Monday, February 29, 2016

Pregnancy Filter

I find pregnancy to be a horrible, torturous experience. In fact, when I first got pregnant, I tried to think of ways that it could have been orchestrated better.

1. I originally thought when a couple gets pregnant, both parties should get pregnant. This could help men understand what women are going through and make society more equitable. I think it would cut down on unprotected sex, abortions, rape, absentee fathers... a whole host of the world's ills would be over if both parties got pregnant together.

I quickly let that theory of "better" go when I realized how necessary it is for my boyfriend to be able to do everything I can't right now. If we were both pregnant we would have to hire help to do simple things like... walk downstairs to get to the mail.

2. I thought about becoming a world leader and banning pregnancy. I don't think anyone should have to endure this torture. I figured it would be better for economies to shrivel up and die and the world to be over than to subject women to the physical pain of pregnancy. I'm still not convinced that this is a bad idea. That's how bad my pregnancy is.

So keeping in mind the horrors of pregnancy, I run horrible events in history or tough situations through what I call a pregnancy filter. And I am so sad for the women who have had to endure injustices on top of pregnancy. Here's a few I think about all the time.

  • Slave ships - I've seen pictures of slaves shackled, packed into ships like sardines. And I imagine urine and feces rolling all over the ship and horrible physical trauma to able-bodied Africans. I never once saw a drawing of a pregnant woman on those pictures of the middle passage. I wonder if she was sick in her first trimester and puking all over the ship. Or if she was crippled in her third trimester by lying on her back. Lying on your back in your third trimester causes you to faint. 
  • Japanese Internment Camps - I wonder how many Japanese women were pregnant. Stripped from their homes where they had the right food to eat, prenatal vitamins and comfortable beds and couches to be imprisoned due to hate and fear. I wonder how their children turned out or if they lost their babies in the stress and the trauma.
  • Jail - I'm not sure, but I imagine there are no U-shaped pillows in jail. I imagine an inmate having twins like me couldn't get a shower chair to sit down 
  • Physically taxing jobs - I see pregnant cashiers all the time. I don't understand how they stand for eight hours carrying a baby, or like me, carrying two. I can't stand at the copier at work. I wonder how many women have lost their jobs due to being pregnant and not being able to carry out the duties. Or how many have suffered health issues or miscarriages because they tried too hard not to skip a beat.
  • Times of war - Anywhere. I am disturbed daily by stories of "Comfort Women" or "Sex Slaves" or "Rape as a tool of war." I feel violated even reading these stories. I couldn't imagine being pregnant and being subject to that torture. For the first 5, sometimes six months of your pregnancy other people don't even know you're pregnant. Do you think soldiers said, bring her she's not pregnant. But leave her alone, she's with child. I doubt it. What a horrible experience to endure. 
  • The displacement of Native Americans - I don't know enough about Native American history, but I know at some point Europeans made them walk east through climates they were unfamiliar with, wiping a good majority of them off of the map. I know walking through the cold without proper gear is torturous ALREADY. There had to have been pregnant women who took that walk and it disgusts me. 
The list in my head goes on an on. Some places in America don't even offer paid maternity leave for women. Because the people making the decisions have either never been pregnant or never experienced the way pregnancy changes a woman. (I CANNOT work eight uninterrupted hours a day anymore. My body cannot do that right now.)  So if it's 2016 and pregnancy, the oldest disability known to man, isn't even acknowledged in humane work places, there's no way pregnant women were acknowledged during these horrible times in history.

I feel like pregnant women are invisible. Like we're not supposed to talk about or acknowledge that they exist in the workplace, in history books, in historical photos, during times of duress. It's like we're supposed to disappear for nine months and come back with happy, smiling babies.

It's just something I think about a lot, now that I'm pregnant.

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