Many Hands – by Lisa Kelly
There is a guy at work who asks me “Is the belly public property yet?”. Even though I tell him yes, he still asks every time before he touches. Some people ask, most people just jump right in and hold my giant abdomen as if it’s a basketball. This kid moves almost constantly and due to her positioning, it’s obvious when she is frolicking around. To me, my belly looks like I have a 30 gallon trash bag full of feral cats under my shirt. To friends, it’s like a sneak preview of the little one that will soon be here. They want to feel her kick and twist. They gasp in wonder at how they can feel her head. They think it’s so cool when she drags a foot across my midsection.
When I was pregnant the first time 20 years ago, that sort of attention felt like an intrusion on my personal space. I would throw up a hand to block any attempts to touch me. Now that I’m much older, I realize this is not just about me. My friends are genuinely excited and touching her through my belly is the only way they can be a part of what is happening right now. In a weird way, my belly is not my own right now. It’s the temporary home of my baby girl who is already very loved by so many people.
I often have trouble trying to envision my life with a new baby but I never have a problem imagining the many loving hands that are anxiously waiting to embrace her. I know when I have my moments of weakness, and I will, those same hands will be there to hold me up.