Monday, December 20, 2010

Stranger Danger ...

After our first NICU follow-up at UNC two weeks ago, it was deemed that Beatrice Kate is healthy enough for some of our quarantine restrictions to be "eased". For instance, we can now go out in public occasionally. Of course, we can't allow people to touch her; but a trip out to the grocery store once-in-a-while shouldn't cause any issues.

So last Wednesday, I had a few coupons and Register Rewards to burn at Walgreens and thought it may make for the perfect outing. I mean, it was the middle of the week, the middle of the day... there couldn't be that many people in the store.

As it turns out- I was both right and I was way, way wrong.

Initially, I thought we were in the clear. There were about 5 people in the store when we got there. I started browsing the aisles, flipping through my coupon notebook and talking to Beatrice Kate the entire way; who was tucked into her car seat under a blanket and "Do not touch my baby" signs obviously displayed. A few older people stopped and smiled at her. I expected as much, I mean... she is pretty darn cute. I don't mind smiles. In fact, I welcome them. But, as the signs clearly said, please don't touch.

I'm used to heading people off and preventing them from infesting touching Beatrice Kate. I can usually spot it before the offender moves in. Occasionally, however, I'm blindsided by freaks. This was the case at Walgreens.

It started off innocently enough. An older lady, maybe in her mid-60s, approached us in the toothpaste section. I saw her coming and tried to straighten Bea's signs in anticipation, in case the lady got handsy. Here's a little play-by-play of the encounter:

Old Lady (OL): Oh, your baby is so cute. How old is he? Leans in for the grab on Bea's foot...
Me: Pulling Bea's pink blankets up over her face in a failed attempt to discourage touching. Actually, she's a girl and she's nine months old.
OL: Wow, nine months? He sure looks small for nine months. Is he healthy?
Me: Yes, she's very healthy. She was just born prematurely.
OL: Oh. a few moment pass and I turn back to the toothpaste thinking this lady would take the hint.
OL: So, what's his name?
Me: Her name is Beatrice Kate.
OL: What? Bea...Beatr... That's a weird name. I'm sure you have a nickname for her right? You can't possibly actually call her all that, do you?
Me: Actually, yes we do. It's her name and I named her that for a reason. She is named after my great-grandmother and my mother. I picked it just for her.
OL: Well, you better start calling her by a nickname soon. Once she goes to school, there's not a teacher on the planet who would spend the time saying all of that.
Me: Turning to walk away. Right. Well, thanks for that. We need to get going.
OL: Trust me. You'll remember me someday when that happens. That's too long of a name.

Me: Trying to will Beatrice Kate to start crying so we can leave immediately. OK. Well, nice talking to you.

Then, she says something that I still cannot believe came out of another human's mouth (aside from my OB/GYN):

OL: So, did you deliver her vaginally or by a C-section?

And just like in the movies, I swear I heard a record scratch to a stop and crickets started chirping.

Me: Um. What? She was born prematurely by an emergency C-Section. We really need to leave. See you later, lady.

And I got the hell out of there. Stat.

I tell you about this Twilight-zone encounter because it brings up the question- Why do strangers feel the need to offer advice or ask very personal questions?   This isn't the first time we've been bombarded by crazy people and their antics. Casey and I both have a history of attracting weirdos when in public.

Almost every time we venture out in public with Beatrice Kate (which, granted, isn't a lot), someone says something borderline inappropriate. Usually, it's just harmless conversation- Why is she so small? Her name is weird. Why don't you use a stroller?

But, occasionally, I'll get something like the lady above. Something deeply personal that I wouldn't discuss with anyone but my close girlfriends, my husband, maybe my mother (because she's awfully nosy and would just annoy me until I caved).

The question that we get most often, after people find out that Beatrice Kate is our first baby is, "When are you going to have number two?" I don't know why, but this, above all else, irritates me so much. That's probably because I feel like it shouldn't be anyone else's concern when and if we're looking to expand our family. I especially hate it when, after I normally reply, "Well, she'll probably be the only one for us." the busy-body presses on to say, "Oh, I'm sure in a couple of years you'll be ready for number 2. Everyone always says they'll just have one and then they always change their minds."

This is when I usually have to restrain myself from shouting something obscene not polite.

Not that we owe anyone an explanation but...Beatrice Kate's birth was incredibly traumatic for us both. I'm still seeing a therapist for PTSD, still mourning the loss of my third trimester, still having panic attacks when I think back to the day that Bea was born. Additionally, we've been advised by our doctors that we should have a long, hard think about seriously thinking about adding to our family. You see, the type of pre-eclampsia that I had is very different than the kind that develops in someone who is 36 weeks pregnant. That kind can usually be prevented or, if it develops, can be "helped" until it's safe to deliver.

There were no 'warning signs' that I was going to deliver prematurely at 29 weeks (though, who knows that they'll deliver prematurely?). I didn't fall into any of the "high-risk" categories. I was a medical freak of nature and even more scary- because the doctors don't know why I developed it so early, they don't know if I will develop it again with subsequent pregnancies.

Thinking that there is even a small  (20%) chance that we could end up with another NICU graduate is enough to head off any future family planning.

At some point in the future, Casey and I plan to do a NICU aftershock post about the effects that having a premature baby have had on us and our marriage; both good and bad. In the mean time...

Crazy old people: I've got my eye on you and you've been put on notice. Keep those cheek-pinching, head-kissing, hand-grabbing, wrinkly little paws to yourselves!.


  1. I wish there was somewhere to post this that they would all see it...AARP magazine or something?? :) We also get the crazys, but thankfully don't have to worry so much with the touching, etc. I dunno if you saw, but there's a you tube video called "Mothers of Multiples are freaks of nature" that Nick put on his Facebook, it really sums up the inappropriateness of some people!! Miss you guys!! Hope to see you soon!

  2. Good grief! I hope you are enjoying your quick trips out.