by Dustin Gill
Recently I became a father and, what’s more, my fiancé became a mom. You see, I had the easy part; though it wasn’t easy to see her agonize through contractions and it wasn’t easy to hear the word “paraplegic” come out of the anesthesiologist’s mouth before sticking a needle into her spine; it wasn’t easy helplessly watching her in pain, before, during, or after the birth of our baby girl. It wasn't easy to watch her cry. And, though it wasn’t easy knowing I couldn't ease her pain and it hurt to standby not being able to share the load, in the end, it was only she who was truly suffering.
Pain isn’t even it; there’s much more than pain involved in carrying a baby nine months from conception to birth; there are physical transformations of the body. Women have to deal with a newfound appetite and an ever-growing waistline. They have to buy a new wardrobe: pants, shirts, and jackets for work and at home. Maternity clothes are not inexpensive, nor are bras, whether they are specialized for breastfeeding or not.
And, as that baby bump continues to grow, with the morning sickness from the first trimester beginning to fade and a new set of hormones completely taking over their minds and bodies, women have to deal with a new set of social stigmas brought on by the reality of simply appearing pregnant. Strangers take it as invitation to touch tummies or share experiences, some people reach out in extreme kindness, and others not so much. All of a sudden new identities, judgments and expectations are placed on a young mother to be. Are you married? Are you ready? What about your job?
Simply being pregnant can be cause for a change in relationships with family, friends and perfect strangers. In the workplace women have to contend with the change in their ability to perform their job, sometimes with unsympathetic employers unwilling to accommodate a seemingly inconvenient pregnancy. Clients they deal with may look at them differently. And then, for the rest of their lives they live with the possibility of being looked down upon for being “just” a “homemaker,” or “only” a “housewife.” It would seem that, considering what they go through to get there, being a Mom is severely unappreciated in these modern times where productivity and progress are considered paramount.
After watching my fiancé go through the sometimes agonizing nine month transformation of her mind, body and life, and come out fine on the other side, I must say I have a newfound respect for the courage it takes to be a woman and the strength it takes to be a mom. And just as a child asks “where do babies come from?” I encourage everyone to ask where moms come from as well.
This column was written by Dustin Gill, a graduating student of the University of Regina School of Journalism.