Though Sea and I live in a city, we’ve been realizing more and more how much our neighborhood functions like a small town.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant, we told our closest neighbours that we were having a baby. Within a couple of weeks, other neighbors– people we had never spoken to– were congratulating us and fishing for details. I went from being able to count on one hand the number of people on our street that I knew by name to recognizing people from halfway down the block. And each person seems to come with their own set of invasive assumptions or questions.
There was the neighbor who chastized Sea for mowing the lawn, assuming that she was pregnant. A couple of neighbors have asked about our birth plan and told us about their birth experiences (often as their wide-eyed children looked on). Last week the older woman who lives a few houses down instructed us to have the baby on her birthday (we didn’t). So it was no surprise today when another neighbor stopped us as we walked home with the words, “Can I ask you something personal?”
Based on the questions that we get asked most commonly, we assumed that she would follow this with “Boy or girl?”, “How did you do it?”, “Known or unknown donor?”, or “Birth plan?” Instead, she asked, “Are you both planning on breastfeeding?”
Well, neighbor whose name I didn’t know until about a month ago, who I’ve only spoken to a handful of time, whose previous interactions with me consisted of “Hello!” and “Good morning!”, that is quite a personal question. Too surprised to be coy or clever, Sea simply answered “Uh, no.” We then stood awkwardly, shifting from foot to foot in synchrony, as the neighbor told us about her breastfeeding experiences.
They say good fences make good neighbors. Clearly we need a taller one.