wrong. Just when I finally felt normal, felt like I'd finally gotten it right, you, thank GOD, are here to tell me that I'm still doing it wrong. I guess we should just give this baby away to someone else, a better person, maybe like you, because apparently we are hopelessly SCREWED." But I am silent. I am numb as I watch her walk out into the parking lot. She searches for her keys while her son darts out into traffic. I want to laugh at her absurdity and cry at her unintentional cruelty.

I pay for my purchases, and kiss my son's head. He seems confused by the interaction, as he is wise beyond his years.

"Well, I like the baby, mommy."

"So do I, Boo, " and am surprised to find myself searching the exit for Abuela, and wondering if she'd give me a hug.

mom to Tabor, who will be four August 9th
Due with my next miracle also on August 9th

The above is a compilation of comments I received from about 7-9 months of pregnancy.


Featured Story: Dayna Reader Chalif

when i became pregnant with my first child, i was working as a psychotherapist at a substance abuse recovery program for women. many of the women i was working with had lost their children to the foster care system, or to family members. others still had legal custody of their children, but they had caused serious harm to their children (physically and emotionally) and to the mother-child relationship through their behavior and addiction. even if a client did not have children of her own, every woman there was somebody's daughter, and those were some seriously complicated relationships as well.

as my belly started to grow, some of the women began to notice. one day as i was teaching some kind of class, somebody asked me point blank if i was pregnant and i told them that i was. something happened from that point on that was so unexpected and really touching for me.

the women began calling my baby "our baby." some would lovingly pat my belly as i walked by and ask "how's our baby doing?" others would get down close and whisper things to my belly, their hopes and dreams for "our baby." what you have to understand is that some of these women were really tough. many had spent time in the state penitentiary, almost all had spent countless nights on the street, many had prostituted themselves for drugs. but there wasn't one who wasn't sweet and loving towards "our baby" and protective of me (case in point, they smoked cigarettes around each other and even around their own kids, but if i walked up while someone was smoking and she didn't put the cigarette out immediately, she'd inevitably get a smack from another woman and a "hey, put that out! it's bad for our baby!") .

they had made mistakes with their own children they knew they could never correct, and their own mothers had abused and neglected them when they were young. and yet, they looked at me, saw a healthy woman in a solid relationship (this they assumed, as i didn't talk about my partner at all) about to bring a baby into the world, and they fell in love with my baby and rejoiced in my growing belly nearly as much as i did.

i believe my pregnancy was healing for a lot of those women. it certainly was a catalyst for helping them bring up topics of being mothered and mothering that i don't think would have arisen otherwise. and all that attention to my belly? i thought it would bother me, but it didn't at all. each time my belly was touched, i pictured my baby receiving all that good energy, all the hopes and dreams of these women, and i knew it was a good thing.


Featured Story: Lesley Allen

I was carrying my pregnancy quite well, I thought; the early stages of cravings and nausea led to me only being able to consume fresh fruit and veg, so I lost a lot of the weight I had acquired over the years, and my belly grew nice and roundy and had a lovely pregnant look. But by 5 months gestation, people were commenting "Oh dear, you must not have long to go now!" and when I said no and gave my due date, people looked at me in shock and sympathy. I even had a bus driver comment, "Girl, you MUST be having twins." Many people told me I was the "most pregnant-looking woman ever". Honestly, I knew my belly was big...did people think they needed to tell me because I looked like I was unaware? Sigh. The commentary weighed pretty heavily (no pun intended!) on my mind, and I started having dreams that my belly just kept growing until it was larger than me, another where my skin just spilt. Other newly pregnant looked at me in fright....

Hey, you be the judge: (Lesley Allen, @33-34 weeks)
lesley allen


Featured Story: Melissa B. Aitken

I was about six months pregnant when you could actually say I started looking pregnant instead of gaining weight. A co worker was walking up as I was talking about my pregnancy to another co worker and she says "Oh, you are pregnant! I thought you were just gaining weight and your ass was getting wider". I was shocked.