Fetus Photos

2 May

When is it time to tell the world that you are pregnant?  When does it make sense to start snapping ultrasound pics of your uterus and sending out grainy black and white shots of what appears to be a slightly anemic sea monkey to your friends and family?  A cousin of mine has been taking full advantage of her profession as an ultrasound technician to send out what feels like an almost constant stream of snapshots of her fetus since conception in February.  She is barely three months pregnant, but it feels like her baby (which I’m told will be a boy) should be here already.

And yet, she is barely at the point in her pregnancy where she can even begin to find out whether or not her pregnancy is truly one that will mature into a fully formed human being, independent and capable of surviving outside of her body.  What will she, or any one of the millions of other women who behave in the same way, announcing their children’s existence even before they attend their first prenatal doctor’s visit, if they find out that their pregnancy is not viable?  That their potential children would have no quality of life?  Can she still have an abortion if she has already so publicly and firmly turned her pregnancy, which is a medical condition that she herself has, into a separate human being in her own mind the mind of her friends and family members?

I doubt it.  That is the line that the anti-choice and the pro-choice dance around and use to wound one another.  My body but someone else’s life?  That hardly seems possible.  And yet, the baby-centric culture that we have created, wherein it is somehow bitter or radical for me, a single woman, to defend my right to my own body by belonging to the Abortion Gang, but normal for a pregnant woman to spam her entire e-mail address book with a flood of fetus photos.  Sure, her job as an ultrasound tech means that my cousin is able to scan herself more often than a hairdresser changes her hair color, but she is hardly alone in transforming from a multifaceted woman into an obsessed baby bakery.

I’m not sure whether I find the barrage of baby news and photos so obnoxious because it began upon conception or because of its sheer volume.  It could be because, despite the fact that it is remarkably easy to conceive a child, her behavior indicates that it is somehow a daring or difficult choice.  Yet, I believe, that it is so much more challenging and admirable to make the decision to not have a baby.  To dare to put quality of life above “life,” to make the hard decisions that, unfortunately, no one will be sending you cute little pastel care packages for.  It is so much more difficult to decide to have an abortion, to decide that you cannot have a child now, because, unlike the decision to have a child, there is no one there to pat you on the back, let alone legions of family, friends and acquaintances.  As Mother’s Day approaches, though, if you are one of these courageous women, then please pat yourself on the back.  Whether you have children now or not, know that you decision mattered, and that you deserve to be praised every bit as much as and more than those who decided to carry pregnancies to term.

7 Responses to “Fetus Photos”

  1. Crystal May 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Ok, I know that for some people, the decision not to have children is a difficult and brave one. However, I don’t agree that “it is so much more challenging and admirable to make the decision to not have a baby.”

    It’s the comparison that I really take issue with – is it really valuable to get into an argument about who’s life choices are better? Can’t we just respect and admire people who chose not to have children, as well as respecting and admiring those who choose to? I’m slightly uncomfortable with the tone of this article – it’s slightly disrespectful to a woman who’s only real crime is to be excited about her pregnancy. Sure, I’d find her behaviour irritating too, but I think I’d leave her be to enjoy it.

    I agree that it’s wrongheaded of her to think of her fetus as a separate person, and it’s an interesting point about being a “baby-centric” culture.

    For me, the decision not to have children is very easy indeed. Don’t want them, never have, and all I have to put up with is faint disappointment from my mother, and the occasional irritating “well, you’ve got plenty time to change your mind.”

  2. Thank you May 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Wow, I thought this was going to be a totally different type of article when I saw the headline. I’m glad I read it because I totally agree with the author. I’ve never been pregnant but have been child-free all my life (now age 39). I’ve worked in women’s clinics, counseling patients before abortions and know that no one makes the decision lightly. The baby-crazed culture makes women who choose not to have children feel a bit freakish, but in reality anyone who knows herself well enough to realize that children – however expected of her – aren’t the right choice, is to be commended.

  3. Skulander May 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Yep. Pregnant women can become intolerably annoying and obnoxious when pregnant. Nothing else matters but THEM and their fetus. It’s that sort of toxic thinking that slowly but surely contributes to make very sure women 1) are told that there’s something wrong with them if they don’t get pregnant (for whatever reason) and 2) make sure they do not have any say over their body, no control on the decision-making process, once pregnant.

  4. jc May 8, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Wow. I’ve been reading the blogs on this website for about 6 months, and I have to say that is probably one of the most angry and defensive entries I’ve read. And I agree with much of what Crystal says above.

    Ironically, as a 38 yo woman struggling with infertility, I don’t want to see a continuous stream of fetus photos via email or perhaps on facebook either. But I know that I always have the option to block status updates send emails to my spam folder.

    You should also know that I’m a woman who had an abortion in my early 20s–even with infertility now, I don’t regret the decision. It was the right decision at the time, I’d do it again, and I will continue to defend a woman’s right to choose and have control over the destiny of her body. Including the right to never get pregnant or want children.

    But to think that when/if I finally do get pregnant (most likely with the help of IVF), I should view that desperately longed for pregnancy as only a “medical condition” just comes across as naive and hostile. Will I think of it literally as a fully formed person with separate rights that trump mine? Of course not. That should remain my decision. And no, I also won’t be announcing the pregnancy on FB as soon as I’ve peed on the stick.

    I definitely think you’ve touched on one of the stickiest issues of differing opinons between pro-choice and anti-choice. But why direct the anger at a woman who is excited about her pregnancy? Seems to me the wrong target.

    BTW, it is NOT remarkably easy to get pregnant. For women in their 20s with NO problems, you have a ~20% chance during your 1-2 fertile days each month. I don’t call that particularly easy.

  5. Tess May 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Thank you for that.

  6. Ashley May 16, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    You are a champion. Period.

    I missed Michael Moore speaking at a rally a few months ago because I had to leave early to attend a friend’s baby shower, and holy hell did I ever think my head was going to explode. Although I’m thrilled that she chose to have the baby at a time in her life during which she is ready (she had an abortion years ago, which I’m so proud of her for having done at that point!), the baby shower just compounded for me how obnoxious it is to go crazy over something half the population is capable of.
    How damn many tiny shoes does a creature that can’t walk need? Seriously? How many? People kept saying “Well, it’ll be very exciting when its your sister or you having the baby…” Ummm, no. If I ever end up pregnant, I will not consider myself special or worthy of special treatment. I’m already special because I’m so damn awesome, and I don’t believe I should get special treatment for proving to the world I can do something patently unremarkable. Gag.

  7. Baby-less May 22, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    If your friend is an ultrasound tech, then she should know that having frequent ultrasounds is not safe for the baby. Too much exposure to the radiation can cause problems for the baby. That is why only three ultrasounds are performed during a pregnancy…more than three are performed only if some type of birth defect or problem is detected. It sounds to me like your friend is only thinking of herself and not of the possible harm she could be causing her fetus by subjecting it to a barage of ultrasounds in the first trimester. Don’t be surprised if her kid ends up being born with a pretty serious deformity caused by all that radiation.

    Other than that, I agree with your article 110%. I live in a small town where currently it seems that EVERYONE around me is pregnant…except me. Nearly all of my friends are expecting and it has gotten to the point where I avoid them now because ALL they ever talk about is their pregnancies. I’m just so SICK of it. And what irritates me the most about it is that I desperately want to have a child now (I’m 30), they all know this, and yet they STILL rub their pregnancies in my face!! Does pregnancy suddenly turn women into RUDE attention whores?? They know I’m very sad about not having a baby yet, so don’t you think they would be curteous enough to refrain from talking about their own pregnancies to me NONSTOP?? I know I certainly wouldn’t behave that way to a friend if I knew she was having issues about wanting a baby, but maybe I just have more common sense and manners than my own “friends” do.

    I also had an abortion nearly ten years ago. I’m sorry I had to do it, but I just wasn’t in any position to properly raise a baby as an immature 20 year old college kid. And like you mentioned in the article, I get NO sympathy for my difficult choice..even though my friends know that it wa hard for me and that I hated to do it. In fact, when I have expressed my frustration at not conceiving yet again while being surrounded by women who have succeeded at it, their response to me has actually been “Well that was a choice that you made and you have to live with it now. But you should still be happy for all of us who ARE pregnant.” So what they’re basically telling me is “You made a selfish horrible decision and now your punishment for it is to never have a baby again and watch all of us be happy about our pregnancies and rub it in your face!” AAAARRRGGG!!! You know what, when I finally DO get pregnant again, maybe I will make it a point to act ten times MORE abnoxious about it to all of these people just to give them a dose of their own medicine!! 🙂

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