When Savvy was pregnant with our first child, she didn’t really start showing all that much until around five months. However, with the advent of the twins things are different, most notably the rate of expansion around her belly. At three months it was clear she was pregnant, but now that we’re at five months, it is downright blatant.
As the weather has warmed up, and the jacket has come off, there is no being inconspicuous about the pregnancy. Consequently, the norms of personal space just got a lot smaller for Savvy, at least as far as her belly is concerned. As near as I can tell, if you are pregnant in China, the bulge is public property. Most close friends have the decency to ask to touch her burgeoning bulge, but even work acquaintances do not hesitate to give her a quick rub, almost like a lucky charm.
The other day she was standing in a packed elevator at work and it could not ascend fast enough for Savvy. While one colleague rested her hand on Savvy’s belly, another was rubbing it and commenting on how she could even feel the belly button protruding out. The entire time, the rest of the occupants of the elevator watched on with envy, wishing they were in a position to stroke the lucky pregnant lady. Savvy felt mortified by the unwanted fondling and attention.
Unfortunately, unsolicited belly caresses are a personal hardship that she must endure for several more months until the babies are delivered. I suggested next time that she simply rests her hand on the head of any unauthorized belly feeler or muss their hair whenever people touch without permission. Of course, that would not be very culturally sensitive, but it would make a funny story. Ah, the joys of cross cultural communication whilst living in a global society.
Photo by Nicholaus Haskins of flickr