Recently I found myself pregnant. While not being unemployed, or without a stable relationship (although these are not pre-requisites for a successful parent), I was still shocked at the ‘predicament’ I found myself in.
This is how I have always considered pregnancy: a predicament – a shock to the system – of life-altering proportions that for me have not always had positive connotations attached. As I have neared my 30s I have been lucky enough to consider child-bearing as an option; one I could opt in or out of and my husband, and I were probably about a week away from opting out. Do not get me wrong, I am unwaveringly grateful to be pregnant and I am aware of the hardship, struggle and heartbreak that surrounds many women’s pregnancy journeys. But! I had found my feet in my career, my body was reaching a point where I felt happy and confident, and we were just relishing the freedom of a dual income and the time attached to this.
Then BAM! The digital display read ‘one to two’ weeks pregnant and the hardest part so far has been trying to meet other people’s expectations about my happiness levels in reaction to the news.
According to my beautiful, well-meaning and supportive friends and family, a new child is an amazing gift and I should be immediately and instinctively excited. But I am not. Being a person of honesty and directness I have expressed my genuine feelings when asked, that I am not excited ‘yet’, that I am unsure of how I feel and that I am wanting to be in the moment of just this week without looking too far ahead.
I feel that people are rushing, pressing to know about names, epidurals, cots, and baby-showers before I have even considered that at week six baby is the size of a sweet pea.
The only thing worse than dealing with the changes was the extra layer of guilt when people asked, "But aren’t you just a little bit excited?" or awfully, “Are you sure you are doing the right thing, if you aren’t feeling some excitement?”
Actually, 'friend’, I am entitled to feel shock, awe, trepidation, resentment and dread at the prospect of my whole life shifting. My goal as a woman has not been to reproduce and part of me is envious of women who have had that unwavering knowledge of what their path will entail. Be it reproduction, career goals, or a need to conquer Mount Everest - I am just not one of those women who knows what they want so resolutely.
It should be okay for women to feel however they feel in reaction to such a life-altering event.
We need to challenge the myth that because I am a woman I am naturally maternal and therefore should instantly feel a connection to this growing life.