It’s a given that announcing a pregnancy brings with it a lot of congratulations. It’s a major life event and something a lot of us will look forward to with great anticipation. Even if you aren’t one of the expectant parents yourself, the arrival of a new family member or the offspring of a close friend is a very exciting thing. I’ve got to the point where I’ve completely lost track of who I have and haven’t seen since announcing ours, so even now, more than halfway through, we’re still getting well wishes from those we bump into or haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes I actually have to remind myself what it is they are congratulating us for! On the other hand though, people can say some really annoying things when you’re pregnant – something I’m sure I’ll whine about on here many a time before this sprog makes it’s appearance – but there is one thing in particular I’ve been hearing lately that has really started to grate on me.
It’s inevitable that once the standard, ‘When are you due?’ ‘Do you know what you’re having?’ ‘Have you thought of names yet?’ questions are out of the way the conversation turns to the future, and often that means talking about our plans when the baby comes. It’s a crazy thing to get your head around, imagining just how much your life is going to change when this tiny helpless human is now in your care, so obviously we have nothing in the sort of firmly fixed plans, but it is of course something we’ve talked about at length. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing finances, doing maths, thinking about our career goals and aspirations, so that we have a number of choices to go with upon the end of my maternity, ranging from me not going back to work at all to me returning full time. I have no idea at all at this stage how I’m going to feel when the time comes, but it feels really good to know I have options and that I have a partner who is in this with me and will make sacrifices to support me in whatever decision I make. When I tell people that though I tend to get this response:
‘Aw, you’re so lucky‘
This is, of course, meant to be a nice comment, and I don’t think it is ever uttered with any malice in mind, in fact I’m almost certain I have probably said it myself to an expectant parent at some point in the past. But now I’m on the receiving end, it gets on my nerves, and here is why.
There are so many things about this pregnancy that I feel lucky to have experienced. The fact that I was able to get pregnant at all, especially given my age, and the fact it happened so quickly. The fact that so far it’s all progressed smoothly and both me and baby are seemingly healthy and well (touch wood). The fact that the pregnancy has been relatively easy on me so far, and I’m actually feeling amazing about my body and how I look at the moment. Small blessings too, like the fact we haven’t had to buy much stuff thanks to the kindness of family and friends, that a lot of my wardrobe is still fitting me right now and that my feet haven’t quadrupled in size like everyone said they would, making my rather large collection unwearable! All of these things, either big or small, make me feel very fortunate and I will never take them for granted. But the fact that I have choices once this baby is here, that I am financially secure and have a loving, caring partner who wants to support me? Those things aren’t luck.
This is a long planned for and much wanted baby, for both of us. We are no Spring chickens, and there were times – as regular readers will know all too well – that I genuinely feared it wouldn’t happen for me at all, because neither of us were willing to rush into this decision, despite the ticking of my biological clock. Both of us have put blood sweat and tears (oh, so many tears!) into our jobs and worked our butts off to get where we are and earn what we do. I’ve had to put myself through a hell of a lot to prove that I am someone my employers would want to invest in to earn me that chance to ask for some flexibility after my time off. We are both sensible in our approach to money. We love to treat ourselves, but we only ever live within our means and are realistic about what we can and can’t afford, forgoing things that are too frivolous and shopping around for deals or second hand bargains where we can so we can still be putting money into our savings. Dan has put a back breaking amount of work into renovating our home so that we can can save some cash on builders and decorators. So when people tell us we are ‘lucky’ to be in this situation, however well meaning, it kind of hurts. Because it didn’t get given to us – we went without to make all of this happen.
Even our relationship has taken hard graft. We both have a past that was difficult for us to over come. Our past relationships and heartbreaks have left scars that made us cautious about allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We had to work really hard hard to build trust, to accept flaws and to want to better ourselves for each other. And when it seemed like it wasn’t going to work out, we had to fight tooth and nail to save it. What we have now was born from the most painful and difficult year of both of our lives and so, again, the fact I have this amazing person in my life is no happy accident. We didn’t just stumble into this partnership and wake up pregnant one day – we chose each other, and it wasn’t a quick or easy decision.
In my line of work I talk to new parents on a regular basis, and I can’t help but feel as though too many choose to have children without thinking these things through. It’s almost as though having a baby has become another thing on a checklist of things ‘everyone just does’ when they reach a certain age regardless of whether or not they have the means to do it. Much like buying a house or having a lavish wedding, it seems like too many people see it as something they deserve, and should have, worrying about how they will cope or pay for it later. This is a personal choice of course, and I’m not here to tell people how they should approach their futures, but I do believe firmly that children are not a right, they are a privilege, and that we owe it to ourselves and those children to put some time and thought into it. Which is why I can’t help but feel my heckles rise when someone tells me I’m lucky to have these things I’ve worked so hard for. Good things don’t just happen, and we shouldn’t pretend like they do. They take work, commitment and sacrifice.
Do I appreciate the hand I’ve been dealt? Absolutely. And I will never, ever, forget the pain and struggle it took for us to get here. But please, don’t tell me I’m lucky. We made our ‘luck’ ourselves, and I’m incredibly proud of us for getting here.