A few nights ago I was in line at the supermarket waiting to pay when I recognised a friend in the queue ahead of me. I said hi, and he introduced his very pregnant wife to me. I beamed congratulations at her, and asked the regular questions: When are you due? Is it a boy or a girl? How are you feeling? She is due at any time; it is a girl and mummy is exhausted. I wished her all the best and they left. The cashier who was serving both of us then laughed and asked: "Hawakuona ati wewe pia unahitaji congratulations?" I too started laughing and suggested they most likely did not notice my almost due pregnancy.
Yes, I am due any day now and they did not notice. I wish I could say this couple and their poor powers of observation stick out as a singular occurrence but they don’t. Just last week, a friend standing next to me in my yoga kit (read shorts and sports bra with belly hanging out) asked: "So, what’s new with you?" – without a trace of mirth in her voice or face. A full minute later she yelled: "OMG! I am so blind! Congratulations!"
Being pregnant has led me to doubt eye witness accounts of all events or the people involved in them. These two incidents happened last week but since I started showing, and I should add, wearing my belly with pride, there have been so many of them that I am very tickled. And no, I have not just been bumping into gay men who would no sooner notice my expanding waistline or new and huge breasts.
Many of us go through life wondering what people will think and what they might say about us. We worry about what we wear, what we drive, where we live and even where our kids go to school. As women, many of us are concerned about wearing makeup and getting our hair done, dressing appropriately and, of course, weight gain. What my pregnancy has shown me is that those around us are so engrossed in their own lives, their own goings-on that they literally do not see what you imagine is right in front of them.
Anyone who works in entertainment will confirm that getting and keeping people’s attention is an enormous task, and that just when you think you have it, the baby cries and that attention is gone. This is after all why advertising costs so much. Pregnancy has highlighted this for me in a whole new way, as friends, acquaintances and even family members who are a mere arm’s length away miss the biggest thing that has ever happened to me, literally.
This realisation has been eye-opening and very freeing. The fact that people do not see what is in front of them and more importantly, that they do not care. I can relax and go out fat, badly dressed and makeup-free because quite frankly, nobody is looking at me.