Friday, November 30, 2007

Power of the Belly

I've heard a lot of pregnant women complain about people touching their belly and I must admit that I myself have marveled at the audacity at some people but I have to say that I feel differently now that I am here and it is happening. I think it's wonderful. After having traveled and lived in other countries around the world I have witnessed time and time again how socially isolated we are in North America. We are protective of our personal space to the point of compulsion and it always makes me feel a little sad. There was a part of me that loved standing shoulder to shoulder with someone on the bus in Korea, feeling the warmth of their body and knowing that the other person wasn't the least bit uncomfortable. I've seen people here calculate, methodically, how to best separate themselves from the other passengers on a train or a bus. Why? What have we gained by having no contact with strangers, no human intersections beyond those we seek out?

A pregnant belly breaks through all those barriers and social rules and penetrates the invisible social bubble that we all live under. The idea that the baby is coming into a world where complete strangers want to look at it and touch it and care for it brings me comfort because that's exactly how it should be. Babies should be welcomed into a community that extends beyond their immediate family and loved and cared for by the village, so to speak.

When people, even strangers, touch my tummy it feels nice. Their hand is warm and they are almost always smiling...waiting to feel her move. And when they do they are excited and happy and I feel like I'm a part of something bigger. I find it amazing that babies and more specifically, the baby in my tummy, has the incredibly powerful ability to break down social barriers, make friends out of strangers and connect people in time who otherwise would have walked right past each other.

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