By Michelle Lau
Being pregnant almost looks glamorous. If you’re a celebrity, that is. With the advancement of the Internet, we have so many resources at our fingertips but we don’t often have open, honest conversations about sex, pregnancy and all the things that come with it. Look at the recent case in Penang: the commentary on social media and the backlash is… admittedly horrifying.
You have men pressuring women not to use condoms, stigma of judgy pharmacists to get morning after pills + hormone shots are mad expensive. https://t.co/iqBTMopS6Z
— azlyn balqis (@lynfunkstar) April 12, 2017
I’m a millennial mom-to-be, and it hasn’t been easy. I consider myself a reasonably educated, urban woman. I’m nearing the end of the journey (I’m due in a month!) and I’ll clarify a few things before I continue:
- No, it wasn’t planned.
- Yes, I walked into this half-blind and terrified.
- Yes, it was an ‘on-the-go’ learning experience.
- No, that wasn’t particularly fun.
I’m a millennial, and it’s hard. Before you dismiss this as untoward whining, here are some points for you:
Your Body Becomes Everyone’s Business
If I got RM1 for every person that asked me about my pregnancy and tried to give me parenting advice, I could probably buy a high-end stroller. If I got RM1 for every time someone talked behind my back about my pregnancy, I could probably buy a new MacBook Pro. You do the math.
You already get poked and prodded by doctors every two weeks, dealing with super-cold ultrasound gel and having to talk about everything from your diet to your bowel movements. It’s kind of invasive, or would be if I wasn’t already used to doctors. What isn’t cool is how I have some Gen X-ers telling me that I shouldn’t helicopter parent because ‘kids are stronger than they look, so you can’t baby your child’ and my grandparents yelling at me for eating something that they considered off-limits (why did you order it and why is it in front of me, then).
No one ever told me that I’d basically feel like a baby incubator for the last trimester. I mean, edema (feet swelling) is a thing so I had to give up high heels and any of my narrow shoes. I’ve gone up at least two sizes, which affected my self-esteem. People talk about how huge I am, and that does… absolutely nothing for my self-image. You feel like a whale at the end of the day, you alternate between feeling nauseated and ravenously craving food, you’re tired and you’re pissed off. Pregnancy isn’t a walk in the park.
Sure, it’s the miracle of life. It’s also happening inside my body, not theirs. I don’t see how my body is under anyone’s jurisdiction but mine (and the doctor). I’m already worrying about what happens post-baby when the confinement lady comes in. I’m scared of my grandmother, who might contribute to the possibility of post-partum depression by fighting with the confinement lady – these people get super opinionated. I might get cabin fever from being in recovery at home, I also might punch the people who keep trying to restrict my diet.
Social Media Sucks
Unlike a lot of my peers, I chose not to document my pregnancy on social media. The Internet freaks me out at this point.
Celebrity pregnancies are fun to read about, but they’re also responsible for 80% of the anxiety I feel. I mean, they shed the baby weight super fast and they look great during their pregnancies. Look at Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, Amal Clooney and Beyonce. Two of these women are/were carrying twins and they’re more stylish than some non-pregnant women. They make slimming down look effortless, when we know it’s not.
You’ve also got stories on the forums of the ideal birth, the fears and anxieties of what could go wrong and all the dos-and-don’ts of pregnancy. None of these things assuage any fears, and the horror stories we hear from our parents/families are even scarier. You have to wonder: is it okay if I eat this, can I use this product, can I do this? Will doing this hurt my baby? As someone who didn’t live the healthiest lifestyle pre-baby, I kind of want to quit the Internet. At least, I would if I didn’t need it for my job.
Putting yourself out there seems to just invite criticism: some asshole out there is going to have an opinion for the sake of having an opinion, and why would I want that? The hormones make me more sensitive to… everything, and I don’t need unwanted criticism.
Everything Costs A Bomb
You know, our parents always told us how much money they spent on raising us. With today’s inflation, raising a kid on a millennial salary is daunting. Buying a stroller feels like buying a car. Even before the baby is here, you’re looking at an alarming amount of costs:
- Antenatal check ups (minimum RM100+ per visit, every two weeks)
- Antenatal supplements (RM30 – RM100, every month)
- A complete change in diet (increase in protein usually means more leafy greens or red meat. Meat is not cheap)
- Hospital fees (standard birth in a private hospital is around RM7,500, without room fees)
- Buying all the baby stuff (a stroller starts at RM800 and can go up to RM4,000. Factor in costs like diapers, formula, etc.)
Considering the average millennial makes anywhere from RM1,800 to RM2,800 after taxes – how can you expect to adequately rear a child? Then you have people shoving all the blame on the woman, or being angry because a person considers adoption or abortion… it’s unfair. Most millennials need a two-income salary to survive, and adding a third person to the mix is difficult. I’m doing this with additional help and god, I am guilty – but that’s another story altogether.