Everyone’s experience with pregnancy is different, and telling people can be exciting, or it should be. I’ve discovered a disturbing trend within my age group. Allow me to set the stage, I’m 27 years old, employed, and as far I know I’m not a complete idiot. This is my first pregnancy, and the I am one of only a few of my friends to have children. My social group? We’re nerds. Unapologetic Star Trek-loving, Firefly-watching, cried at the end of Final Fantasy 7 type of nerds.
I don’t know why I was so unprepared for the backlash, but I wasn’t. While most of my closest friends were ecstatic for me, a cluster of people reacted much differently. Although they weren’t outwardly negative, the overwhelming feeling was one of total aversion, as if they had no way to process this information. Shock, confusion, and also a feeling of… sympathy, perhaps? It was like I had told people I had nine months to live, “Oh wow… when did you find out? …Wow… that’s… I couldn’t even imagine.” In a word, the entire reaction can be summed up in one word: defeat. No one wants to be the first person in their graduating class to get pregnant. And sex education has ingrained in us from an early age that the worst thing you could catch from a boy is a pregnancy. The overwhelming message is that once you have a baby, it’s game over. But high school was eight years ago, and yet this stigma has stuck with us into adulthood. Women’s internalized sexism is also to blame for some of our aversion to pregnancy. When society tells you that you must stay young and thin, no wonder no one wants to grow up and gain weight.
Along with getting the sex scared out of us in school, and our phobia of weight gain, there seems to be a consensus that adolescence is stretching further into what was previously considered adult territory. We are thinking of ourselves as “kids” for way longer. What has developed is like a perpetual Neverland, where people in their 20’s are postponing starting families until their 30’s. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But as a fairly* well-adjusted adult with a stable job and a supportive partner in my life, I just don’t see why everyone my age is giving me the stink eye. My pregnancy does not invalidate your life choice. I’m not judging you because you don’t want kids. Although, I personally think a lot of the people who have the self-awareness to realize they wouldn’t be the best parents would usually make better parents than the people who never considered it for a moment. And if me being pregnant makes you worry that we’re all getting old, here’s a news flash: we are.
(*) What? I said “fairly”.
by Magdalen O’Reilly
Go to: To Mom or Not To Mom: Part 1