An interesting story that came up late last week was Kim Kardashian saying something typically unspeakable – namely, that pregnancy kind of sucks.
Normally, my interest in what any of the Kardashians do is somewhere around zero. I don’t typically have any positive interest in their affairs but nor do I have any particularly negative feelings about them. I just really, really don’t care. This comment, however, caught my attention because it’s an issue that, courtesy of my own pregnancy, is currently quite close to my heart.
The fact is that pregnancy really is damn hard, and the reality of it, when I first fell so, was just plain shocking. Nothing and nobody adequately prepares you for how tough it’s going to be. It’s extraordinarily demanding on you physically and it can be particularly rough emotionally as well.
The details of the whole experience are pretty well known, ranging from the horrors of all day morning sickness through to the aches, pains and hormonal hell and then finally to the excruciating finale. A lot can go wrong during pregnancy, and a lot can go wrong in its wake. Yet despite this being known and being something fundamental that a good portion of humanity has had to endure for as long as we’ve been members of humanity, we still get stuck on this idea of pending motherhood as this happy, glorious, wonderfully natural state to be in. I read stories about, say, Jennifer Love Hewitt in prenatal bliss and I feel like we might actually belong to different species (and note that she has a pregnancy clothing line to try and sell).
It’s easy to feel resentful of this particular image when your pregnancy feels like its, at best, one very long endurance test.But then, just when you’re feeling particularly achy and exhausted and willing the baby out already, something like this goes viral too:
I came across this on Facebook after an acquaintance (whose fertility situation I really don’t know) liked it. It’s a baby girl, surrounded by a heart shape made of IVF syringes to represent those which her parents used to conceive her.
I haven’t done IVF, though I was forced to consider the possibility that we might need to go there… and the possibility that doing so might be a bridge too far for me, especially if we had to repeat it many times over. The fertility treatments I did need to conceive the baby I’m carrying as I type this were enough to take me to some dark emotional places, and that photo reminds me acutely that there were tougher ones to which we could have gone, that we may end up going to in the future. How can one complain about the difficulties of pregnancy when so many people out there who – yes, including my past self – would be grateful to be pregnant at all?
But surely we can manage it. We are talking about processes around a huge, important part of human life, after all. There has to be room for some complexity in the discussion. We are not simple creatures really. It has to be possible to be grateful to be having a baby, and yet, as the author notes in the first link, “to be utterly thrilled to be growing a baby and still hate every minute of it” without being damned for it.