The first time a stranger ever noticed I was pregnant, to my knowledge, was at The Disney Store at The Mall of Georgia.  I was in my second trimester of Kalen’s pregnancy.

I was wearing my go-to maternity top: a blue, patterned shirt with gathered elastic below the bust and the requisite string tied around the back.  Pregnant with my second child.  Jason, Nicolas and I were checking out, and the cashier asked me when I was due.

Believe it or not, my eyes filled.  When you’re plus-sized and well-endowed, you “show” later than other women.  For a long time, you just look fatter.  Clothing hangs from your chest, rather than your stomach, for months.  (Two-year-old Nicolas once told a woman at Michaels, “My mommy has a baby in her CHEST!” while pointing at my newly-enhanced cleavage.  Awkward!)

Thus, when you’re plus-sized and well-endowed and have your first baby at 28 weeks, chances are you can go your whole pregnancy with no one outside your friends and family asking your due date, asking to rub your tummy, or annoyingly rubbing it without asking.

So the poor Disney Store Girl asked and got more than she asked for.  A teary “August 3,” and I think, perhaps, a quick attempt at explaining my emotion.  I don’t remember.

I do remember savoring the feeling, the knowledge that I was pregnant enough that other people could tell.  It was one of many things I missed by not having a “complete” pregnancy the first time around.

While I always felt lucky and blessed that things turned out as well as they did with Nicolas’s birth, I also felt gypped.  Gypped of the happy, if painful, birthing experience.  Gypped of the glowing and planning and expectation that comes in the third trimester.  And, yes, even gypped of the annoying touches from intrusive strangers.  All the normal pregnancy things that every single one of my pregnant friends experienced.

Kalen was my second – and last – chance, and I went in knowing it was unlikely to be a typical pregnancy.  Of course, it wasn’t.  I was on partial bed rest by 30 weeks, and full bed rest shortly thereafter.  But, while I never did have to put up with a stranger reaching out for my belly, I did at least get pregnant enough that people – strangers – knew it.

And I basked in it, because by then I knew what a gift the knowing was.

small cycle