I just heard, for the umpteenth time, the statement, “We’re pregnant!” I gnashed my teeth. I wanted to scream.
WE are not pregnant. SHE is pregnant. HE is expecting. THEY are going to have a baby. She is a pregnant mother-to-be. He is an expectant father.
I am reminded of an old episode of Bewitched—the one in which Darrin claimed to know everything Samantha was experiencing in her first pregnancy. Endora took great offense to his remark (well, when didn’t she take great offense to anything Darrin said?) and decided to place a spell on him so that he would, actually, physically, experience what Samantha was going through.
I think of that episode every time I hear the misbegotten phrase, “We’re pregnant”, and heartily wish that there existed an army of Endoras with no job except that of zapping fathers-to-be with just such a spell.
If “we” are pregnant, then how come he’s not losing his figure? Being awakened throughout the night by a kicking fetus? Why is he not throwing up? Why is he not having to purchase a new wardrobe to accommodate his swelling abdomen? Why are his feet not swelling to three times their former size (and, by the way, never quite returning to their pre-pregnancy proportions, necessitating a farewell to many a beloved pair of shoes). Why are his back and pelvis not in agony as they struggle to carry the extra 40 or so pounds packed onto his abdomen? Why is he not spending hours in painful labor, or having a doctor’s whole hand shoved up his inner parts to check dilation?
While I understand the concept of wanting one’s partner to share in the wondrous creation of a new human life which is occurring, to be appreciated for a (minor) role in having begun that new life, the whole phrase, “We are pregnant” seems to me just one more instance of males trying to lay unwonted claim to a whole lot more than their fair share. Already, most women still relinquish their names (and therefore a personal part of their identity) upon marriage. Their children, even their female children, generally bear the last name of their presumed male parent. (And, let’s talk turkey here: Guys, short of a DNA test, you are always the presumed male parent.)
But, for the love of heaven, do men also have to lay claim to pregnancy, too? And, if they do, should they not have to actually experience labor and birth? Should some tech wiz female not be inventing a sci-fi apparatus that would allow a “We’re pregnant” partner to share in each and every labor pain for eight or ten or twenty hours? To know the exquisitely unpleasant experience of pushing an object the size of a football out of an opening the size of a golf ball? Or perhaps males should be hooked up to that machine following an emergency C-section, so that they know what it is to have been sliced and diced, had multiple organs moved out of the way, and then to be unable to fold in the middle: to have to clamber out of bed by rolling off the side, kneeling and then pushing oneself up by elbows on the mattress, only to attempt caring for a sobbing, soggy newborn after stumbling through the house with a gaping wound from hip to hip.
No, no matter how popular and fashionable the phrase, I simply cannot reconcile myself to ridiculous statement, “We are pregnant”, for “we” are not. She is a pregnant woman, a mother-to-be, someone undergoing the rigors of creating a new human life. He may, perhaps, be a supportive husband or partner, but he is not physically pregnant. Like clueless Darrin, he is physically incapable of understanding her experience. He is an expectant father. And that’s simply all there is to it.