When I got married and kissed my dating life goodbye, I believed that I would never have to worry about stalkers again. I'm not referring to the totally psycho, "Fatal Attraction" bunny boilers that some unlucky women (and men) have had the misfortune of filing a restraining order against. Rather I'm referring to your more harmless yet still annoying, garden-variety stalker who drives by your house constantly to see if you're home, calls relentlessly, conveniently happens to show up wherever you're going to be, hides in the bushes and just kind of creepily hangs around hoping that this pathetic behavior will ignite some kind of emotion other than fear and loathing. Like many women, I can pull out quite a few stalker stories from my own arsenal of dating horror stories with the resigned air of the battle-scarred survivor who acknowledges this as the unpleasant yet sometimes inevitable side effect of single life. But I never dreamed it would be a part of my pregnant life.
Now that I'm about to drop this prenatal load any minute now, the stalking has begun. Next to playing Pregnancy Police, I can't think of a more annoyingly popular pastime than becoming a Pregnancy Stalker. Seemingly stable friends and family members call me and e-mail me with almost the same urgent frequency rivaling any spurned, foaming-at-the-mouth, ex-whatever. And no self-respecting stalker ever comes right out and states their true purpose for calling. Oh no, there's usually some ridiculously transparent pretense or lame reason. Along those lines, my loved ones are way too savvy to blurt out, "Have you had the baby yet?" They leave messages like, "Oh, I'm just checking in on you, wondering how you're feeling." This is code for, "You'd better not have had that baby without telling me or else I'll never speak to you again."
In my heart, I know that my friends genuinely do care about me and are very excited about the impending birth. But this "checking up" also comes from a place of paranoia and insecurity. A deep-seated fear that maybe -- just maybe -- they have somehow been left out of the information loop. Everyone wants to be reassured of their place in the social pecking order and insists on getting a call as soon as the baby emerges piping hot from the oven.
Talk about a watched pot never boiling. No wonder I haven't gone into labor yet. My due date isn't until the 18th, yet every day that passes confirms my greatest fear, that yes, I will be pregnant forever. And every inquiring phone call just rubs salt into this wound as I have to bitterly report that other than the same old backache, the intermittent contractions and pelvic pains, my baby seems content to keep on baking until he reaches puberty. And for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I've wished for diarrhea and bloody mucous. As icky as it sounds, at least it means impending labor.
Even my formerly laid-back husband Teddy has now insisted on keeping tabs on my whereabouts at all times. I went for a not-so-brisk, 3-mile walk the other day, hoping against hope that I would get some labor action started. I was gone for maybe an hour and when I got back, Teddy was a bundle of worry. He wanted to know why I was gone for so long, where I was, and why wasn't I carrying my cell phone with me. He imagined all sorts of gloom and doom scenarios of me going into labor on the sidewalk somewhere all by myself.
I am truly baffled by this behavior. First of all, even though cats and dogs have been known to crawl under the house or into the bushes to give birth secretly, that isn't going to happen with me. When this baby finally comes, I will shout it out to the world. I am sure that since I'll be delirious with pain, fatigue and hopefully some good narcotics, I'll be under the grand delusion that everybody I know will be riveted to the news of my baby's birth. But until then, for the thousandth time here's the latest update, "Yes, I am still pregnant! And yes, when and if the baby comes, I will notify you!"