Something about a woman in the later stages of pregnancy brings out the crazy in people around her. Not just the crazy, but the stupid. The ridiculous. The outstandingly inappropriate.
The starting point for external crazy begins when a pregnant woman’s stride changes from the normal one-foot-in-front-of-the-other gait to the waddle-side-to-side-with-one-hand-on-the-small-of-your-back march. Every pregnancy I’ve had has testified to this.
With my firstborn, a lady came up to me in a Wal-Mart, put both hands on my belly uninvited, slipped into a seance-like trance for a moment, and then told me my baby would be born without eyes.
With my second, a grandmotherly woman gently patted my belly, and then my hips and butt-cheeks, and told me I was made for breeding.
With my third, at a wedding shower, my own grandmother told me that she and I needed to stick together throughout the party because we were the fat girls in the room. (This woman has a knack for snark…like the time she told me how pretty I looked…followed by the phrase, Isn’t it amazing what makeup can do for a person?)
So now, here I am, about a month away from the glorious act of giving birth. I’ve got a waddle that any duck would be jealous of, a belly that puts Santa to shame, and Lord Almighty, the crazies are out to get me.
I’m a meal planner. If I wasn’t, we literally would never, ever eat at home. Meal planning saves my culinary hide, time and time again. The downfall to this, however, is the massive grocery shop I do twice a month. I spend an ungodly amount of time in the ginormous supermarket around the corner from my house, waddling from one end to the other, precariously stocking my cart like it’s a mobile, volatile game of Jenga while trying to keep my lovely three-year-old from accidentally toppling over the giant display of Velveeta. Or freeing the tank of lobsters, who she feels would be much happier out of the water. Or from opening every box of cookies, fruit snacks, pop-tarts, or whatever junk food happens to be within her reach.
Grocery shopping is stressful.
Yesterday was grocery shopping day.
Thankfully, we made it through the experience without incident…until we got in line to check out.
As I was putting my groceries on the conveyor belt, my lovely belly decided it was time to pull out its favorite labor-conditioning activity: Braxton-Hicks contractions. Anybody who’s had multiple kids knows these contractions get stronger with each consecutive child. It’s not actual labor – it’s just a pregnant woman’s body’s way of reminding her that, This thing you’re about to experience? You know, popping a kid out of your lady-bits? Yeah. It’s gonna hurt like hell. I’m sure there’s a more practical, biological reason for the fake contractions, but at that particular moment, I didn’t really care what it was. At that point, all that mattered was that my abdomen had begun to clench down like a snapping turtle jacked up on Red-Bull and reptilian angst, and I was juggling a glass jar of milk in one hand, a carton of eggs in the other, and a bag of apples in my teeth.
I set my stuff down and drew in a deep breath, knowing the contraction would pass in just a moment. Then I could pay for my groceries and get the heck out of Dodge.
Of course, it was at that moment that the checker (who had previously ignored my presence altogether) decided to glance at me.
Checker: (loudly, to no-one in particular) Oh my god, she’s going into labor!
Me: (still trying to breathe) No, I’m not.
Checker: Yes you are, you’re going into labor!
Me: No, I’m not.
SweetZ: Mommy? Is the baby hurting you?
Me: (patting her head while directing mean thoughts to the cashier) No, honey, I’m fine.
At this point the pain begins to taper off, and I quickly resume putting groceries on the conveyor belt.
Checker: (distrustfully) You’re sure you’re not going into labor?
Me: (irritated) Nope. Not going into labor.
Checker: ‘Cause you know I’m not delivering your baby.
Me: (to self) No shit? (to her, firmly) I’m not going into labor.
Checker: (after a brief moment of beautiful silence) I took a human sexuality class once.
Me: (to self) Oh, lord. (to her) Really?
Checker: (stops checking groceries) Yeah. In college. I hated it.
Me: (to her) Oh. (to self) Why has she stopped ringing up my groceries? What’s SweetZ doing? (look around and spy SweetZ raiding the candy display)
Checker: Yeah. It was my first class of the day. I hated it. It killed sex for me. It’s why I never had any kids. The whole thing was disgusting.
Me: (pulling four suckers, five candy bars, and two packages of gum out of SweetZ’s hands and putting them back in the display) That’s too bad.
Checker: (eyeing my belly distastefully) Not really. (resumes ringing up my groceries)
At this point, the guy bagging my groceries decides to chime in.
Bagger: I took a human sexuality class in college, too.
Bagger: Yeah. I loved it.
Me: (to self, digging through wallet, pretending to look for debit card) Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up.
Bagger: I took a human sexuality class in college, too.
Me: (to self) Why is he repeating that? (looks up)
Bagger: (is staring me down) I took a human sexuality class in college, too.
Me: (nodding slightly) Cool. (to self) Why? Why, why, why??
Bagger: I loved it. You want your juice in a sack?
Me: (timidly, hoping I’m not about to agree to some weird double-innuendo sexual favor; I really just want SweetZ’s apple juice in a sack) Yes, please.
Checker: I hated it. Disgusting. (looks at my bag of parsley) Is this cilantro?
Me: No. It’s parsley.
Checker: Parsley? (for some reason this seems to annoy her. She looks at my belly once more, eyeing it like it’s a homemade explosive about ready to go off) You’re sure you’re not in labor?
Me: (exasperated sigh) Nope. Not in labor.
Needless to say, when the bagger asked if I needed help out, I declined. That had to be one of THE MOST uncomfortable grocery store conversations I’ve ever had. Ever.
Okay, so it’s time for you to dish and make me feel better. I want to hear your awkward grocery store moments, pre-natal or not. Bad attempts at flirting in the produce aisle? Shelf stock-boy stalking? Devil children roaming the store unattended? If you have a memorable grocery store moment, this is the place to share!