I got called out for the first time two weeks ago. I walked into the Trump tower to start shooting a bride getting ready for her wedding, and a very smiley bellhop had to give me access to the elevators. While we were waiting in awkward silence for the next available lift, he said "are you expecting eh bebi?" in a darling Eastern European accent. It was the first time a stranger has brought up my pregnancy and I was surprised."Yes I am", I said.
"Oh (smile smile) congratulations".
And then I stepped into the elevator and when the doors closed, took a look at myself and realized that it really was obvious, even under my flowy black dress.
I really relished the 22 weeks I had of pregnancy anonymity before this. I had a secret and no one knew. Even when I had the awkward pudge that looked to be perhaps a pregnancy and perhaps not, it didn't bother me because I knew what was happening with my body. I could show up to a 12-hour wedding with not a hint of weakness and smile through exhaustion and nausea and hide my face behind my camera and get no questions about how I was feeling, which, in a professional setting, I always tend to believe actually means "are you sure you can handle this?".
It's not a very big deal, I'm just aware that I've jumped categories in the world from "lady" to "pregnant lady". I try not to feel judgement as I step outside of Starbucks with my hot drink and notice a few older women whose eyes are on my belly. "It's decaf, I promise!", I want to tell them, then wonder why I care.
In the last two weeks since the bellhop started it all, I've gotten lots of (positive) comments from those who know me about my changing shape. I think most people feel an obligation to voice the fact that they notice the change, lest it seem like they don't care. If I were to be completely honest, this part just makes me uncomfortable and squirmy. I feel exposed. BUT-- I know that people are kind and happy for us. Their hearts get warm at the thought of us having a baby and they're just trying to express that, however it happens to come out of their mouths. So when my instinct is to bristle at the slightest mention of my girth, I try to resist and instead thank them genuinely. The only comment I've really liked came from a woman who saw me for the first time in a while and said: "Oh Bethany! You look so healthy!". I really loved hearing that.
So far no one (outside of family) has reached out and touched my belly without invitation. I'm not sure what I'll do when that happens. I just don't like the thought of it at all.