This is going to make me sound terribly selfish but the truth is simple: the best thing about being pregnant, so far, is how I'm treated by strangers.
I have only recently stumbled across this latest advantage to pregnancy, and it is in direct proportion to the size of my belly. The more pregnant I appear, the more people stumble over themselves to be kind to me. It is absolutely fascinating to observe just how much I can get away with.
At first, I dreaded the appearance of the "baby bump" - an irritating phrase, I know. I avoided maternity clothing in favour of loose tunics, dresses with empire waists and roomy cardigans that helped in hiding the evidence. I perfected a certain way of carrying my handbag so that it sat casually against my stomach, hiding bulges just so.
Sneaky manoeuvres, however, can only go so far. Two weeks ago, the "bump" took on a life of its own. It might start off fairly inconspicuous in the early morning, but give it a few hours and one or two meals and its presence could no longer be denied. I was obviously pregnant, I was shopping in maternity stores and I was walking around with my hand subconsciously placed on the small of my back. I had perfected the pregnancy pose.
Far from my growing size becoming yet another inconvenience of the pregnancy, it instead presented endless opportunities to take advantage of people's kindness. Strangers smiled at me as I crossed them on the street. In the subway on a recent trip to Toronto, I was always offered a seat during rush hour. Waiting in line became a little game for Mr T and I; we'd bet how many seconds it would take for someone to insist that we cut ahead of them, and it never took more than 15 seconds at most - just as long as the "bump" was put prominently on display.
I was enjoying all the attention; as long as no wayward hand dared to touch the "bump", then this was all fine by me. Being offered a chair in a shop while my husband browsed the racks, or finding out that our peppermint tea at the end of a long meal was "compliments of the house", as our kind waiter put it, are definitely highlights of a pregnant woman's day (it doesn't take much).
For my husband, the realisation that my "bump" had the power to, if not open closed doors, at least push them ajar, had him very excited to see just how far we can go with this. Suddenly, Mr T was informing the most random of strangers that "we're pregnant" or "we're expecting". His proclamation got us prime seats on the airplane ride back to Abu Dhabi, prompted the air stewardess to hunt around for salt crackers to ward off my nausea, and kept me in a steady supply of cool water bottles from yet another air stewardess, who insisted I keep myself hydrated.
Now, when I wear anything that does not display the "bump" to its full potential, Mr T frowns.
"That top is too loose," he tells me. "You don't look pregnant enough. We're gonna end up waiting in line like everyone else."