All this political discussion of abortion gives me the willies, and it wasn't until I read the phrase 'enforced pregnancy' - on this very blog, in fact - that I worked out why. It's not just that I get irate at people who seem to care more about foetuses than the wellbeing of the grown women who carry them. And it's not even the fact that I'm Catholic, with all the lurking moral quandaries that entails. I just don't like the idea of anyone being forced to be pregnant, regardless of whose fault it is that they got that way. Because in my experience, pregnancy sucks.
Now, I know that for many of you female readers, being with child is a lovely time in your life. It makes you radiant and fulfilled and excited. For those who have had such positive experiences, I'm genuinely happy. But pregnancy made me into a giant, cranky sphere - like the Death Star, but with chubby limbs. I had the panicked feeling of being trapped in a nauseous, unwieldly body, and spent both my pregnancies longing to escape back into normality.
There was the morning sickness. During my first pregnancy, it lasted the whole nine months. Every work day was an ordeal - I was desperately tired, and spent a fair chunk of time in the toilets retching and/or crying. (One day, I dragged myself home from work and decided to distract myself from the nausea by watching TV. I switched on the box to find documentary footage of snails gettin' jiggy. I threw up.)
During my second pregnancy, the morning sickness lasted for only four months, but was far, far worse. I was bedridden for almost a month, and for most of that time, too sick even to watch snails mating on TV or read a book. Over this period, my long-suffering partner ended up taking sole responsibility for our preschool-aged daughter, holding down his job and caring for me all at the same time.
During both pregnancies, I was trying to hold down jobs (two during my first pregnancy). I exhausted my sick leave pretty quick, so had to drag my sorry keister back to work. Quitting or taking unpaid leave were not financial options. (Since then, I've wondered whether I should have tried making an ACC claim for lost earnings following a procreational accident.)
There was the depression, ante-natal and post-natal. There was the craving for boysenberry icecream for breakfast - the only food I could stomach for some time during my first pregnancy - which made me as big as a house. There was the gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy, which may or may not have been related to the boysenberry icecream fixation of my first. There was the discomfort and the exhaustion and the insomnia. And then there were the extraodinarily traumatic births at the end of each pregnancy. Let's not even go there.
The point is that pregnancy and birth can be tough experiences - even terrifying ones - when you actually want to go through with them. Surely, they're much worse when you don't. Pregnancy can mean being desperately sick. It can mean your worklife and finances falling apart. It can put strain on your relationships. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and I certainly wouldn't force it on them.