When you become the “talk of the village”

Like the forbidden fruit in the days of Eden, your pregnancy is likely to elicit huge interest from friends and foe.

What therefore do you do when you find yourself, practically or by your own imagination, on the receiving end from the public?

Your pregnancy is now the talk of the village. Even if yours is a planned one, you will be surprised at the sensation it will create among your close acquaintances and your fiercest foe. You are officially pregnant and your tummy will surely protrude and make the big announcement.

What are people likely to say when they hear you are pregnant? Oh, plenty, whatever you do, whatever number of pregnancies you have or have not had and whatever the status of your marriage or lack of it. Whatever you do!

Surprise and ridicule

When your pregnancy is finally obvious, there are two quite common questions the public might pose (of course not to you!). One relates to the father of your baby and the other concerns the timing of your pregnancy.

If you are single, the identity of your baby’s father is big news. It is even hotter stuff if no one can really put a finger on the mystery guy. And even though no one tells you so, heads are turning at every corner and gossip lines are wide open! A large crowd is waiting to see whether wedding bells are in the making.

If you are married and your dude is known to be promiscuous, this is for you: ‘that’s a blind woman…she does not know he is in love with another..’ If he is irresponsible, then have this: ‘the new baby is meant to bring him back home.’ If your man is a penniless bloke, your pregnancy is really interesting news: ‘How will she survive with their meager resources?’

Steady marriage

Even if you have a steady marriage, people will count the months or years between your babies and this makes very worthwhile analysis.

It is true that many babies, even in steady marriages, are conceived unexpectedly. Especially the second baby, coming ‘too soon’ and unannounced and the third baby arriving several years after the second; in some cases a third born was never supposed to have been.

Going into hiding

It seems that whatever your pregnancy circumstances, you cannot run away from public scrutiny. The subconscious reaction is for you to go into hiding or to avoid public appearances as much as possible. One would expect that only young girls whose boyfriends are unlikely to acknowledge their role in the pregnancy or unlikely to accede to marriage would go into hiding upon discovery of pregnancy. There are scores of married women, even with very stable marriages, going into some form of ‘hiding’ after conceiving.

Many expectant mothers who let public opinion get the upper hand find themselves lonely and confined. Even married women with a good family life can go underground if they feel they are not planning their pregnancies properly. Sometimes you might have disagreed with your husband because he did not want another baby (he can be forgiven for forgetting that he was very active when you two made love).

Talk of the village

As you walk along the streets, you may sometimes feel as though everyone knows you are carrying a ‘mistake.’ It can also be more stressful if you have a small baby in addition to your latest pregnancy or you are an old mama who seems to have been called out of retirement and into the ‘bump’ circles.

Friendly fire

If your pregnancy is thought to be suspect, you can expect anything to come out of the rumour mill… ‘Reliable sources’ will claim that the baby in you is ‘…like a stray bullet from the firearm of a comrade…’ Others will call it ‘extremely friendly fire’ because the father is rumoured to be a heart-to-soul buddy of your husband.

Your friends

We tell our friends virtually everything, especially the ones we think are close to us. This is natural! However, you need to be selective in terms of who you tell what. Keep the deep end of your trials and tribulations away from the public since most of what you say will certainly do the rounds in gossip circles.

Public favours

There is no written law requiring pregnant women to be given any priorities or favours. However, there is a general public expectation, out of tradition, to honour pregnant women.

You nevertheless need to guard yourself against potential embarrassment and disappointment because different people react in different ways towards pregnant women. Close observation shows that most people who do public favours to pregnant women do so out of pity, fear of ridicule by the public or simply pressure from the public eye that expects that you comply with tradition. If you train yourself not to expect favours, each favour will become a moment of joy for you. If you anticipate favours, you will be disappointed when they do not materialize and when they do happen they will only bring you a sign of relief, not necessarily joy.

You must also be ready for certain embarrassing situations: for instance a stubborn commuter may flatly reject your polite request to do you the honours by granting you a seat in a public vehicle. In other cases, unsolicited attempts by understanding people to get you favours may collapse. This may leave you feeling vulnerable and embarrassed: for example someone may petition on your behalf so that you are allowed to skip a queue, only to be turned down by those queuing ahead of you.

Your spouse

If your spouse does not exude confidence and pride over your pregnancy, this could also be another potential source of public embarrassment. For instance, your husband may insist on walking too fast, leaving you panting and struggling to catch up whilst you are heading the same destination. It is advisable in such circumstances to try and not compete with him. And to defer the discussion on why he is leaving you behind to a later hour, once you get home. Do not pick a fight with him on the road!

Your relatives

If your mother disapproves of the father of your child, or if your mother-in-law does not approve of your pregnancy or relationship with her son, you need to be careful about how you relate in public. Some mothers will not hesitate to tell you off in public, or to dress you down… Rule of thumb with such mothers is to avoid provoking them in public.

Going forth

One message though needs to get to you fast: Do not panic. You have just done what God appointed man to do and you are one among millions who have just confirmed their pregnancy status. In other words, you must from now on make up your mind to enjoy the graceful and loving gift of procreation. The circumstances under which you conceived are no longer important. You are pregnant and your focus must now be on how best to take things forward.

END: PG 1/30-31

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