We Need To Talk….. About Pregnancy

I bet you never thought you’d see that title on my blog right?

But we do. We do need to talk about pregnancy. We need to talk about how as a modern society, where 15 – 20% of South African couples will struggle with infertility and seek out alternative paths to parenting, so much of the dialogue, around motherhood specifically, is so pregnancy centric and so exclusionary for those of us to took an alternative path to parenthood. 

The pregnancy as motherhood narrative needs to change….

I’ve blogged on numerous occasions about how I felt excluded from the mommy “club” and the reasons are almost always because so much of what we believe about motherhood is tied into pregnancy.

I’m tired of feeling excluded. Of feeling like I a somehow less than a mother because I didn’t have the pregnancy experience. And I’m not alone in my thoughts and feelings. I’m tired of media being so focused on pregnancy as motherhood. I’m tired of reading articles about life with newborns and what to expect after giving birth, or articles written to second time moms and coping with an older sibling that are all so pregnancy centric. I’m tired of having exclusions on our medical aid or having certain benefits withheld because I didn’t give birth. 

Pregnancy doesn’t make you a mother.

Pregnancy is a journey to motherhood, just like adoption is a journey to motherhood, or egg donor, or sperm donor, or surrogacy are all journeys to parenthood. In a social conscious society, where we are trying to be unbiased and conscious of the needs, feelings, thoughts and experiences of those on alternative paths to us, it’s time that we started extending that courtesy, that right, to all mothers, to all parents, irrespective of their journey to parenthood. 

Anyway, I wrote an column for Parent24 about this very topic, I hope you’ll give it a read and come back and share your thoughts with me.

Pregnancy doesn’t make you a mother. 

In the column, I shared some of my experiences, along with other’s who have been excluded from the mommy “club”, some of them might surprise you.

What are your thoughts? 

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  • Reply spiritedmama1

    Great article Sharon! I totally agree with you. It’s like the saying about any man can father a child but it takes a MAN to raise a child, hope it makes sense. I have very little regard for my own biological mom. Just because you gave birth to me doesn’t automatically make you my “MOM”. There is SO much more to being a mom than being pregnant. And like you said “it’s what comes after the child is born” that is what matters! Since having my boys I had an aha moment of why I felt the disregard and disconnect from my own mother. Being a mom is definitely an infinite journey. There is no cut off/ deadline…you’re there for the kid(s) ALL the time.

    You’re doing an awesome job of raising your girls. Believe me, my mom aint got nothing on you, even though she birthed me…

    You could always start your own club 🙂 Let me know how to apply because I’ll join your club any day!

    July 6, 2017 at 9:08 am
  • Reply nunu5

    Too true. My sister who has held the idea of pregnancy as the most amazing of experiences has been dissapointed to find that most of the time it is just getting fat. There is no mystical connection with this parasite inside you, often there is just guit at whatever treat you should not be exposing them to that you havent the will power to aviod. Yes you can bond with other women over cravings and aches and pains. But for me by the time the baby comes the pregancy was a complete non entity. Excluding moms based on pregnancy or the lack there of seems crazy. It is like saying if you did not breastfeed or deliver naturally you are not a proper mom. I think there is inherent guilt in parenting that you assign to whatever “thing” you did not manage to do, everyone one hangs thier guilt on to something. Fo rme it was not trying hard enough with breast feeding – even though I tried till I bled.

    And then dont even get me started on medical aid!! Ethically they should not be allowed to be listed on the JSE, as they are holding us ransom for our health. They and pharaceutical companies should be non-profit organisations. Helth should not be reserved for the wealthy.

    July 6, 2017 at 9:20 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I think it’s important to note though, this is not a guilt thing, this is an exclusion thing. Advertising, media, blogs, mom groups, medical aids, etc etc etc exclude mothers who have not given birth because of their pregnancy centric narrative. That is the point. If you read the column I wrote on Parent24, someone has even gone so far as to tell me I’m not a real mother because I wasn’t pregnant. I’m also not alone in this sentiment, I gave a number of examples of mothers who feel the same way or have experienced the same thing I have.

      July 6, 2017 at 9:24 am
  • Reply Blessed Confusion

    I had the same feeling a few minutes ago after reading a post on Facebook from a husband to his pregnant wife. No matter what, society will always exclude me. I’ve had two misscarriages, that means I lost 2 children, but to others it does not make me a mother. Now as we’re waiting for our ‘call’, I’m curious to see what our parenthood will be classified as. I’m looking forward to reading your article about this.

    July 6, 2017 at 10:27 am
  • Reply Natalie

    Thank you so much for writing this, I had no idea that this was an issue. I’m really sorry that you and other women are faced with such unkindness.

    I’m a never-been-pregnant mother as well and I think you are perfectly right to sensitise people and make them aware that we need to change the discourse, as well as the words we use.

    I suppose the trans/queer/egalitarian movement would also prefer if we made less of a distinction between moms and dads and focused more on being parents.

    On this note, this new generation has been raised with such awareness, inclusivity and kindness towards a less and less binary world, that I have a lot of hope for the future of society.

    July 6, 2017 at 12:24 pm
  • Reply Samantha Dube

    I am an egg donor and the questions I got after I told some friends about the retrieval. One was “So you have a kid out there somewhere” and I had to point out that the baby is hers not mine, Not sure how egg recipients feels but you’re right the focus is too much on pregnancy and not motherhood. Awareness for these type of issues is really needed. You’re brave to voice the fears of 15 to 20% of people out there.

    July 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm
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