Unconventionally Practical

I was watching Friends the other night when this conversation happened.

Monica: Do you really think feeling sorry is the best reason to get married?
Chandler: No, pregnancy is the best reason to get married.

A question I’ve been getting a lot since I got pregnant is “Are you going to get married?”

My boyfriend gave me this ring 2 years ago, and I've worn it every day since. (Though recently, I can't get it over my chubby swollen pregnant fingers.)

My boyfriend gave me this ring 2 years ago, and I’ve worn it every day since. (Though recently, I can’t get it over my chubby swollen pregnant fingers.)

My answer is always this: Maybe someday.

There’s always this notion that if a couple gets pregnant, they should get married because “it’s best for the baby”. I don’t believe that at all.

In fact, I know several adult couples that are in long-term, monogamous, committed relationships that have no intention to get married, some even have children. You don’t have to get married to show the world you love each other, and you don’t have to get married to be a family.

In today’s society, people believe in an order. This order to be exact:

  1. Graduate from high school
  2. Graduate from college
  3. Get a job
  4. Get married
  5. Have children
  6. Live happily ever after

This order is so heavily engraved in people’s minds from childhood that they believe any deviation will lead to inevitable demise. If someone chooses to not go to college, society looks down on them. Society believes they can’t live a successful life. If someone has children out of this order, society tells them that they can’t be top-notch parents. Society makes them believe they can’t get that happily ever after, or if they want it they have to work 50x harder than the average person. It’s not even so much an order than it is society’s “recipe for happiness”.

I think that because of this order, people that get pregnant “out of turn” get married because they need to get as close to this order as they possibly can.

I’m only 19. I don’t want to get married. Do I love my boyfriend? Yes. Do I want to be with him? Yes. Do I think we’ll make terrific parents regardless of our marital status? Hell yes.

Does being unmarried mean I’m not going to be as kind to my child? Does being unmarried mean I won’t be there for her whenever she needs me? Does being unmarried mean my boyfriend and I can’t cooperate successfully to raise her? Does being unmarried mean I can’t be a good mother?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then turn your computer off and sleep until you stop being ignorant.

Am I shaming people that choose to get married early? NO.

If you love someone so much and you’re committed to them and you want to marry them because you love each other and it would make you both indescribably happy, then I am so happy for you! I am unbelievably happy for you! I have nothing against people that choose to marry at an early age, pregnant or not.

What I have a problem with is this idea that because a couple has a child together that they should get married because it’s “what’s right”.

While I’m at it, what does it even mean to marry “early”? What defines “early”? 18? 19? Hell, even 23 is considered too young to some people. A hundred years ago or so, married at 18 was even considered late.

I’m only 19. I don’t want to get married. Maybe I’d like to someday. Who says I’ll even end up with my boyfriend? We’re only 19. Life can still happen. I would love to say we’re going to live happily ever after, but who knows. I feel ready enough to be a good mother, but not ready enough to be a wife. I don’t even think I’ll be ready to marry when I’m 24 or 25. Everyone is different.

For now, I want to enjoy my life. So maybe I won’t finish college in my society-accepted time frame. So maybe I won’t get married when people think I should. What I’m going to do is be a good mother to my daughter. What I’m going to do is be a good girlfriend to my boyfriend. What I’m going to do is live my life the way I want to, whether or not society thinks it’s right. What I’m going to do is live happily whether I follow this ridiculous order or not.

We’re all in control of our lives, whether we think we are or not. Just because I’m following a different order doesn’t mean my life won’t be as good as anyone else’s.

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The Beautifully Frightening Miracle

One of the strangest and most miraculous parts of pregnancy is feeling your baby kick.

I found that picture on google, but does that really happen? Because looking down and seeing that would scare the shit out of me tbh.

I found that picture on google, but does that really happen? Because looking down and seeing that would scare the shit out of me tbh.

I started feeling Ember move when I was probably late in my fourth month. Everyone said it was probably just gas, but I knew it was her. I know what gas feels like, but this was something completely different. It was like a tiny fish swimming back and forth in tiny circles in my lower abdomen.

As time went on, the feelings started getting gradually more intense.

By the fifth month, it kind of felt like I had swallowed a huge sausage whole, and it was doing cartwheels inside me. There were tiny bumps every now and then, but nothing significantly noteworthy.

The sixth month was ridiculous. I remember being scared out of my mind the first time she kicked so hard that my stomach started bouncing. I remember drinking a whole glass of ice water and walking up stairs, and when I sat down she was kicking so fast and furiously that my stomach looked like it was bubbling, or like something was trying to punch its way out of me.

Now I’m halfway through my seventh month and her kicks and punches are still as powerful. I’ll be sitting or standing minding my own business when suddenly it’s like someone launched a canon in my stomach and the ball tried to burst out. This is such a strangely unique experience that I can’t even think of a proper metaphor to compare it to. Literally all I can say is, “It feels like there’s a little person inside me kicking around.”

In media and movies and even from other women, they always describe it as miraculous. The baby will start kicking and they’ll describe it as beautiful and wonderful and miraculous and amazing. They’ll look down at their bellies with a warm smile and caress their protruding stomachs and you can tell that they’re glowing and full of love. When I first found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to feel these kicks and punches and to give off that warm, motherly, womanly glow of being with child.

But now, not so much.

I always feel this horrible guilt.

When my beautiful darling Ember starts thrashing around in there, sometimes I get scared. Sometimes I’ll hold my stomach and think, “Please stop baby, you’re kind of hurting mommy…” I feel like I should be grateful and humbled that I get to experience this wonderful miracle when others can’t. It feels sinful to say anything negative about the pregnancy experience as a whole.

But no one ever told me how scary it can be. No one ever told me how weird and sometimes painful it is.

No one told me she would kick in the middle of the night so hard it hurts and wakes me up. No one told me she would kick and punch upwards into my ribs which is the MOST uncomfortable thing and there’s no way I can position myself to make it feel better. No one told me it would be this strange.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love it. When she’s in there moving and kicking and bouncing around, I’m happy because it means she’s okay. She’s active and she’s healthy. When she moves, it feels like she’s communicating with me and telling me she’s excited and ready to come out and be with me and see the world.

It’s just that, sometimes I get scared and uncomfortable and stressed out. When she’s moving I get uncomfortable and feel sick, but when she’s not moving I get stressed out because I keep thinking, Why hasn’t she moved in a few hours? Is she okay? Did I do something wrong? Should I call my doctor?

I hate that I have to feel guilty for using negative terms. Uncomfortable, creepy, strange. Pregnancy is beautiful, my daughter is beautiful, but not everything has to be perfect. I’m only human, and so is she.

I’m not sure how well I’ve been communicating my feelings about this topic. Even though I’m going through it, it’s still technically new to me. I guess I don’t really have enough time to “get used to it”, but I’m pretty glad it doesn’t last that long. There are a lot of things I want to say about how pregnancy feels, but when I try my thoughts come out incoherent. I wish I had better writing skills to communicate this experience, because it really is something wild.

I love my daughter so much. But I gotta say, I can’t wait until she comes out so I can watch her kick instead of feel it.