Some would say my first trimester of pregnancy was a breeze. Although I was nauseous constantly, I didn’t vomit. I was tired, but not more than my usual tiredness because of depression and lack of sleep. I was irritable, but I am always irritable. It’s a thing. But by my second trimester, everything went downhill. I was tired all the time, and because my intestines were compacting to make room for my growing uterus, my bowels had turned into bricks. It was a crappy experience (pun intended). That's why this OB-GYN said she never wants to be pregnant: Because pregnancy is horrible.
In a column published Tuesday at SELF, Dr. Leah Torres, a reproductive health specialist, explained why she doesn't want to give birth. For one, Torres sees "why pregnancy is terrible" every day at her OB-GYN practice, she wrote. In fact, many of the people she treats have told her flat out that "pregnancy is a miserable experience" (one patient, who she quotes, told her that "if it were not for that intense desire I have to have children, I would absolutely never do this ever in my life"). There's vomiting, constipation, unstable emotions, and intense body aches. Then there are the hemorrhoids and illness-like symptoms.
"Doesn't sound beautiful and magical to me," Torres wrote.
As someone who's lived through nine months of baby-carrying, I can't say Torres is wrong in her assessment. Pregnancy is hard. It's horrible, even. My favorite book I read during that time, Susan Magee's The Pregnancy Countdown Book, summed it up for me perfectly:
I’m going to tell you something about pregnancy that I wish someone had told me flat out, straight up, and early on: Pregnancy is wonderful, joyful, and miraculous. But it’s also hard work. Yes, pregnancy is hard work.
I don’t know if pregnancy is even “wonderful” or “joyful,” really. Sure, you’re gifted an amazing, beautiful, adorable and hopefully chubby poop factory at the end of the baby’s residency in your belly. The incubation period, though? It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. It’s painful.
I love what my pregnancy meant. I love what my pregnancy represented. I am now a parent to a 2-year-old boy who is curious, determined, hilarious, and a never-ending well of sweetness.
But pregnancy itself? It’s the equivalent of constipation — and constipation is not fun.
I already had an overactive bladder to begin with, but with pregnancy, I swear it was running for its life. I was also in a fight with my legs, which hurt every minute of the day. I couldn't walk up stairs without being winded and my thighs burning. Never mind that the hormonal changes made my depression much harder to manage.
Everything Torres wrote in her column is on point. Pregnancy is a miserable experience — and dangerous too. As Torres cited, research shows that people who are pregnant are at high risk for heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, and seizures, among other conditions. Need more on all possible pregnancy complications? Just read through this list put together by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And despite lies propagated by conservatives, research shows that undergoing an abortion is far safer than pregnancy. A 2012 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that the risk of death associated with child birth was about 14 times higher than the risk of death from abortion. 14 times higher.
But, as Torres noted, conservative politicians across the country continue to pass laws that restrict access to abortion and contraception. In fact, lawmakers have introduced more than 400 anti-abortion bills in the first half of 2016, according to the Guttmacher Institute. They force people to carry pregnancies to term that those pregnant people either don't want or that are dangerous to their health, all in the name of "the unborn child." Yet these are the same elected officials who gut social safety net programs that are necessary in order for families to survive.
These anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws don't only affect people who don't have kids already. They also affect parents like me who may not be prepared for another child. As much as I love being a mother, I am not ready to give my son a younger sibling. And that's not only for financial reasons — my body is not in the shape I need it to be to go through pregnancy again. Plus, I just don't want to.
Whether someone is already a parent or never wants kids, no one should force that person to go through nine months of hell if they don't want to. And, as Torres wrote, no one should be shamed for that decision.