At the beginning of April, I received the shock of my life when the pregnancy test I bought from the local store tested positive. I ended up taking four more tests that same week to be sure. It seemed the birth control I took had failed me. Was I surprised? Definitely. Unhappy? Not really. I couldn’t believe there was a baby the size of a poppy seed growing inside of me. A child that was half of me. It was love at first knowledge.
Several months before becoming pregnant, I had moved back home after four years of living abroad. COVID-19 had brought my international adventures to a quick halt. To say that I was unprepared for this baby would be an understatement. I didn’t have a job or a car and I had to stay with my parents since the only apartment I had was back in China. Not to mention that I had just finished spending a chunk of my savings on a month-long backpacking trip through Europe.
In the following months, I slowly put my life together piece-by-piece. After a couple of misfits, I found a business job that suited me and allowed me to work from home. I took some of my savings and purchased a used car and finally moved into my father’s second home, since it was unoccupied. Slowly, I made internal changes to the house to make it feel like a home. I hired people to paint the walls and to install new carpets. I purchased new furniture to create a warm cozy atmosphere. I decorated the baby’s nursery so that she could have a place to grow (by this point, I knew I was having a girl).
In all that I had accomplished in a few short months, there was always a dark cloud hovering over me, and that dark cloud was my daughter’s father. Once a month like clockwork, he would call or text me to apologize for how he acted the previous month, only to message me a few days later starting a new fight again. The lowest blow was when I was just three months pregnant and he texted to tell me that he had a new girlfriend who was wonderful and was all the things that I was not. I couldn’t understand it. If he didn’t want to be a part of this, then why couldn’t he just leave me alone? Why did he put so much effort into trying to hurt me?
Time and time again, I have heard so much negative stigma about women who date while being pregnant. This was often viewed as “tacky” and “wrong,” when really the only thing that is wrong with this is the double standard. Why should women who are pregnant be expected to sit at home for nine months, reading baby books and decorating nurseries while so many fathers shrug off the responsibilities? Unlike some men, we don’t have the option to walk away because we are stuck with our bodies.
To say that this experience has been difficult would be an understatement. There’s nothing lonelier than not having a partner there to share such a beautiful experience with. Usually it is the man who holds the woman’s hair while she is hunched over the toilet due to morning sickness or rubs her back when she’s hurting from the weight gain. Usually there is a partner there to attend the ultrasounds and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. This is usually the case, but not always.
I realized that similar to a lot of my travel experiences, this was a journey that I had to take alone. When I became seven months pregnant, I came across Facebook dating, which I didn’t even know was a thing. I was going into this experience without any expectations except to perhaps meet new people. I ended up having great conversations with different guys about travel, common hobbies, and the craziness that was happening in the world.
In the first three days that I was on the site, I was asked out by four guys, but there was only one whose offer that I took up. I knew I had to be honest from the start, so I told him my circumstances. A couple weeks later, we finally met. Although it ended in friendship, I was grateful for the experience and the opportunity to meet somebody new.
There are many benefits that come with dating, and this is something pregnant women should not be deprived or ashamed of. Of course there is the potential for a new relationship, but there is also the opportunity to meet new people and have exciting conversations. Dating while being pregnant is not equivalent to a mother who is not thinking of her child. A woman can love her unborn child and still want a romantic and explorative life of her own. It is your life, your nine months of pregnancy and your choice to have any experience that you want.