I was more than thrilled to announce my pregnancy to friends and family. While it was unplanned and more than a surprise, my partner and I weighed our options, discussed our future plans (at length), and realized we were ready and willing and able to be parens. So I knew this announcement was going to be exiting and shocking to, well, everyone. Still, I was more than a little bummed when people started saying "we" were pregnant. We? What? I will never, ever, say "we're" pregnant — not then, and certainly not during any potential pregnancy I may or may not experience in the future — because that's simply not true. I was pregnant. My partner was just supporting the very pregnant person in his life.
Now, I get the reason why people say "we're" pregnant. "We" are probably excited to welcome a baby into the world, and either become a family or expand on it. "We" are probably trying to do all "we" can to help survive those damn pregnancy symptoms, because morning sickness and heartburn and fatigue and swollen limbs are no joke. "We" probably don't want to feel alone but, rather, like "we're" a team, because pregnancy is a huge life-change and can be overwhelming if not downright scary. It's awesome to feel an ever-present sense of solidarity when you're going through something that makes you feel like you're not longer in control of your own body.
However, words matter. To pretend they don't is to outwardly deny the power of language. As a writer who does the whole word thing for a living, it was incredibly upsetting to have people say "we" were pregnant, when I was the only one pregnant in my relationship. My partner wasn't growing another person. My partner wasn't throwing up all day, every day, for almost seven months. My partner wasn't going through evasive tests or changing his diet or struggling to sleep because he could no longer depend on his favorite, go-to sleeping position (RIP laying on my stomach and burying my exhausted face in a comfortable pillow). So, no, I won't be saying "we're" pregnant anytime soon, and here are just a few reasons why:
Because "We're" Not
I get the sentiment, but in every sense of the word it's false. There is only one person in this relationship who is actually pregnant, and pretending that isn't true doesn't really change the fact that it is. Do I wish my partner was a male seahorse, and he could do the baby growing and carrying for "us?" Well, hell yeah. That's not the case, though, so I'm not going to pretend it is.
Because It Diminishes The Work My Body Is Doing
My partner was and is extremely supportive. He was holding my hair and rubbing my back when morning (read: all day) sickness was a thing. He was going to appointments and buying me food at odd hours in the middle of the night. He was rubbing my feet and doing extra work around the house because I had zero energy.
Still, even in the middle of all that support, he wasn't the one growing a baby. To pretend that he was, even if it's in an attempt to feel some sort of solidarity, is to downplay all the work I was doing. My body was throwing up because of extra pregnancy hormones. My body was craving food because it was burning extra calories. My feet were swollen because my body was retaining water. My body was doing a million things to produce a baby, and I don't want to take away from that incredible work.
Because My Partner Doesn't Experience Pregnancy
As a cis male, my partner cannot experience pregnancy. It's, you know, not a thing. I really don't believe in giving someone credit for something they've never experienced or accomplished.
So, just like I can't say I'm the best partner to have when you're pregnant (because I have never been the partner of a pregnant person), my partner can't say he knows what it's like to be pregnant.
Because It Doesn't Actually Take Two People To Make A Baby
Now, this isn't to say men should buck any and all parenting responsibilities simply because they can't physically make children. That's not how it works.
However, it's true: it doesn't take two people to make a baby. It takes two people to fertilize an egg (and sometimes it doesn't, because science is awesome and IVF is a thing) but it takes a woman's body, and a woman's body only, to make a baby. My partner didn't turn that fertilized egg into a human being: I did. My partner didn't transform that fertilized egg into a baby that would kick the inside of my stomach in the middle of the night: I did. I am not about pretending that my partner's body made a baby because, you know, it didn't. My body did, and while it was difficult and uncomfortable and painful and scary, that ability is mine and mine alone.
Because "We" Won't Be Going Through Labor And Delivery
Holding someone's hand or their leg and telling them to breath through something as painful as contractions, is not the same as actually experiencing contractions. Telling someone "you can do it" and "the baby is almost here," isn't the same as pushing a tiny human out of your body.
Nope, not a thing.
Because My Partner Wasn't Being Examined
I wasn't really a fan of pregnancy, so I could write a (rather depressing) list of all the ways in which being "with child" sucks some major ass. However, going to the doctor more frequently than any one human being should — and having said doctor stick their hands you-know-where — is never fun.
It's so difficult to feel like you have anything even close to resembling bodily autonomy when you're pregnant. A tiny little fetus seems to be calling the shots, so having someone violate you in the name of necessary science (I mean, it is necessary, but it's not fun) only adds insult to constant injury.
My partner didn't have to deal with blood draws and cervix checks and everything in between. He still had a sense of complete ownership over his body so, no, "we" were not pregnant.
Because "We" Didn't Have Pregnancy Hormones
Not to say that an expecting parent who isn't pregnant can be emotionally unstable from time-to-time. Parenthood is stressful, no matter how you look at it.
Still, he wasn't inundated with a sea of relentless hormones that can make you feel unapologetically happy and irrationally angry in the span of 3.462 seconds.
Because "We" Didn't Know The Guilt It Felt To Lose A Baby
Originally, I was pregnant with twins. Then, at 19 weeks into my pregnancy, one of my twin son's heart just stopped beating. We were never given an explanation as to why, other than "Sometimes, these things just happen." I had to go through the rest of my pregnancy knowing I had a baby inside my body that was growing, and a baby that wasn't. I knew that when it came time to go into labor, I was going to deliver a baby that was alive, and a baby that wasn't.
While a loss affects everyone involved, not just the person who is pregnant, my partner doesn't know what it's like to feel like it's your fault. The guilt that a pregnant woman feels after a miscarriage or a loss is overwhelming, even if it is misplaced. I could rationally tell myself there was nothing I could do, and doctors could reiterate that undeniable fact, and still, there's a part of me that will always wonder what I did wrong. A part of me will always feel like my body failed. My partner doesn't know what that's like, because my partner didn't have a baby die inside of him.
Because Having Two Different Experiences Doesn't Mean We Weren't There For One Another
I can honestly say I understand the urge to say "we" are pregnant. I get that providing a sense of solidarity and teamwork is important when a woman is pregnant, because it can be an isolating, scary, uncertain experience.
However, it also takes away from the incredible work a woman and her body are doing throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. I will never denounce the support my partner gave me, but I refuse to take away from the work my body did, too.
Saying that I am pregnant but we are going to be welcoming a baby, doesn't take away form the work my partner did throughout my pregnancy and it doesn't make him less of a supportive partner. Instead, it just paints a more accurate picture of what it is to be pregnant. I was pregnant, my partner was supportive, and together we are raising the most amazing son I could have ever hoped for.