I read this blog on offbeathome and it really resonated with me. In fact, it made me cry a bit. I feel like pregnancy has made me lose my identity.
I’m about 25 weeks pregnant now and have struggled with the loss of identity that pregnancy seems to have brought with it since around the time I found out I was pregnant. I have lost confidence, lost me and lost what I understand it means to be a strong, capable woman.
I am a feminist (as is my husband) and a lot of what I thought I knew about being a feminist has been flipped on it’s head by the act of being pregnant.
What do I mean by that? Well, to me, feminism means being an advocate for women, being able to throw off the constraints of the past 2000+ years of history (as I see them), burn the patriarchy and all that. Since the age of 16 I have largely been independent, making my own money, getting tattooed if I wanted to, staying up drinking until 6am if I felt like it, learning to drive, voting, having casual sex if I felt like it, taking on male dominated sports, taking on male dominated roles and so forth and so on. If someone assumed a woman couldn’t do something i’d pride myself on proving them wrong. I’m pro abortion as I firmly believe that the foetus is not a baby until it’s capable of surviving outside of the womb on it’s own, along with all the rights of the woman coming first, it being her body and her choice to get rid of the cells if she chose to etc. I’m pro sharing maternity leave 50/50, I am pro sharing bills 50/50, I am pro sharing housework 50/50 (still convincing my husband that he should agree with this, but it’s not an anti female stance on his part it’s apathy), essentially I am pro equality.
I also voice my opinions, challenge people I feel need challenging and am active in pushing for change where it’s needed. I have written letters to my local MP about getting the mothers name on the marriage certificate, I did my own mini protest at my wedding by refusing to have my fathers name on the marriage certificate and I refused point blank to take my husbands name – to name just a few examples. So, ye, I’m a feminist.
Being pregnant, moving location and having no job have added to the weight I have felt that is crushing my identity. Not only can I not engage in the activities I used to engage in (various pregnancy related issues have reared up) so I cannot be me physically, I am not bringing in any money via work so I do not feel like I am contributing. No matter that I took on all the handling of the legal paperwork when we got the house or the fact that I dealt with all the setting up of the bills and various accounts. No matter that I moved 50% of the stuff in, set the house up so that it is a home, have done 98% of the cleaning, most of the cooking and 90% of the decorating/fixing/DIY of things. No matter that I have put 50% of the money into the joint account, purchased £100’s worth of things for the property and brought with me close to two thousand £ worth of house stuff from my old home. No matter that I am also growing the baby, attending all the appointments necessary to keep the NHS happy, have purchased 80% of the maturity stuff needed and have done 100% of the research around the birth and pregnancy itself. I still feel that my identity is being crushed due to not having a job, I still feel that I was letting “Team Feminism” down. I am embarrassed to admit I am not working, I can’t enjoy the time off and all because my identity is caught up in having a job.
So, who am I now? Am I still a feminist? What is my identity and why am I struggling with the concept of having time off?
Well, I’m Rae. I’m pregnant. I have no job. I’m rubbish at having time off. I’m rubbish at lack of structure. I’ve failed as a feminist ……… Or am I just very good at beating myself up over imaginary issues? Have I placed way to much emphasis on having a job? If I truly believe in equality then why do I have such an issue with doing the household chores while my husband is at work? If I am really a feminist why am I struggling so much with having the luxury of choice? I can still vote, I can still get drunk until 6am (once the baby is born and weaned), I am still not taking my husbands name, I still act as a voice for women, fight against people who I believe need fighting against and use my skills to help other women. Is having a job really that much of a feminist tag anyway? Do I need to have a job to be a feminist or have I got so caught up in the idea of everything being 50/50 that I have lost sight of the non-financial contributions, which are just as valid, that I am making?
So, from now on I need to look to the positives, look at what I am doing right, enjoy the time off, enjoy the process of being pregnant rather than hating it for getting in the way. I need to realise the value of what I am doing now and not keep looking at the past. Things have changed.
I need to embrace this new life and accept it. I am very lucky to be here, to be pregnant with a healthy baby, to have such a supportive husband, to have such an easy life and I need to stop feeling like having a job is the only thing that defines me as a woman. There is so much more. I just need to get it to settle and feel normal…………….
Find out more about my journey at Tough Girl Challenges – 7 women 7 challenges. Here