Smiles from strangers

Now that I look like I could give birth any second, people are really nice to me.

They open doors. They let me go first in line. They give me free food.

All of that is nice, but it's the smiles I like most.

Everywhere I go — the grocery store, park, gym — complete strangers light up when they see me walking toward them. When you look like you've swallowed a basketball, people can't help but notice.

At first I wasn't used to all the attention from complete strangers. Then I got really good at answering the three questions everyone loves to ask:

1. "Do you know what you're having?"

Usually before I can finish saying, "A girl," I'm interrupted by the sound of the stranger swooning over the sweetness of little girls.

I'd like to take this opportunity to let the general public in on a secret: Little boys are sweet too.

2. "Do you have a name picked out?"

People really want an answer to this one, for reasons I can't quite figure out. Maybe they just want to be properly introduced to the fetus.

Whatever their reasoning, I universally disappoint them when I say, "No, I'm going to decide after she's born."

I sometimes mention that I have a top-secret list of names, but that just stokes their curiosity further and they usually won't let me get away without divulging a few of the gems. In cases such as these, I've been tempted to throw out a name that I would never, ever consider — Mildred comes to mind — but I haven't worked up the courage yet.

3. "When are you due?"

This question has come increasingly up in my third trimester, as I look more and more like I'm about to pop.

"October 3," I say.

"Oh, October," the stranger says. "That's a good month. A good month to have a baby."

I can't say I really understand this answer either, but I go with it. "Yes," I say, "I love the fall."

It's just easier not to mention that it's equally as likely she'll be born at the end of September. I asked my doctor if there's any way to predict whether my daughter will be born early or late.

"I could get out my crystal ball," she said.

All joking aside, I have to admit, all of the attention from strangers has grown on me.

It's shown me that, deep down, everyone has some speck of kindness. There's something about walking around with a baby in your belly that warms people's hearts.

Maybe it's because it's the way we all started out in this world.

The other day a stranger told me that having a baby is "the best thing in life." He was male, so I'm thinking he defines "having a baby" loosely, but nevertheless it was a nice comment.

Since I haven't given birth yet, I can't say whether it's the best thing in life. But do you want to know what I think the best thing in life is so far?


Not everyone will walk around with a basketball belly for nine months. But everyone deserves kindness. Every stranger could use a smile.

Hannah Guzik is taking a maternity leave from reporting and writing this column. Contact her at

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