I'm a few calendar pages past the start of the third trimester, and I've heard it countless times: "When will you be posting a photo of your bump on Facebook?!"
As much as I hate to disappoint remote family and friends, you won't catch me posting any weekly arms-length, head-cut-off, bump shots.
For the same reason that I wouldn't post a photo of my ear, or my foot, or my eyeball.
Because those are just pieces of me. The bump? It's just a piece of me. A piece of who I am, a piece of who I'm becoming. That's all. Just a piece.
I'm still a full, complete human being, just one with a baby growing and kicking and peeing in her uterus.
I'm still the biggest personality in my body.
I like to believe I'm still a force at work.
I like to believe I'm still a funny, frank friend.
I like to believe I'm still a loving, kick-ass wife.
And while those photos exist -- my husband takes one now and then -- they're our private record, entries in a diary of a burgeoning family. They're not for public consumption, liking or commenting; they're our story, the complicated (but so simple) story of a wife, a woman, a marriage, a family.
The only photos of me you'll see on Facebook are ones where the bump is a supporting character, not the protagonist. If I happen to be doing something joyfully worth photographing and the bump's along for the ride? Sure. A bump photo for the sake of a bump photo? Nope!
There's something else going on, too -- something I realized when my yoga instructor gently suggested I give up my regular sessions and look for a prenatal class. "You'll meet more women in your situation, make friends," she explained. I shrugged, a little hurt and left class knowing I would ignore her advice. I'm not interested in making pregnant friends. I have lots of currently pregnant friends, lots of new mom friends, and lots of couldn't-care-less-about-kids friends that I'd rather continue to surround myself with.
That's nothing against pregnant women (I'm sure you're all very nice), but to be surrounded by a class full of them inevitably invites comparison -- how far along are you, how tiny is she, how huge am I?
I'm not interested in the comparisons. And a photo inevitably invites comparison, doesn't it? Nothing more so than a bump. That bump everybody wants to see.
In fact, it seems to me that sharing pictures of my bump would be like throwing my first gauntlet into the Mommy Wars, inviting never-ending comparisons...
Carrying high or low? Breastfed or formula fed? Gaining a lot or a little? Disposable or cloth diapers? Big for the third trimester or little? Co-sleeping or cry it out?
While I'm sure I'll come down on one side of those issues eventually, I'm not going to fall into that trap now. Not yet. I want to enjoy the fact that I'm still me, and the me-ness of my pregnancy is happening only for three key players -- me, my husband, and our unborn baby. A photo of a single part of me can't possibly tell all those stories.
Of course, not so long ago, I messed up. I posted a photo to Facebook. It's the only photo of me you'll find online from the past seven months, and it's the only photo that hints at my pregnancy. That's all, it just hints.
In it, I'm at Nationals Park, giving the stink eye to the image of relief pitcher Tyler Clippard on the Jumbotron as he entered the game at the top of the ninth against the Atlanta Braves. (I was afraid he might be about to blow another game; luckily, he didn't.)
That photo is about way more than a bump, which is only visible in one-tenth of the bottom of the frame anyway.
It's about my sarcastic feelings toward a professional baseball player who doesn't seem to be very good at his job.
It's about my joy over being invited to the game by a good friend who wanted to share amazing seats (behind the dugout!).
And it's about my weird, sudden, and seemingly pregnancy-induced interest in baseball.
It's about a bunch of things that make me, me.
And then... the reaction to the photo was inversely proportional to how interesting it was.
Nobody said anything about baseball, or Tyler Clippard; I'd guess maybe two people (my husband and another friend), realized the true context. The rest of the reactions centered on the bump, the bump, the bump -- which, like I said, is visible just in the tiniest one-tenth of the frame, attention drawn to it by the hand I often forgetfully rest on top of it.
What I saw as a photo of me on a fun night, everyone else saw as finally, a photo of her bump. Even though it's barely visible.
And while I should have realized everyone would see what they have been wanting to see -- and while I certainly can't fault anyone for their reactions (all of which were sweet, loving, and complimentary) -- I can't help but feel a little bit disappointed that everyone focused on one-tenth of the picture, and not the whole story.