Ponderings of a pregnant feminist
What happens when a feminist becomes pregnant? Does she hate her body? Does she wish she were a man? Does she wallow in misery? Not this feminist. Every change in my body is received with joy, even the (mild, yes I’m lucky) nausea is easy to get through with the thought that it is leading us to having our own child. The swelling belly is exciting, the growing out of my pants is exciting, the ultrasound: all very exciting. So what did happen when this feminist became pregnant? Well, I noticed some conspicuous social interactions that need to be criticized.
1. Pregnant in one try. We couldn’t be luckier, how many people actually get pregnant the very first month they try? We wanted it so much and there it was, the pregnancy test saying I’m pregnant. We didn’t tell many people that it was the first time we’d tried, but everyone we did tell reacted in the exact same say: Way to go Davey! they would say to my man. High-fives were exchanged. Congratulations were given… to him! But wait a minute? Why is he the one getting all the honour? Don’t get me wrong, I love it when my man gets compliments, he deserves all the praise he can get. But if he gets congratulated for something he didn’t really have a say in, why don’t I? Or better yet, why does anyone get compliments about this at all?
This reminds me of an article I read in my freshman year at the University of St. Catherine. The Passive Egg. In biology classes we all have in high school, the sperm is portrayed as a heroic victor. In these narratives, the egg doesn’t choose a suitor. Rather, the egg is the passive prize awarded to the victor. This epic of the heroic sperm struggling against the hostile uterus is the account of fertilization usually seen in contemporary introductory biology texts. I guess that explains the high-fiving of my partner. His sperm is seen as the hero, my egg is seen as a passive receiver.
2. Hush, you could still have a miscarriage…! The exciting and draining first three months of pregnancy are supposed to be carried out in relative solitude. Are you feeling more exhausted than you’ve ever felt before (like I did), nobody will know because you’re supposed to be keeping it a secret. But why? You don’t want to share your exciting news with too many people because you could still have a miscarriage.
But I wonder… What’s so shameful about having a miscarriage? Why should nobody be allowed to know you had one? Of course it can be difficult to give people bad news, but don’t we otherwise have to deal with giving bad news all the time? The fact that we aren’t supposed to talk about having a miscarriage is silencing people who might feel they need comfort by sharing their grief with people around them.
I’m out of the critical phase now. But what if I had had a miscarriage? Should I have felt ashamed? Should I have tried to keep it quiet? I any case, I didn’t want to keep it quiet for so long so I didn’t. If I had had a miscarriage I would have seized the opportunity to help others be open about it if that is the way they’d like to deal with their grief.
3. Why aren’t they talking to him? And why can’t they stop talking to me? Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people ask me questions about my pregnancy, but why aren’t people doing that with the father of my child? His male friends aren’t all too interested in having children any time soon and don’t really know which questions to ask. But my female friends also aren’t interested in having children any time soon and they do know which questions to ask. In fact, they ask them all the time. For the father of my child, besides the way to go, you did it, high-fives, the conversation stops. Expecting a child is something a mother mostly does alone. The father of her child is a mere sperm warrior, nothing else. Of course, the baby does grow in my uterus, but why shouldn’t this be an interesting topic for the father of the child to talk about? I want to break this and all the other unjust presumptions we have about pregnancy.
I’m almost 4 months pregnant now and I have the feeling that this is only the beginning…!