Ah the Patters. Not, as you might imagine, the pattering of tiny feet but the patting of bellies. Of my belly, to be precise. Pat pat pat, there they go, the patters, patting away as if I have a big 'pat me' sign engineered to the enlarging mass of my midriff. I don't, I've checked. OK so I'm knocked up, bun in the oven, one in the goal, up the duff, preggers, hiding Larry in the haystack, in the family way, showing, blooming, at one with the mother goddess, pregnant. One would think by the way my tummy gets fondled by hands strange and familiar that I am single-handedly carrying the future of the human race.
The last two weeks have seen an influx of family, relatives and various friends, many of whom have taken the opportunity to lay hands on my elasticated waistband and make goo goo faces at me. Oddly, it seems the closer people are to me and the most likely therefore to have permission to actually lay hands on me, the less likely they are to actually do so. Perhaps they know that I bite. My parents, for example, possibly didn't lay a finger on the bump. My husband has to have his hand actively dragged to it. For others, however no such fear seems to exist. A few have gotten away with it on merit... notably my Uncle Peter, 'Peter the Patter' who by virtue of being a priest and therefore blessing the bump with each touch is allowed as many pats as he can handle - in fact I would install him permanently in the spare room if he wasn't needed by his parishioners in Canada, those pesky pixies. The majority, by which I mean work colleagues, have gotten away with it purely because social mores dictate that baring my teeth and hissing like an alley-cat in meetings would probably lose me my job.
They warn you about this, ‘they’, the pregnancy books, Those Who Have Gone Before (ie, half my friends), the magazines, they warn you that at some mystery point in pregnancy one becomes public property but it really is a shocker, not least because I have clearly passed the invisible line between public and private property, the line between 'chub ball' and 'pregnant woman' and pretending that this is just a temporary experience is becoming more and more difficult.
The other side effect of this is that every single woman (and I mean this Every Single One) who I know or work with who has had a baby - including some people I have only just met - have told me their birth stories. Every one. I can tell you how long the labour was, how many stitches and what they were doing when their waters broke for every Mother in my office, all my friends and a neighbour. AND, which is worse, the wives of nearly ALL of the Dads AND the friends of some of the non-parents. Seriously. People can't stop themselves. It's like this veil drops down over their eyes, their minds shut down and all they can think about is how amazing it is that a baby ACTUALLY fits through 'down there' and how I really must be warned because obviously I need to know. Seriously. I have been trapped in the corridor between two offices at least three times by women recounting their labour stories. Worse, on two occasions they were joined by someone else passing by who chipped in with their wifes/best friend's/own labour. Once, the person passing by was one who had stopped me already so I got to hear her story twice. I was in a meeting with 5 other woman and one man and there were technical troubles, and during the technical troubles I heard two new stories and the one I'd heard twice for the third time. I am deadly serious, it's like some sort of madness. Clearly I have to try to battle this urge should I successfully give birth and then encounter a pregnant woman or I will have to put myself up against a wall and shoot myself.
So that's it, no more to report. After nearly a month of visitors, late days at work and social functions I am officially knackered, worn out, scrapped, puffed and ready to collapse. The same cannot be said of The Blob who is a definite fidget-pants. He celebrated his last ordeal by scan by moving around so much that the doctors couldn't get a good look at him for ages. He is apparently looking as good as possibly and while anomalies cannot be ruled out (except the anomaly of having me and D for parents), all is well and he is, I am assured actually in there...
So, this is it. I'm pregnant. In three and a half months time, there will be a permanent appendage strapped to my every move. I will no longer be a single person, I will have parthenogenicised into two, no matter what the biology books like to pretend. It gives me panic attacks just thinking about it. My other half is dealing slightly better than I am by seeing this all as a marvellous chance to buy new things and find new bargains. I have no idea if he realises that those lovely cots he's been looking at will one day be full of squirming flesh, puke, shit, wee and baby clothes or if he just fantasises about a minimalist white room with a cubist cot in the centre, lit by a cunning lighting plan.
I know I don't. I have absolutely no belief that at the end of this there will be a baby.
wait and see...