SOCIETY TALK

Fear uncalled-for in pregnancy journey

Why do people scare mothers-to-be with warnings and dreadful stories?

In Summary

• Fears of the worst happening often fail to materialise and should thus be toned down

Pregnant woman lies on the ground
Pregnant woman lies on the ground
Image: PEXELS

I did not take the news of my pregnancy quite like how I expected. For some strange reason, I expected the news to be wrapped up in a cocoon of morning sickness, nausea, dizzy spells and whatever else I was taught to expect with pregnancy.

Even the bestselling book What to Expect When you are Expecting doesn’t warn mothers to hold on for a smooth ride. I found myself sitting across from the doctor, recounting the smooth experience in a worried tone, “Is that okay?”

Is that okay? Yes, the first words out of my mouth when something went completely smoothly was if it was normal for it to be so. I have spent the duration of my pregnancy analysing our perceptions of expectations. How society has always prepped us to expect bad things even if we are swimming in blessings.

I looked back at all the other milestones I had achieved in life and how in each of these moments, I had expected the worst. When I married my husband, I definitely expected to face some sort of resistance since my husband was from a different culture. I did not. When I graduated from university, I started work that following Monday. I did not tarmac or beg for the job. When I moved out on my own for the first time, I moved into the very first house I saw.

Yet in all these milestones, it was ingrained in me to expect the worst, always. I was holding my breath for someone to do something that would ruin my wedding. I had been told over and over again how I would tarmac and go for many interviews before finding a job. I had been warned about the conmen real estate agents and never to trust that their interest is to help.

I cannot stop wondering at how our perception of life is so fickle. We want life to be good to us. We pray every day for good things to happen but when they do, our entire system short-circuits because it expected some form of hardship. Society has trained us to be like boxers: one foot in, one foot out. We might run or we might go in. Arms up in defence stance, we might punch or be punched.

Humans are not born with their own feelings or attitudes towards things; our perceptions are a reflection of the environment that raised us. Have you ever thought of the ominous ‘they’? The unknown ‘they’, the ‘they’ that are supposed to be the wise men because “they say…” or “as the saying goes…” These so-called wise sayings that have been passed down for generations are always indicative of negative things in the midst of good. For instance, take the sayings, all men cheat, after hardship is ease, life is hard… and so on and so forth. All these sayings are embedded in us to expect hardship in every situation we face.

I have to understand that these ‘wise sayings’ were not created to pass down wisdom from the wise men. Rather, they are an exaggeration of experiences by some. If experiences cannot be generalised as different people experience the same situations differently, then why should life lessons be generalised? Why aren’t the ancestors who experienced good things going down in history with their quotes of how great life can be?

I resigned to revel in the bountiful blessings of my pregnancy. I am healthy and the baby is healthy. I didn’t gain weight unnecessarily and that did not reflect the growth of the baby. My skin doesn’t glow and my nose is not wide…

I was finally surrendering to the beauty of accepting all the good without fearing the worst until people around me started to talk once more. Once they realised that their warnings of a painful and tiring pregnancy were nothing but a reflection of their experiences, they proceeded to scare me about the bloody event that is childbirth. It has turned into a never-ending tirade of people projecting their own gruesome experiences on to me.

They mock my naivety and proceed to warn me with an all-knowing smirk that says, “You will see.” Yes, I might experience the pain of childbirth in due course. Child-rearing will be hard, but I will adapt just as the millions of women before me adapted. However, for now, I would just like to relish the beauty of the present.