Last week I featured a guest post from Early Mama reader Chaunie — recap: she was frustrated about the angry comments on my CNN.com piece toward unplanned pregnancies — and I said I would add my own opinions for Parenting Magazine. So I did.
"There are smart, educated, careful young women who get pregnant. It happened to me, it happened to Chaunie — it happens. And when it comes down to it, does it really matter why?
Yet whether it was an accident, ambivalence, or a careless mistake, it’s always the woman’s fault. She allowed herself to get pregnant. She couldn’t keep her legs closed — as one commenter judged. And instead of expressing compassion and support for this very difficult situation that any sexually active person could wind up in, there’s contempt and shame."
Read the full post at Parenting.com.
Unplanned pregnancy can be terribly, gut-wrenchingly scary, and I wouldn't wish my darkest moments on anyone — even the jerks who turned up their noses and scoffed at my stupidity. How could I allow myself to get pregnant? As if sex doesn't inherently come with a pregnancy risk, even with protection. As if there are certain educated pockets of the population immune to accidents. As if they've never nervously stood in line at the drugstore with a box of Reese's Pieces covering their First Response pregnancy test that, luckily, turned out to be negative.
In retrospect, unplanned pregnancy can be a beautifully unexpected change — not necessarily a life sentence of poverty and government assistance. It's made me a more compassionate and tolerant person with more self-awareness than ever before. Plus, it brought this little boy into our lives...
But it's met with criticism and scowls. A finger wagging in our faces, long before they know our story.
(And we don't all have the same story.)
It's easier to lump people into neat little categories — it makes us feel in control, as people. But to the young woman who recently stared at a positive pregnancy test in disbelief, I don't think you're stupid. Or unworthy of support. Or a lesser person.
I think you're scared and embarrassed. I think you cry a lot — maybe alone in the shower, like I used to. I think you need to feel encouraged and loved, not shamed. I think you need to be told the truth: You'll be happy.
It's one thing to discourage unplanned pregnancies — if only for the health risks and mental turmoil — but once she's with child? Damn, you guys. The rudeness and Holier-Than-Thou judgements are 100% hurtful and 0% productive.
I only wish more people saw the humanity through the stereotype, mustering up compassion before contempt. And maybe before they rolled their eyes or whispered the "guess who got knocked up" news to the hungry-eyed gossiper, they could stop — just for a moment — and think I could be her.
Because they totally could.
And then they'd understand.