A couple of months ago, as seems to be a trend amongst journalists these days, a photo and caption I posted to Instagram was turned into an online article on a tabloid website. It's sadly not the first time, and I can't imagine it'll be the last time either. Now before I delve into the content of the post and subsequent article, can I just take a minute to point out how lazy that is? Like, you went to university, spent tens of thousands of pounds on a degree (thanks Tories), just so you could essentially take my words and add an inflammatory and often uninspired headline? I’m pretty sure you wanted more for yourself. I understand that everyone needs to have a jumping off point, but it’s hardly the scoop of the century is it? It’s not even a scoop. The information was already in the public domain. The entire ‘story’ was readily available. And who, beyond my followers, could possibly give a shit? Very strange.
The post in question was a list of things I’ve found hard about pregnancy by the halfway point, followed by a list of things that I’ve managed to swerve, or that have been relatively positive. Apparently now, I am insulting women who can’t have children. My response to this is lengthy, so I’m going to break it down point by point.
MY JOURNEY IS NOT HERE TO VALIDATE OR TO INVALIDATE YOURS
There seems to be this idea that the more you go through, the more you must love your child. This is absolute bullshit. The idea that if you haven’t struggled during your pregnancy or conception, you’re somehow less deserving, or you haven't earned the same strength as the women with PGP, or their heads in the toilet bowl. The women who maintain their bodies and snap back immediately after birth, still need your love and support while they get to grips with who they are now, even if they don't look any different to you or I. That woman with the enviable quick labour does not equal ease, she's no less of a hero than the woman who spent days in pain waiting to meet her baby. They all did the time. They did their 40 weeks (give or take), they went through it, just like we all did or will do.
Also, being pregnant is not the only journey that creates a mother. The women who use surrogates, the women who adopt, the absolute angels who foster- they’ll all have their struggles. And they’ll be totally different to mine. Their feelings do not invalidate mine either. But they’re still mothers, expecting children. And while we’re on the subject, plenty of women I know who are struggling with IVF and ICSI treatment, and the prep involved have their own concerns, that they air freely. And sometimes, when they fall pregnant, they moan about the pregnancy symptoms. Is this allowed, because their journey was more arduous? Or conversely, not allowed because they should be doubly grateful?
Everyone’s journey to motherhood is different, even those that seem identical. In the same way that everyone’s bodies, births, and babies are different. So stop comparing yourself or others to me.
ADMITTING THAT IT IS NOT A BED OF ROSES DOES NOT MAKE ME UNGRATEFUL
Everything in your body is changing. Hell, everything in your life is changing. Being frightened by it, or ‘moaning’ does nothing to change it. But it can help you adjust to the feelings. Ante and post natal depression have been proven to be eased with the aid of talking them through, out loud. Imagine if pregnant women never aired their concerns to anybody, for fear of upsetting women who long to be mothers, but can’t? In the age of ‘It’s OK not to be OK’, and hundreds of campaigns encouraging men to talk about their emotions, why is it acceptable to ask an entire subsection of society to be silent about theirs?
I WAS ONE OF THESE WOMEN THAT STRUGGLED WITH FERTILITY
As someone who has suffered a long and irritating journey with polycystic ovaries, I was one of these women who worried that they might not conceive. In fact, this journey took more time and work than I would have liked. This was not a one month wham bam thank you ma’am jobby. This was a temperature charting, 5 different cycle tracking apps, peeing on strips daily operation. This was appointments at my GP, hospital visits, scans, lifestyle changes. This was being terrified for the first few weeks of my pregnancy because I know I have struggled with low progesterone in the past, and that is a crucial hormone for maintaining a pregnancy. So no, I’m not being insensitive to those women whose fertility is not as clear cut as she'd like it to be. I was one of them. I’m one of the lucky ones, sure- but let me tell you I moaned then as well. And the other women I confided in who were going through the same thing? They moaned too. Having a sunny disposition is great, but it does not equal fertility.
IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY MY POSTS, THEN SIMPLY UNFOLLOW ME
I am not going to argue with anybody calling me ungrateful. If you don’t like the honesty in my posts, unfollow me. If you find my language crude, unfollow me. If you are struggling with your fertility and would rather not see my instagram feed, unfollow me. I’m not going to police my content for fear of causing offence. There are plenty of women who have enjoyed my honesty, and shared their own concerns and stories with me.
If you see a headline about me that you don’t agree with, don’t read the article. Certainly don’t bother commenting on it. And DEFINITELY don’t then follow me, just so you can attack my directly. If you’re the type of person to sit in the comment section of online tabloids, get a fucking life. Go and spend some time away from your computer- you’re clearly a sad individual.
“But Melissa, I’ve actually been blessed with 2 beautiful children, there’s nothing sad about my life”
Well get off the Daily Fail and spend some time with them then.
“I’m just sticking up for those other women”
Don’t bother. They don’t need you to.
“Your post has offended me”
Sorry, but that is a you problem, not a me problem.
“Your baby is unlucky to have a mother like you”
Fuck off, troll.