I am a part of a few parenting groups on FB, some of which are super drama and others which are full of thoughtful, kind and nuanced conversation. I enjoy them for a variety of reasons and have recently worked hard to set some limits with myself to ensure my participation and engagement are, you know, not rage inducing. I’ve been mostly successful.
This morning, a mom posted in one of these groups (my personal fave) about an issue she was experiencing. She is parenting two small children and her husband is un/under-employed and not super helpful with parenting or life-keeping. She is also pregnant again, unexpectedly, and was soliciting information and advice about termination of the pregnancy.
I want to say, first and foremost, that I was pleasantly shocked at how kind, supportive and generally not shitty the conversation was overall. I just want that out there, for the record.
But what I DID read was the occasional comment about how maybe she should consider adoption “because so many people struggle to have children.” One woman even talked about her personal struggles with IVF and why that experience made her feel strongly that there are so many people who WANT to be parents . . .
Which is true. It’s so true. There are SO many people who want to be parents and who are struggling mightily with the soul crushing grief that becoming a parent is not happening how or when they wanted, or sometimes at all. I am not talking to clueless people here, I know. Y’all know so deeply – to the core of who you are – how deep the ache to become a parent is, and the shocking number of us who struggle with this.
But that struggle – and the physical stress it caused, the lengths it led me to undergo in pursuit of a baby – all of that only reinforced for me that abortion should be legal, accessible, and not judged. It also did not make me feel like my infertility should be a reason to shame or persuade anyone to continue a pregnancy when that is not absolutely what they want to do.
I felt a lot of rage, reading these comments, because I felt weirdly implicated by them. Because there is a really strange feeling I get from these comments, which seem to be more about the feelings those of us who struggled to become parents get about those who DON’T struggle – the jealousy, the envy. And while I am of the personal opinion that feelings are things and all of them are legitimate, that doesn’t mean we get to always voice our opinions, or that other people can’t critique them.
So yes, it’s fair and ok to be jealous of other’s getting pregnant easily. What feels NOT RIGHT, in no uncertain terms to me, is to then project that envy on to someone who is considering termination, to remind them that so many people CAN’T get pregnant so maybe they should consider that when making a decision about themselves?
No one is owed children. It doesn’t matter how good or right, how loving and kind we would be. Children are not cookies given for good behavior, or gold star awards for the best people. The idea that someone would guilt another person into carrying a pregnancy just because they can’t makes me feel kind of ill.
This is all not to say that adoption isn’t an amazing, incredible thing, or that adoption shouldn’t be more talked about and less harshly judged. (I am fully aware that folks who place children for adoption are often shamed and judged by friends and family for making this decision) It just means that when someone is considering termination and asking for thoughts about termination, it’s not fair to remind them of how “lucky” they are to get to be pregnant and then ask them to consider doing something like placing a child for adoption – a beautiful gift and a terribly difficult decision to make.
We should all have access to whatever we need to make the best decisions about our own bodies and when, how and if we become parents. The things I need will differ from others, based on my desires, my body, my experience. What someone else needs shouldn’t be dictated by what I have or don’t have. If pregnancy was a sandwich – if I didn’t want my PBJ I could hand it over to you, who does – maybe this would be a different conversation. But knowing the intense experiences, physically, that I went through trying to get and then being pregnant, I find it vile that someone would effectively request that someone else have that experience against their will, simply because they cannot.