Here’s something I’ve realized about being pregnant: people talk to you more. Now, I live in the South, where people talk to you a lot anyway, but I’ve noticed in the last couple of months that the occurrences of total strangers striking up conversations with me has definitely increased. In fact, I think there’s probably a ratio involved, like the bigger my belly gets, the more folks want to talk to me about the baby. Every conversation pretty much comes down to three questions: when my baby’s due, if I know what I’m having, and what names I’m considering. I think I’m kind of a disappointment, pregnant lady wise, because I usually only answer the first one, and say I’m due in September, and then sidestep the others. I do know the sex of the baby, but I’m trying to keep it a surprise as much as possible, and as far as names, I was warned by ALL my friends not to share the ones you’re considering because people will always say they don’t like them, or knew someone horrible with that name, or whatever. Weirdly enough, not giving up this information doesn’t seem to affect people that much: they just suggest names anyway, which then puts ME in the weird position of having to smile and nod, even when they say something I would never name my baby in a million years.
The truth is, the name thing IS hard. As an author, I’m used to naming my characters, and usually I have a couple I’m considering and then BOOM, I just know that yes, that’s the one. I am still waiting for that to happen with the baby, although I have this terrible fear that we’ll be in the hospital, about to be discharged, and still not have one, so I’ll panic and name it something I don’t like, then regret it forever. (I realize how ludicrous that sounds, but this is my pregnant brain, no logic, all drama.) There’s also the issue that I’m used to having total control over what I name my characters, especially my narrators, and now I have to accept input from my husband, who didn’t like ANY of my initial ideas. So now we’re down to a master list of about five, and I’m hoping one of them will just seem perfect when the time is right. Or maybe I’ll have a whole new one just appear at the last minute, BOOM!, that I never even considered. I’m told that happens more than you think, actually.
All that name talk from strangers is at least better than what often happens AFTER the three questions: the unsolicited sharing of the Horrible Birth Story. Yesterday, at the grocery store, the cashier told me she was in labor for 37 hours, it was awful, and then she had to get a C-section. I’ve also been told about pre-eclampsia, horrendous, mind-altering pain that never stopped even WITH an epidural…it just goes on and on. I know people like to tell a story—I do it for a living—but please, can I just be spared this? I’m nervous enough. But maybe it’s the payback for wanting to keep the sex secret and names: the less you tell, the more you get told? Hmmm. I wonder….