I always vowed to myself that when I got pregnant I wouldn’t talk about it on social media. I had big plans. I’d just drop in one day with a photo of Nick and I and a new baby and be like, “Oh we made a thing. K. Thx. Bye.” I knew I wouldn’t be the kind of woman that would glow and relish in the glory of the miracle growing inside me.
In case you didn’t realize. Welcome to my pregnancy announcement. My non-glowing, pregnancy announcement. Apparently women who don’t subscribe to the idea that pregnancy is mesmerizing and run around completely excited and unaffected by symptoms are seen as a bit messed up. I guess I’m messed up then because this has been far from a wonderful experience thus far.
Part of the reason I was always planning on never announcing it was because I can’t stand the obscene amount of patronizing and pushy unsolicited advice and comments. When you’re already someone who isn’t enjoying the process this kind of commentary makes it even less enjoyable. There are other factors that made me want to avoid the online announcement as well, including having an internet following that loves to weigh in on all your life and business decisions.
However, in the last few years I’ve been doing more and more social change and social justice work. I’ve realized keeping pregnancy quiet and the struggles with gender stereotyping and the incessant violations to bodily integrity is a disservice to the kind of work I do in my other business. We need to normalize pregnancy away from this glowing excitement and allow people to feel what they feel. Staying quiet in hopes of simply avoiding it, instead of addressing some of the problems around it doesn’t sit right with me anymore. Avoiding addressing these things doesn’t allow anyone in my circle of friends, family, or social media followers to learn about some of the violations experienced in this state of being.
Bodily integrity is at the core of so many social change issues today and I hope to use my voice as one of many experiences to help improve the quality of interactions and bodily integrity surrounding pregnancy. I consider all the things I’ve probably said to someone who is pregnant which were totally insensitive in the past because I didn’t have the opportunity to learn how or why those things shouldn’t be said. We should be talking about this stuff instead of normalizing it as something we simply have to accept as part of the process.
Now, this announcement won’t be news to some. We enjoyed the first part of pregnancy by letting our closest family and friends know one-on-one. Those interactions seemed far more meaningful than a giant social media announcement for everyone. We’ve loved the outpouring of support from our closest community and appreciate everything they’ve already done for us. I have to give a shoutout to a couple of my best friends who are parents themselves and have been a sounding board for all the weird and uncomfortable things I’ve been texting. Pregnancy symptoms aren’t just something they put on WebMD for fun. That shit is REAL. I’ve had a miserable time of it with nausea and exhaustion.
With that in mind, I’ve already been bombarded with questions about my own pregnancy and I’m sure if you’re reading this you have some questions too. I’ve also been given lots of unsolicited advice and commentary. So I put together a frequently asked questions/unsolicited advice/assumptions section of this blog for you. Maybe this will give you a feel for where I’m at and answer all those questions I’m hoping to not have to answer a million times on social media in the future.
Question: When are you due?
Answer: December 20th.
Question: Is it a boy or a girl?
Answer: Too early to know.
Question: Yeah, it’s probably too early to find out, but what do you want? A boy or a girl?
Answer: Gender is a social construct. Many people are born with a biological sex that does not match their gender identity. I’m happy to have any child with any gender identity, gender presentation, or gender expression.
Question: Will you do a gender reveal?
Answer: I believe these parties perpetuate gender stereotyping and they’re not for me.
Question: Are you excited? Is Nick excited?
Answer: Nick is excited every day. I’m weirded out by the whole process of pregnancy and have spent the last couple months mostly feeling miserable. Right now, excited is a word I find difficult to use. “Interested” is a better word. Or possibly “bewildered.” Please don’t rake me over the coals if I don’t look, act, or feel excited all the time. While I understand some people are thrilled to be pregnant or fought long and hard to get to that point – I’m allowing myself to feel how I feel, just like how other people are welcome to feel how they feel.
Unsolicited Advice: Your whole life is about to change.
Answer: Is it? I had no idea.
Unsolicited Advice: Let me tell you all about my traumatic birth/pregnancy or other horrific experiences.
Answer: Please don’t. I worked in labor and delivery and have seen births. It doesn’t freak me out. As someone who suffers from anxiety and can’t currently take medication for it, I’d rather not hear about your traumas or horror stories.
Unsolicited Advice: I’m going to share tons of links with you online with articles, videos, tutorials and more unsolicited advice than you could ever imagine. I’ll do it under the guise of saying, “This made me think of you” or “Just thought this would help.”
Answer: This was one of the biggest reasons I always thought I wouldn’t share my pregnancy online. Pregnancy is full of unsolicited advice. Please don’t overwhelm me with more of it when I didn’t ask.
Question: What’s your birth plan?
Answer: My birth plan is to give birth.
Question: Was this pregnancy planned?
Answer: Not your business.
Question: Have you already picked out names?
Answer: Yes, but I’m not interested in anyone else’s opinions on them except my husband.
Question: Are you going to breastfeed? You should, because breast is best.
Answer: I’m not and my reasoning is nobody’s business, but my own. Please don’t violate my bodily integrity by trying to educate me on why breast is best. I’ve spent a lot of time in a workplace with lactation consultants and I’m well aware of the benefits.
Assumption: When X,Y, or Z happens you’ll feel….
Answer: Please stop telling me how I’ll feel.
Unsolicited Advice: But It’s all worth it in the end.
Answer: Is this piece of advice like a weird hazing ritual we do to pregnant people to minimize their current feelings and experiences?
Unsolicited Advice: Don’t carry that. You shouldn’t be exercising, swimming, lifting weights….etc.
Answer: I’m pregnant, not dead.
Any sentence that starts with “just you wait” or “sleep while you can” should just be kept to yourself. And if someone tells you to keep their pregnancy quiet, please don’t be that friend or family member that announces or hints at it on social media when you don’t know what their plans are. We need to engage in respect for pregnant women and their bodies. Their bodies, situations, medical needs and more do not suddenly become public property. It’s incredibly important to respect the bodily integrity of any person. If you ask a question, respect their right to not provide an answer. Want to touch them? Ask first, and again respect their right not to be touched.
I don’t necessarily feel experienced enough to be sending out the advice to anyone pregnant or hoping to be, but if I could say one thing that I think would have helped me and I know would help others – it would be that you get to do this whole pregnancy and parenthood thing however you want. People can throw their opinions and judgements at you, but you still get to do things in a way that makes you happy. It’s okay to not feel thrilled all the time, to feel like crap, to complain about it, to feel depressed some days and ecstatic others. It’s okay to not do everything perfectly. It’s okay to feel the way you feel and I hope my experiences help recognize that and we all can stop feeling like we’re made to fit into fluffy little pregnancy glows. If your pregnancy feels like a soul-sucking void some days – own it.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m supposed to embrace my role into motherhood, and suddenly start using cutesy phrases like “little one.” While I’m not relishing in every moment of this, I’m happy about it and I’m okay with not being overcome with excitement at every turn. I’m grateful for the opportunity to go through this, but I also empathize with those who are unable at the same time. I’m advocating that all of our experiences are important and different and as such, we should be allowed to feel our feelings about our bodies regardless of society’s expectations of how we should feel and act. And forgive me if I can’t be excited about clothes with cutsey sayings on them. Right now I’m just crying about the passion of daffodil specialists on Gardner’s World every week. It’s okay to cry at weird things by the way.
So yeah, there it is – normalizing pregnancy and all that. 😉 What am I looking forward too? Nerdy baby things, of course! I want a “Stormageddon Dark Lord of All” onesie (it’s a Doctor Who thing). Oh and here’s a photo (it’s already old and the thing is already as big as some other kind of fruit now).