Since I found out I was pregnant, there has a been a constant battle between my feminism and my pending motherhood. I have wanted to be a parent for some time now but infertility had stood in our way. I had resolved to the fact that I may never have a child and decided that my activism, education and love of my partner were enough for me. This is not to say that I didn't still long for a child, but that I didn't feel incomplete without one. I felt my life had purpose and meaning already and I was quite content.
Just before my final semester of college, I found out I was pregnant. I was thrilled and so was my partner, O'Neil. We were both taken by surprise but this was only the beginning of the surprises for me. O'Neil already has a daughter from his previous marriage. This is my first pregnancy. I was terribly sick in the first trimester and felt I had lost control of my body. This was the first test of my feminist beliefs and it would eventually change my outlook on both feminism and motherhood. I am an extremely independent person. Morning sickness forced me to have to rely on others. I couldn't cook for myself and often I just couldn't get my body to do what I wanted it to. I had indeed lost control. I felt guilty at the twinges of resentment I was starting to feel toward my child. I battled with feeling like a bad mother because I hated what this pregnancy was doing to me. I had to examine my feelings and try to make sense of them.
It took a lot of reflection to come to the conclusion that I wasn't wrong for hating the effects pregnancy had on my body. I also took to affectionately calling my growing embryo a leech or parasite and described the early months of pregnancy as having a stomach bug that lasted 10 weeks. I stopped feeling guilty for being miserable. I realized that being a parent, but particularly being a mother, meant that there were sacrifices and struggles that came with it. The biggest and most important realization that came after that was that I didn't have to like it and that I wasn't wrong to complain about it.
Every part of my life has been a struggle and although I hated parts of that struggle, it has made me who I am and I don't regret having to struggle. Struggling has made me appreciate everything more. So, while pregnancy is a great struggle, a struggle I do not particularly like, it does not reflect on how I feel about the child resulting from it.
This realization came in part by my examination of the societal influences on women's views of motherhood. We are taught that if we do not love and enjoy all parts of motherhood that we are in turn "bad" mothers. I had to confront these feelings within myself, and very often with those around me, that made me feel as if my disgust with the ill effects of pregnancy made me a "bad" mother. I decided that my ability to be a good mother was not incumbent upon my being a masochist. I don't have to enjoy and love the pangs pregnancy to enjoy and love my child, nor do I have to grin and bear it just because society makes us believe that to complain about the negatives of motherhood means that we are less than adequate parents.
While I have resolved this issue within myself, it is still a challenge with those I encounter outside my exclusive circle of feminist friends. My partner, although light years ahead of many men, still responds to my pregnancy complaints with "well, you're pregnant" as if that is supposed to erase the aching back, random vomiting, stretching and pulling, hemorrhoids and the many other discomforts of pregnancy. Or, now that I'm further along, when I'm waiting on a table and the baby kicks me in the bladder and a woman at the table looks at me as if my briefly contorted face was a direct insult to my child.
Oh, and let's not forget those that have questioned my desire to finish my last semester at college and to continue working as long as I possibly can. People actually tell me I won't make it. The best is when I tell people that I want a drug-free birth and they insist I'll be screaming for drugs by the time I'm in labor. Ah and there is my insistence on none of my shower gifts coming from Walmart or that nothing be pink. "Well then what do you want me to get her blue?" Yes, because pink and blue are the only two colors in the spectrum. Oh but these last for are topics for future posts. With all this outrage, can't you see the need for a blog?