Of pregnancy and parasites: My body is mine!

As most of you know, I am currently pregnant. I’m very pleased to be pregnant. The pregnancy was planned and intended from the get-go. There’s just one little thing.

I don’t like sharing my body!

When you’re pregnant, your body is invaded by what is for all intents and purposes a parasite. Here, I’ll define parasite for you:

An organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.

And so, as you can see, I am currently inhabited by a parasite. I’ve voluntarily letting this little parasite feed off of my body – it was my choice to invite it in – but that doesn’t make it any less a parasite, technically speaking. 

I have symptoms such as morning sickness and back pain that I can’t control (I can mitigate them, but that’s it), and my belly is currently swelling daily of its own volition. It’s like I’ve lost control of my own body, surrendering it to this process called “pregnancy.” Using hormones, the fetus leeches antibodies from the rest of my body, leaving my immune system compromised, and even lowers my own cells’ ability to absorb sugar, thus hoarding the sugar for itself.

I miss my figure. I miss being able to eat whatever I choose. I miss my body being only and completely mine.

Growing up, I didn’t realize I would feel this way. I watched my mother go through pregnancy after pregnancy with nothing but smiles, and the same with the other like-minded women in our community. Pregnancy was glorified, and the pregnant woman was seen as in her element. I fully expected to spend ten straight years of my life pregnant, and I had no problem with that. I thought I would enjoy being pregnant, would thrive on it. Michelle Duggar, for example, once said that she feels “empty” when she is not pregnant (I can’t find where I read that, though – sorry!). Somewhere along the line, this changed for me. Not just the wanting 10+ children part, but also the loving being pregnant part.

It’s not that pregnancy doesn’t have its perks – it does – and it’s not that there aren’t plenty of ordinary women who honestly love being pregnant – there are. When you talk to women who have been pregnant some talk about what a beautiful process pregnancy is and how very attached to their essence as women they felt, and how women have great power in their fertility and how wonderful it is that our bodies know automatically what to do. There’s a very earthy, hippie lingo that surrounds this. Others, in contrast, talk about morning sickness and back pain and how very glad they are to have pregnancy over with. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently.

For me it’s not so much the morning sickness or back pain as it is the loss of control over my own body that bothers me. It’s a psychological thing, I think. Part of it is that over time I’ve come to place increased value on my own self-determination and my own self-ownership; I’ve stopped seeing sacrificing myself for others as always good in and of itself and have started placing value on my own individuality. But who knows, maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed being pregnant even if I’d still been in Quiverfull mode.

For whatever reason, the reality is that I simply don’t like sharing my body. I’m looking forward to getting my shape back after this pregnancy, and to no longer having my body inhabited by a little parasite. Don’t get me wrong, I love this potential child already, it’s just that I’d rather him be in my arms than inside of my body. There are lots of things I can share without perturbation. My body is simply not one of them.

Note: And this is all completely besides everything I wrote about in my post last week on My Rights as a Pregnant Woman or the Lack Thereof.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://www.veganatheistblog.wordpress.com veganatheist01

    I don’t mean to go all Grammar Nazi on you, but shouldn’t that be “hoarding the sugar for itself”?
    (The post is very interesting though, really, please don’t kill me…)

  • http://occupyequestria.tumblr.com nekohime

    Hi Libby! Followed you over here from FTB.

    “I miss my body being only and completely mine… There are lots of things I can share without perturbation. My body is simply not one of them.”

    I totally hear you on that, and “selfish” as it is, it’s probably one of the biggest reasons I don’t want any kids.

  • http://www.freeratio.org/ Brian63

    Have you considered adoption? As another idea for a new topic, you can also discuss the idea of adoption in the Quiverfull movement. If more mothers in that movement want more children, how seriously would they consider adoption rather than childbirth? Does Quiverfull have rules against it at all?

    Brian

    • Vyn0900

      Brian,

      At the fundamentalist crazy church in which I grew up, adoption was considered an absolute last resort. Many of the elders and the pastor himself believed in “Sins of the Father” doctrine. Essentially, every sin that may have been committed by your ancestors is attached to you as a newborn and you are then doomed to repeat/continue the pattern. The most common sin was that of “sexual perversion” which, as you might imagine, covered a great many problems. By adopting children, good Christian parents were opening their homes to the genetic sins and associated demons of said child’s past.

      I am adopted; my sister is as well. My parents tried to have children but my mother, apparently, wasn’t “blessed” like the other ladies who always seemed to be pregnant. I heard all about how my parents were really playing with fire by having two adopted children, especially since each of us probably had sexual demons attached to us (after all, women only gave up babies for adoption if they sinned sexually).

      What I never understood was the adoption vs abortion argument in my ex-church. You cannot really believe that abortion is murder and try to make it illegal while also stating that you would never adopt a child due to potential genetic sin.

      I am so glad to be rid of that chapter in my life.

      • Liberated Liberal

        That is one of the most disturbing views on adoption I’ve ever heard. How lucky you had parents who didn’t listen to that garbage.

        I am of the mindset that all those who oppose abortion should be forced to adopt every single unwanted child in this country until there are no orphans left. If that means they have 45 children apiece, so be it. They think it’s a sin to prevent/terminate pregnancies and feel they have a right to control all women’s bodies? Fine. They’re all yours. On top of that, I expect you to finance all the children of families too poor to adequately care for the children they were forced to have. And no money from the government, thank you very much. They fund religions and their institutions enough. Nothing less than that will make me take a word of theirs seriously.

        Ok, maybe I’m being melodramatic, but I take this seriously :D.

      • MadGastronomer

        @Liberated Liberal
        Here’s the thing, too: the ones who do adopt either adopt from African or SE Asian countries (where, disturbingly often, the children’s families are alive and did not give consent for their children to be adopted, and the agency that brought the children to the US lied about it), or they only want to adopt pretty, able-bodied white kids under the age of 2. Children of color, older kids, kids with disabilities, children who were born addicted or with HIV, kids who have been removed from abusive homes: they won’t even consider adopting these children. And pretty healthy white babies up for adoption are hard to find.

      • Reasongal

        Some of the “Pregnancy Crisis Centers” which are actually Ch ristian-run abortion delay tactic centers have been found to be adoption mills, making money from the babies they manipulate the mothers to have. I don’t have a problem with the adoption part, it’s the delay strategy that keeps the mother waiting until abortion isn’t legal and she is stuck, and they have parents lined up and paying for the child, while the mother goes through the pregnancy whether she could deal with her own body and life pregnancy impact or not. I do not know if the centers pay for or provide prenatal care, but I know women have said they were promised emotional help and more, only to be kicked to the curb as soon as they handed the child over. Handmaiden’s tale.

    • Jen

      @Brian: YES! I was thinking the same thing. I wish adoption were as glorified as the parasitism we call pregnancy. Then more people would do it. The Quiverfull people should perhaps consider it along with head examinations.

  • http://carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    I fully expected to feel this way when I got pregnant, but surprisingly I actually loved every minute of it. I’ve never felt so confident in my body than I did those few precious months when my belly was so big I had trouble using public restroom stalls. And, like Michelle Duggar, I feel somewhat empty now that I’m back to flying this body solo.

    But we’ve decided that we won’t have more children than we can afford to put through college, so my one is it. It’s just as well – being pregnant was one thing, but being a mom is really time consuming and I wouldn’t want to cheat my son out of my parenting by having tons more kids!

  • Makoto

    As a guy, I really need to read things like this, and I think others do, too. It just reaffirms my belief that any pregnancy carried to term should be desired, not forced. And I need to continue the fight for women to choose when to become pregnant (contraception) and if contraception fails, when they should choose continue a pregnancy or not (abortion).

    There are so many bodily changes. So many hardships. So many health issues, doctor checkups recommended, dangers in childbirth… women need to be able to say when they are in a good position to have a child, then we all know it’s desired, and will be loved. Not forced by politicians trying to score political points.

  • lane

    I’ve often said I would rather shoot myself in the foot than be pregnant. There is *nothing* that sounds good or fun about pregnancy. It sounds AWFUL as far as I’m concerned. This post completely reaffirms my feelings on the matter… Eesh. Alas that it will probably happen to me at some point.

    • MadGastronomer

      Maybe you can find a doctor who will perform a tubal. I kind of assume you’re young, which makes it very difficult, but they can be found, in some places. Until then, double up on birth control? Good luck!

    • Jen

      I had my tubes tied and I’ve been very happy with that decision.

  • http://www.makingthemomentscount.com/ Amber

    Libby Anne,

    Accepting my feminist side has made pregnancy more difficult. When I left fundamental Christianity to claim my humanistic and atheist personality, I still wanted more children. However, pregnancy is HELL for me. This pregnancy is the first (and last) I had outside of my Christian paradigm. Like you, I have really struggled with giving up my body. I have also felt bitter feelings toward having to choose between pregnancy and working (I get so sick that I am basically hospitalized for the first 16 weeks).

    I think that it’s important for fundamental Christians to recognize that pregnancy is not easy or simple for every women – some love it and for some it’s their version of Hades – and that they need to consider that before spewing the Quiverfull doctrine which can be harmful for many women.

    • Rosa

      I have never in my life been so sick that I simultaneously puked and peed myself, except when pregnant. The constant puking gave me broken blood vessels in my face that will never heal. It looks like the damage from chronic alcoholism.

      I used to think that women who had really difficult pregnancies just gave up the party line about the miracle of birth, but I know now (from reading their blogs) it’s not true – they just suffer over and over and over. I don’t know how they do it.

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

    I absolutely hated being pregnant. Both times it was by far the most horrible experience in my life, from morning sickness to bleeding out on the operating table.

    I love my children more than anything, but I despise being pregnant. And I wish more people could see that it’s *okay* to not love being pregnant.

    But both times, while I was seriously considering suicide due to my level of physical and psychological misery, almost everyone pooh-poohed my concerns, told me I was being melodramatic, and said I should just stop being so negative.

    My younger child just turned 3 and I’m still a little bitter about this ;)

    • FO

      I am a man so I can’t really understand that, but I suffered a lot of psychological problems, and one of the things that hurt me the most was that none but my parents would take me seriously.
      Now I’m taking meds and it’s much better.

      It is very bad when everyone just dismisses your suffering, it leaves you alone in the worst moment.

      • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

        ::nods:: Exactly. At the moment when I needed my community the most, they told me I was being ridiculous and melodramatic. I’m lucky to have survived. Postpartum depression is, um, remarkably unpleasant.

        Fortunately, my parents and sister were great and I had friends online who took me seriously and listened to me.

  • http://jesusisntenough.blogspot.com/ Cheri

    This is exactly how I felt when I was pregnant too. It was an interesting process to watch from a detached point of view, but actually living it was pretty awful sometimes. By the end all I could think was, “I just want my body back!” and after I had my daughter I felt more intensely relieved than I ever had before in my life. I couldn’t stop saying “I’m SO glad that’s over.” Thanks for writing this, it’s important to say that a woman doesn’t have to love being pregnant to be a real and beautiful woman. And if people think that idea is only prevalent in the Quiverfull movement, they should go pick up a popular pregnancy or baby magazine. It’s still everywhere.

  • RQ

    THANK YOU for writing this. More or less how I feel about being pregnant. Although I appreciate (and somewhat admire) those women who truly enjoy BEING pregnant, there is nothing I like better than putting the baby down at the end of the day and knowing that we are separate. Anxiously waiting for that moment, and knowing that it will arrive, helps me get through those days when the discomfort and pain feel nearly unbearable.
    Even with all of that, yes, I do love my children and I don’t hold it against them – but really, they’re just so much better outside the body. :) Good luck with your second and I hope it goes well for you and the wee one.

  • http://elliha.blogspot.com Elin

    I couldn’t agree more about the parasite-part. I hate the feeling of being more or less invaded by someone else despite this being a very wanted and very loved baby even inside the womb.

    I have always wanted children and becoming pregnant at 29 was one of the best moments in life but I have hated being pregnant ever since I started feeling that I was. I have had a good pregnancy, yes, I was sick the first 14 weeks or so and I have had some pelvic and back pain but nothing serious this far one day from entering week 29 but I still hate it. I had no expectation of what I would think about being pregnant so I was pretty shocked that I felt this strongly about it when it started. I have since then had women more or less looking at me like I am crazy when I tell them how much I hate being pregnant or gotten comments that they felt the same way and how ‘forbidden’ this is. I have been open about disliking pregnancy from the start no matter what others think though.

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  • http://dramaticelegance.blogspot.com rachel

    i have had an incredibly difficult pregnancy thus far. broken blood vessels in my eyes from excessive vomiting, headaches, lack of sleep, and entire change in my body.

    and while i have hated every second of these symptoms, i have never hated being pregnant or viewed my baby as a parasite. i view this discomfort as a means to an end. pain to achieve motherhood, to receive my baby, as practice for all the trials and sacrifices that motherhood will bring.

    i am not like others in my life who view their entire lives as nothing more as an offering to Christ at the altar of pregnancy. i am not all aglow with each symptom and seeing nothing wrong with anything. but i am trying to find the best in the pain. =/

    my opinion, only, and i do see your side of things being pregnant myself.

  • Laura

    I’d rather die than be pregnant. Biological reproduction, at least of the human variety, is the most disgusting thing I can think of.

    I hate always feeling like my body is always poised at the ready, eager to sprout a parasite, eager to betray me. I use the best BC there is and yet I can’t trust my own body.

    As a woman I will never feel like that my body will be fully mine until I obliterate my ability to reproduce. And even then, I will worry…

    I hope not to offend the people who have biological children, but I find the whole thing revolting. Thanks for your articulation of part of my antipathy, Libby.

    • Ibis3

      Maybe you should consider getting a hysterectomy or at least a tubal ligation, since you feel so strongly about it.

      • MadGastronomer

        It’s nearly impossible for a woman to get such procedures before 30, and difficult even after that age if she hasn’t had children. Doctors simply refuse to perform the procedure, on the assumption that a woman couldn’t possibly not want children, and will change her mind some day. So it’s not as simple as that.

      • Butchkitties

        What MadGastronomer said. I’ve been trying to get my tubes tied for years, and no one will do it because I’m childless. This is despite the fact that a pregnancy would be a disaster for my health.

        I couldn’t even get an IUD until I was diagnosed with a type of migraine that puts me at risk of ischemic stroke, which meant I *had* to stop using hormonal birth control. (Those same migraines mean it’s an extra good idea that I not get pregnant, as they’re treated with drugs that are FDA pregnancy category D.)

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Wait, why couldn’t you get an IUD? (I’m almost afraid to ask!)

  • Wendy

    I felt much the same. I just love giving birth and breast feeding; sometimes I still grieve to never have those experiences again. I even had a positive co-sleeping experience over many years. But having a person growing inside my body is emotionally complicated and mostly unpleasant to me. *shudder*

  • lorimakesquilts

    Thank you! I hated being pregnant and I totally agree with the parasite thing. My son was and is very much wanted. But pregnancy is horrible. I puked, I couldn’t sleep, the little critter tried to kill me with preeclampsia, I started swelling the day my second trimester started. And the medication for preeclampsia is almost worse than the problem. I had a constant headache that tylenol wouldn’t touch. The headaches lessened after awhile but then my neck was so stiff I could barely move my head — so driving was right out. Anyways, both of us nearly died, it sucked and I will never do it again. Thank goodness for tubal ligation.

  • Jen

    @Butchkitties: I was childfree when I had my ligation. I went to Planned Parenthood and they gave me a list of names of doctors who were not judgmental barfbags, and I went to one and got the ligation without any sort of demeaning lecture.

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