– by Dendrite –
Alright internet, here it goes: I’m pregnant!
I started off relatively calm but, as is common, a few months after my husband and I started trying I still wasn’t pregnant. I was pretty frustrated because I’m a BIOLOGIST. I have an in-depth understanding of the female reproductive cycle, what happens when sperm meets egg, yada yada yada, but this had no bearing on my actual fertility. Here was Kim Kardashian, flaunting her enormous, completely ignorant baby bump for all to see and my knowledge of human biology didn’t mean beans (or in this case, baby). I knew rationally that it didn’t matter how much I knew, but it sure felt like it should matter! I can even draw and label all of a person’s reproductive parts on the board for students without giggling!
Worries about fertility were soon put to rest when I saw that positive pregnancy test (yay!).
Now I’ve been interested in reproduction, babies, and women’s health issues for a long time so have asked other women some pretty personal questions, though I’d like to think I do it with some tact. But it seems there is just something about pregnancy that dissolves many a person’s social filter entirely to dust.
Many moms warned me about what people might do as I announce the news; strangers reaching for my belly, giving unsolicited childrearing advice, giving predictions about exactly how much pain I’ll be in during labor. What thoroughly surprised me though was one of the first comments I received when I started telling people I was pregnant.
I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning and I told my hygienist I was pregnant to avoid x-rays and the like. The first words out of her mouth?
“So was this pregnancy planned or unplanned?”
Luckily she was starting to clean my teeth at this point so I was able to mumble some sort of “uh huh” answer.
On the way home from this visit I was pretty offended and started thinking about how I should have responded. What I wanted to say was “What business is it of yours? Don’t you realize that this is offensive whatever my answer might be? How do you know we haven’t been trying for years? Maybe it is unplanned, and then SO WHAT?” But my deeply ingrained Midwestern niceness kept me from saying any of these things to her or future “Judy Judy”s.
After a few rounds of strangers asking me this question I realized what about it bothered me so much. What exactly is this person trying to figure out? And what are they thinking in the case of either answer?
If I answer unplanned, I would potentially feel embarrassed to say this, and judged for getting pregnant on accident. If planned, it means they are judging my family planning skills, right?
So though I’m very excited to be having this baby and even think I might do a reasonably good job “balancing” baby and work (ha!), I keep worrying everyone (committee members, potential employers, colleagues, family etc.) is thinking the same thing:
“Why did you choose to have a baby when you are in graduate school? Shouldn’t you complete your degree first? What makes you think you are even ready for a baby?”
While professionally there may be challenges associated with my gestational status, personally I need to push down the judgment I feel when I get asked “Planned or unplanned?” and respond like my husband:
“It doesn’t matter now, does it?”
And watch the bewildered looks on their faces.