Parents: We Are Not Pregnant

Attention parents: We are not pregnant. If you are not carrying the baby, you are not pregnant. You can be expectant or expecting but you are not pregnant. If you are sitting there drinking wine and eating bleu cheese and no one is giving you side-eye or a lecture about how you’re a horrible person and will more than likely be a horrible parent, you are not pregnant. If there isn’t another person literally rolling around inside you, hiccuping you awake at 3 in the morning, you are not pregnant.

Now, let’s be clear. Being pregnant does not make you a parent. It can teach you the fundamentals of parenting on a very basic, physical level such as your life is no longer your own and get more supportive shoes, you’re going to need them. But if you are sleeping through the night the month before the baby is born, you are not pregnant. The pregnant one is on a seemingly endless track between fitful sleep and peeing. Is this meant to leave people out? No, because you’re already out. If you aren’t either the baby being carried or carrying the baby you are not part of the physical experience that is happening.

You might very well be paying a high price for the pregnancy experience of another. I don’t doubt that. That is your experience. Tell us about that. We don’t hear about it enough. What is the emotional journey of the person outside the loop? Is it hard? It looks lonely. And confusing. And kind of scary. Also, you can check out whenever you want, pack your bags and fuck off to another country because this is waaaay too much.

But the vast majority of you don’t. Why? I think there is strength of character inherent in that. A choice made day by day, minute by minute. You are outside the physical lockdown going on and yet you continue to show up.

I understand what it means to be pregnant, to be physically tied to another in a sort of doomsday relationship. There’s no getting out of being pregnant without either wrenching grief or giving birth. That’s a crap binary. But the partner? I know very little about that. I wonder if the first few months of parenting are harder for them because they had no training in what it means to have your entire existence hijacked.

And I think parents who adopt are in an endurance class of their own. Adoption has to be an enormously difficult and stressful experience. I’m assuming no one is sleeping the night before the baby comes. Or even the week. Or month.

There is so much more to the beginning stage of being a parent than just being pregnant. Being pregnant is special and important but it isn’t the entirety of the pre-parenting stage. Being the partner or the adoptive parent(s) are just as valid an experience as being pregnant. I’d like to hear more about those experiences (not saying I don’t love pregnancy/birth stories because I love those, too.) I like all the stories about how people become parents.

True tales of transformation? Bring them on, in all their diverse glory.

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