I think we’re all aware that the world around us has changed dramatically over the last sixty years or so, and for the most part I would say that’s a good thing. Technology, equality, opportunity, and the overall ability to pursue happiness and the all American Dream has advanced and become easier to take hold of. The role of women alone has come a long way, and the female’s desire to be taken seriously in the workplace has really started to take shape. Feminists everywhere rejoice. Yippee.
I am all about moving forward and being taken seriously as an intelligent, professional woman, but in the quest to become equals it’s been neglected that we are different from men. And I don’t think any area proclaims this more clearly than a woman’s ability to bear children. I mean, seriously, that kind of sets us apart from our male counterparts, but in a span of decades where women have wished to be seen just as strong as a man the sheer miraculous occurrence of carrying and growing a human life has been shelved as just another thing.
What I see is this. Pregnancy isn’t seen as a big deal anymore, and women who are carrying a baby inside them actually perform in society at the same pace as those who are not. In women’s long fight to not be coddled or considered the weaker sex we’ve gotten just what we asked for, and so now when we are in a physical condition that requires a little slack very little is to be found.
Pregnant women are allowed to share the joy of the miracle happening inside them, but it’s much less common to hear them complain. The fact is that growing a baby is really hard work, but you seldom hear a woman admit this. Instead they stay strong holding their feelings of discomfort to themselves, and anyone around a pregnant woman might not even realize she’s expecting if not for the bulging belly and swollen face.
We live in a society that doesn’t talk about how trying, tiring, and draining pregnancy can be. We live in a world that is so politically correct that a woman carrying a baby is almost afraid to discuss out loud the difficulties she’s experiencing for fear of the backlash she will receive.
It’s true that the ability to have a baby is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but it’s also extremely hard. The problem is you can’t express that emotion without appearing ungrateful for the life inside you.
Pregnant women aren’t allowed to complain, or at least that’s not the popular choice of expression. If they do happen to slip and let out a vocal frustration they are quickly met with the common phrase, “it will be so worth it in the end.” I see that a lot, and I can’t help but think, well, of course it’s worth it! I wouldn’t be doing it a third time if it wasn’t!
The bottom line for me is that growing a tiny human is tough. In fact it’s one of the toughest things we’ll ever do (aside from raising teenagers I’ve heard). Perhaps I should specify to say it’s the toughest physical challenge that many women will face, but we seem to have forgotten how to admit that. We seem to have forgotten that it’s okay to say, “This is hard! I’m really tired, and my vagina feels like Mike Tyson punched it!” Instead when asked we answer in an awe-shucks manner, “I’m okay; just ready for the baby to be here soon.” Yet even as we stand stoic and speak our strong words to strangers our inner woman wants to cry, I haven’t slept through the night in months, and I feel like I’m breathing fire.
Listen to me now; this is the important part. Having a baby is one on the most precious, blessed experiences I have ever had! I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I’m currently pregnant again because it is worth it. It’s amazing! But… It’s also hard. Really hard, and sometimes I just want to say so and not feel like I’m being a big baby, complainer. I want someone to pat my head compassionately and instead of say, “it will be worth it in the end,” I want to hear them say, “What you’re doing is amazing. I remember, and it’s really tough. Hang in there.” Then they can hand me a piece of chocolate, and let me cry in their lap.
Women are one of the strongest creatures alive when it comes to childbirth, and I think it’s okay to remember that we’re still strong even when we admit weakness. It’s okay to say, “I feel like this baby is sucking the life out of me!” It’s okay to not enjoy every single thing about being pregnant. Just because you complain about the hardships every now and then, it doesn’t mean you’re not grateful. If you recall in Genesis God told Eve it wouldn’t be easy on her. Childbirth is a blessing of life, but it also really freaking hurts. Just saying.
Next time you see a pregnant woman try to remember that she’s walking through the pain of sciatica on probably only four hours sleep. She’s emotionally frazzled, physically exhausted, and her breasts really hurt. She’s completely aware that she’s holding a beautiful, perfect miracle in her womb, but she may also just want someone to say, “why don’t you have a seat? You look like you could take a load off.”
Like an old cigarette ad stated after women’s lib, “you have come a long way baby,” but in my opinion it’s okay to admit when you feel that you are physically and emotionally lacking. You’re stronger than you realize for carrying a child inside you, and you have the right to say it ain’t easy.
Everyone else around you should take a moment to understand that your complaints aren’t out of ingratitude, or even a blindness to other’s feelings. Sometimes something is just hard and you need to say so out loud. You just need a little support in your feelings as you struggle through the symptoms and physical demands a pregnancy entails.
Pregnant women need to hear, “good job,” more often. We will be given the ultimate reward at the end of the nine months, but while in the thick of a race of utmost endurance, and after crying all morning about an insurance commercial, we could use a little sympathy and encouragement too.