Things I have learned from pregnancy

This is a post I wrote over two months ago, before Ra-Ra was born, and never published.


How can this thing feel both completely unique and desperately ordinary? Both enormously significant and utterly banal? Both normal and absolutely not?

As a confirmed cynic and lifelong environmentalist (overpopulation was a concern of mine when I was eight years old) I grapple with this every day. I knew all of this before I saw those two lines on the Clicks home pregnancy kit last year. But it was theoretical. Now it’s inescapably real.

The first thing is that there is nothing special about being pregnant. Women have been squatting in fields for thousands upon thousands of years. We happen to live in a world where some spend thousands trying to fall pregnant and fail, and others have babies despite not wanting them. Sometimes they will go to Marie Stopes; sometimes the child will end up in a dustbin.

I am wary of fetishising the experience of pregnancy or motherhood. This is something that happens all the time, sometimes out of choice, sometimes not. 7 billion people on the planet would suggest that it’s not an especially unusual occurrence. Being older and, yes, privileged, means that pregnancy takes on a different meaning for me compared to a teenager knocked up by an indifferent sugar daddy.

Pregnancy can kill you. How strange is that? Just the condition of being pregnant is enough to trigger potentially fatal high blood pressure and kidney failure. You’d think evolution would have taken care of that, but apparently not.

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