Thought Catalog

Pregnancy Manifesto Or Whatever

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At the fresh, nubile stage of 17 weeks knocked up, here’s what I know about pregnancy and Facebook: people expect you to announce that your womb is occupado, get your 87 Likes and ‘OMG Congratz!!!!’ comments; then sit down, shut up, quietly grow a human being, and don’t mention it again until it pops out. Any further commentary is considered obnoxious, intrusive, boring, and will inevitably elicit comments from your friends about how you’re turning into one of “those” moms who spew endless nonsense about their pregnancy/kids on social media.

(Let me say, for the most part, I’m onboard with this. There’s nothing I hate more than “Facebook Moms.” In fact, I hate moms on the internet as a whole. In fact in fact, I hate most moms in general but that’s like, so another story. The point is, we don’t need to know about little Johnny’s bowel movements or how “F-ed up” it is that they didn’t get put in gifted classes when everyone totally knows they’re soooo scholastically advanced. We don’t give a crap. We don’t. Not at all.)

For some women, creating and raising a needy little human being is the goddamn pinnacle of existence. It’s all they ever wanted and they feel all “whole and happy” or whatever when they finally get sperminated. And hurray for them, seriously. My sappy fucking heart cries giant tears for my baby-hungry friends when they finally get a FetusFriend inside of them. That’s your pot of gold and I’m genuinely thrilled for you.

For others of us, we have slightly more complicated relationships with procreation. For some of us, we are an ever-bubbling hotbed of conflict between an acute awareness of our natural inclinations toward things like babies and motherhood, and all of our other ambitions. I mean, we’ve got lady parts, we’re built to do this birth thing, and as part of being smart, evolved, fully conscious women, we know better than to suppress those parts of ourselves. Our feminist foremothers, blesstheirhearts, thought we needed to stomp out our ovaries to call more attention to our brains. And GOD BLESS them for the strides they made. It’s because of them that we now enjoy the confidence to say “Hey, we don’t have to deny our inherent femininity, to masculinize ourselves in order to be on the level with men.” Thanks to the Gloria Steinems of yesteryear, we no longer need to emulate men just to not be seen as less than them. Enter the newest generation of women; trying to mix Bra Burning, Power Suits, and the Cult of Domesticity and it’s getting. freaking. messy.

So back to that conflict. There are the natural instincts as females that we no longer feel such a social compulsion to suppress, and then there are those “other ambitions.” By that, I mean… christ, all of it. The freedom to pursue whatever exciting, inspiring opportunity that comes into range; great jobs, traveling opportunities, late nights with friends, random summer flings, self-indulgence, and a million other possibilities that get the Ambitious Girl out of bed in the morning, even on the worst days. Make no mistake, there are inspiring mothers all over the place who still seem to take advantage of these opportunities, and the idea that you are “different, uniquely capable of having it all” is the fun lie that many first-time mothers tell themselves in order to embark upon motherhood without mourning the loss of this unfettered freedom. But let’s be honest: the minute you truly commit yourself to another human being, and that completely autonomous part of your life is closed, things change. And when you get pregnant, you realize that no boyfriend or husband or partner, no matter how committed to them you are/ were, was or is NEARLY as big of an attachment as this new person. You start to understand selflessness and obligation and true, unending commitment. For some of us, this is absolutely terrifying.

There are different ways to handle that terror. I guess some people do just become crappy mothers, brushing off their kids and continuing to live a life not too dissimilar from their pre-baby existence. I won’t speak too much to that, other than to say that it’s a fat, sad bummer, for the kid and the mom. But for the more conscious among us, being less than thrilled about losing a certain amount of freedom doesn’t equal a future as negligent parents (in fact, I would argue that having the self-awareness and respect for yourself to appreciate the live you have, and allow yourself to mourn the things you are giving up really just frees you up to move forward and appreciate the new things your gaining, and become excited about the new experiences you’ll have with less resentment for what you’re leaving behind. But maybe that’s just me. (It’s not; I’m totally right.))

The truth is, we wouldn’t be the badass women we are if we didn’t approach parenthood with the same ferociousness, dedication, love, etc., that we bring to all of our other pursuits. The assumption that women who have mixed feelings about motherhood will make bad mothers is this weird new kind of sexism that I didn’t know existed before. And largely, women are executing it against each other. It’s curious and sad. Wouldn’t it be preferable if we could all be honest that our generation of women is more complex in our expectations for our lives, and if we could be supportive of each other as we navigate the evolving reality of that, if we could be honest as we feel all the very many feelings that come with trying to “have it all”?

The trade-off, for many, is worth it. It’s why women have babies in the first place, even the highly motivated ones who are driven by their careers and creative/ social/ politics/ whatever-other interests. The ones who didn’t play a lot of “house” growing up, and dreamed of more than getting married and having babies. (Let me be clear that I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with those being your big goals. That was my mother’s biggest goal and I count my blessings everyday that a woman of her talent, intelligence and capability chose to apply all of that to shaping tiny humans, including me.) The ones for whom life would’ve been full and thrilling without kids too, and for whom the idea of being one of those boring moms who talks about her “wild youth” isn’t an option. It is no longer an either/ or situation for us. For ambitious, independent women, having kids can’t be about surrendering your life, as was sadly the case for many previous generations of women. Now, it’s about integrating motherhood into our lives, and recognizing that fulfilled, productive, happy, well-rounded and taken care of parents make for BETTER parents, and provide an infinitely better example for kids in terms of what their future can be like.

Having other ambitions besides breeding doesn’t make us monsters. And talking openly about our complex, complicated, frequently-changing and (duh) sometimes hormone-fueled feelings about motherhood and pregnancy does NOT make us unstable, ungrateful, or unfit as mothers. It’s honest. Furthermore, becoming mothers doesn’t nullify us as being anything else. I had unprotected sex, not a lobotomy.

I’m considerably younger (although I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not THAT young anymore) than my friends with kids. And of my un-childed women friends, most are a lot like me: busy with a million things that light up their hyper-motivated little hearts, devoted to experiencing and learning as much as possible, and having, like, feelings with the people they love. When the ones who choose to do so start having babies, I can only imagine that they will feel a lot of the things I’ve been feeling. I do hope they feel less ostracized for openly expressing those feelings. I hope that more women feel more comfortable talking about the not-so-Hallmark sentiments about becoming a mother, and I hope that the people around them will see that not as a mark of instability and unpreparedness, but as a sign of self-awareness and proactive processing of some seriously heavy stuff. It’s a major life change and, ya know, it can get #dark. I hope as my friends go through this, and all awesome, independent women (I’m not talking about the baby crazy, can’t-cum-unless-I-imagine-I’m-getting-fertilized women) everywhere go through this, that people will rally around them and applaud their honesty and outspokenness.

Pregnancy is beautiful and magical and makes you a glowing beacon of life… for some women. (I currently want to vomit on those women but for the sake of fairness, I’ll squeeze out a “good for you.”) For others of us, the first several months of pregnancy are achy, filled with migraines, fitful sleep, raging mood swings, and oh yeah, that “glow” is really just sweat from the four times we’ve thrown up today. And all of this while trying to process an unexpected distance from your kid-free friends, a complete restructuring of your life, the impending prospect of having horrible, primary-colored kid crap in your apartment, and a loss of autonomy to a degree that your friends with their rustic, twee outdoor weddings can’t possibly understand.

So that’s the deal. If you see me having a moment of frustration and expressing that on Facebook, hey, stuff happens. I assure you I’m not the only pregnant woman to think “Oh my christ, this fetus is the goddamn devil and I’m ruining my life and selling out by having it” only to be talking excitedly about baby names an hour later. We get to be scared. We get to be apprehensive. We weren’t waiting around for a baby to fill our lives because they were already full. We get to mourn the loss of our single lives because they were fabulous and we get to be excited about our future lives with babies because we are strong, adaptable people who will make those lives fabulous too. But the confidence isn’t unwavering. And the process isn’t easy, or consistent or flawless, and I am also hereby declaring that it will not be silent either. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

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    • Fer

      Hurray for you!! 

    • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

      I too hate moms!

    • Anonymous

      Awesome piece. Really :)

    • Amphx

      This was excellent! Babies are wayyyyyy far down the line for me, but even I, at the ripe old age of 18, still wonder sometimes if kids are in the cards for me, and what kind of mother I will be if they are. 

    • danielle

      the point you raise about embracing motherhood as both a gain and loss, both of self and of child, is imperative in finding the balance as a modern mother.  i was less than thrilled about being pregnant in the first place, and felt as if i was literally becoming a different person.  fifteen months later (a few breakdowns, for me and the child) i have the most amazing human being that i can call my creation, my baby… and i am still the same, still working the kinks of being a career woman, a mother, a girlfriend, and myself to the core.  i wouldn’t have been able to do this if i didn’t admit to myself that some of it kind of sucks, so thank you for reiterating.

    • http://zuungols.myminicity.com/ Teresa S.

      I love this, thank you. I’m a good decade older than you, I am guessing, and I am still ambivalent about having kids, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. Thank you for putting these ideas into such eloquent words.

    • Jess

      I can’t even explain how much this hit home from me. It’s something I think about a lot as I start to see my friends getting married and even having children. In my mind, I’m way too young to think about any of those things for myself, but then I realize that I can’t even imagine that kind of life being what I want in the appropriate 2-4 years time. I feel as though I’m losing my independence just by growing up…and how unfair does that seem? Because if we, as women, don’t succumb to the life of motherhood and marriage that is expected of us, we’re taught to feel that we are somehow breaking the rules or doing wrong. I’m not saying that one day I won’t want kids, but for now, the thought of losing my life the way I want to live it here and now is terrifying. 

    • Christina

      I really loved this. It sort of made clear a lot of the things I’ve been thinking for a while about balancing motherhood and career. I’m just graduating college and have thought a lot about the future in that regard so I think this really interesting and helpful, even though I’m completely terrified of having children. 

    • Jillian

      I never comment on anything online, ever (actually, I think this is my first time taking this step, ever, period – feels a little funny); but this was enlightening, beautiful and so, so so smart. I just needed to say something. I look up to you! Thanks. 

    • Julie S.

      First-time TC commenter here. I’m a 25 year old mom to a 10 month-old baby (married since 22) and this piece really resonated with me. I hate that I’m either an ambitionless, unintelligent posts-too-much-baby-fb-posts SAHM procreator or a heartless, selfish, shouldn’t-have-had-kids-if-you’re-not-going-to-raise-them careerbitch.

      It’s 2012, can’t I be something in between?

    • Maykious

      Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Hellscream Gold

      Reading your ranting….you shoulda thought about that before opening your legs and having sex.

      • Anonymous

        Oh right, I forgot about the “dirty whores get what they deserve” thing! I only got pregnant so i could spend 9 straight months with a penis inside me. 

      • bee

        And that papa should have thought about it before ejaculating inside her vag, no?
        It takes two to tango.

    • Anonymous

      I’m 32 – which I think is within the normally very acceptable time frame to have children, but I still feel much the same way. So far being a mom has meant that I’m constantly judged by my actions or maybe more accurately would be to  say what others consider as in-actions. Thanks so much for writing this.

    • ProudMommy

      Wow. This is exactly what I would imagine a blog from Casey Anthony would sound like. People who WANT to have kids and who don’t feel selfish or inconvenienced by them have just as much right to post it all over the internet just as this person does. I’m tired of people not realizing that there are just as many people out there who aren’t interested in your opinions as you are uninterested in theirs.

      • Anonymous

        You absolutely have the right to post your mushy kid thoughts all over the internet. And I have the right to roll my eyes and shit all over it. And vice versa. Which we’ve both just done! Look at us exercising our liberties! Fucking good stuff. Hope the kids are well, Ace. 

    • Shyla Stacer

      THANK YOU 1264567891213 times for writing this. My daughter is now 16 months and I went thru everything you described in this article. Cheers to making your new life adventure as fabulous as it was before. Best of luck to you.

    • Waicool

      thanks mom! your the best!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1340700283 Katherine Elizabeth

      Wow. Dopeness. 

    • Caleb Hildenbrandt

      This piece is great, and shows a far, far more balanced, well-rounded, considered look at mother/parenthood than I’m accustomed to reading on the internet.  Since most of your commenters are female, I’ll just throw in my two cents and say that, as a 23 year old who’s wife shakingly handed him a positive pregnancy test after a mere 6 months of marriage, so much of what you’ve said applies to men as well.  Not as strongly, perhaps, but these feelings of losing autonomy are fucking terrifying.  Thanks for a good read.

    • caitlin

      My god, please keep this TC pregnancy diary going. This was an amazing piece, and there are probably few young women out there who have not contemplated the possibility of an “in-between” state that we can exist in. I’m 23 and the pulls of having an ambitious and rewarding career, and of sprouting a creative little fairy child are equally strong. My greatest wish is that once I get to the point where I can “afford” (ha) to have a child, I will no longer want one. That’s my greatest wish. How sad is that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

      I actually liked this despite not liking your other piece about pregnancy. It’s understandable and poignant.

      Not a big fan of sassy comments to people commenting on your piece, though. Kind of lame.

    • Guest

      Good god, thank you for writing this out. I am glad I read this after reading your other post on pregnancy. Didn’t like that one, but this one is so well balanced that it makes me happy to read it. Ahh I am pretty far from having children but I really do dread the day I will actually pop them out. However, reading your blog told me that I can always feel like that as long as I am able to understand that my life will not come to an end once the children have been popped out. Thank you for telling me its okay to have negative feelings about birth and okay to be ecstatic about impending motherhood. Good job!

    • Sarah Bohannon

      As a young mom (I was 8 months pregnant on my 21st birthday, wooo!) I felt this. Like, I’m a former party girl who was simultaneously excited and terrified to have my daughter. Unfortunately I was watched like a hawk by my family and future mother-in-law, and any sign of anything less than enthusiasm was met with a “play with fire, don’t be surprised when you get burned!” comment, or something similar. So yes. I wish I’d had this manifesto when I was 17 weeks and wanted to express my conflicting emotions (emotions that are still conflicted!) about being responsible for a little person and also being myself.

    • Christinan06

      I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. As a 26 yr old mom to a 3 wk old… I was becoming a bit bored with thought catalog and with other things in life in general. Becoming a mom inevitably changes you, despite one’s best intentions for it not to. Prior to becoming pregnant I was the normal 20-something who liked to go out, have fun, drink, had ambitions and goals aside from parenting. However now it seems that I lost that identity and have to be in complete mom-mood. Why can’t we be somewhere in between? I really hope TC continues pieces like this.

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