Gayatri G

Pregnancy vs. Motherhood

Disclaimer: I write this from the precarious position of a woman who managed to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby almost the moment I decided I wanted one. Having said that, as a person that has experienced both the circumstances indicated in the title, I also declare myself qualified to ramble forth on both. And why the inability to experience one should not stop one from experiencing the other.

That this conundrum existed in people, was a fact that struck me only when I got pregnant. While interacting on an intimate basis with women – dear friends, valued acquaintances – who couldn’t. And were struggling to. For years. I would safely guess that every one of us knows at least one person in that situation. I know many. And I could never understand why.

Not “why can’t they get pregnant? Why are they so desperate? Why is it so important?” Not even “why are they battering their bodies and making themselves miserable?”. But, “why are they giving up on motherhood just because they cannot get pregnant?”


Pregnancy is a temporary state of affairs. Motherhood is a permanent state of mind. An altered state of life. Forever. When women speak of motherly instincts, and rant about the difficulty in getting pregnant, and the biological clock ticking, I always wonder why they are mixing up issues. They are obsessed with pregnancy – rightfully so; after all, it IS a validation of one’s feminity – but overlooking the reality of motherhood altogether. We ALL know – one doesn’t need to get pregnant in order to become a mother. Everyday there are women – and men – who take up the responsibility, the challenge of parenthood with children not born to them. I am not talking adoption (though I’m heading there). I’m talking social workers, activists, even teachers who care. Just as there is the reality of people who seem to get pregnant far too easily, and offload their duties and rights as parents far too easily on the unsuspecting public.

I have friends who argue that it is about a blood tie. Then what of the parents that abandon their children? Or worse, keep them and abuse them? And if you are incapable of loving people not related to you by blood, what of your spouse? Your closest friends? If one can learn to love their spouse – born to someone else, and having met you after you have gotten halfway through your life without having even known them, is it really so implausible to believe it would be far easier to love a child not related to you by blood? If one can learn to love adults, is it really that difficult to love a child?

This leads me to wonder if it is not simply a matter of ego. From where I am standing, it appears that women would rather batter their bodies and put it through treatments that are meant to defy nature, than to bypass the hormonal mess that is pregnancy or related fertility treatments and find a child to love. I have seen marriages disintegrate, families fall apart and conversations become landmines, all over a uterus’s inability to hold on to an embryo.

Motherhood is not for the faint hearted. It is challenging, frustrating, and fulfilling (though this last one I cannot personally vouch for; not yet). To me it just seems infinitely more efficient to bypass pregnancy and adopt a child. From an extremely shallow perspective – no weight gain, no mood swings, no post partum depression. You get straight to the awesome (and really awful) part – that of being a parent that carries the immense responsibility of bringing up a life to enrich the society in its own way. However a child may enter your life that is the one part that is going to be the same, right?

2 thoughts on “Pregnancy vs. Motherhood

  1. couples usually want a child who was theirs from the very beginning and who is made from the same DNA. adoption is not as simple as “just do it.” it comes with its own challenges, some of which are the same and many that are very different from having a biological child, whether an adoptive parent chooses to acknowledge the differences, they always exist.

    i’m not trying to say that non-biological parents are not as good as parents, just trying to explain that biology does matter. it’s not some unimportant connection.

    the hormones from pregnancy and childbirth facilitate bonding and falling in love with the baby, and the bond you have to a child born from you is very powerful and unlike anything else. it really gets under my skin when people try to separate pregnancy and mothering, because once you’re pregnant, you are a mother. your body attunes itself to that of the infant’s.

    finally, pregnancy is difficult for some women, but not for all. i was healthy and energetic throughout my pregnancy. childbirth is rough, but you recover. i certainly don’t feel like my body was “battered.”

  2. I met a lady just the other week who was in the situation where her body hadn’t been able to hold a child and thus had miscarried three times at the same point. She and her partner had been given reasonable evidence to believe that this might be sorted with a few tests and a few procedures (of which I do not know the details). Two years later with no full-term pregnancy, they applied for adoption. They were turned down from adopting because of the amount they were in debt, a debt that existed purely from their fertility trials.

    Adoption is a much, much more complicated and difficult process than it seems to be portrayed as being. I know, right off the bat, I would never be viable to be an adoptive parent due to my medical history (and lack of funds, but at 25 very few people would have the financial security required) but if I were to concieve normally, there would be no reason for there to be any controversy around me raising that child and if I couldn’t conceive for a number of reasons, I would also be viable for IVF or other fertility procedures. Yet, as stated, I would not be suitable for adoption.

    I think adoption is the hardest route to go down. It requires the highest of standards and the most impeccable of backgrounds and a long period of being observed closely by many different authorities and organisations. It is an extremely daunting process to go through when one hasn’t had the nine-months of bonding and may never be able to access enough records about the child’s parentage to prepare for any genetic health defects. It is also, lets not forget, an extremely selfless and difficult thing to take on a child that is not one’s own and it is understandable that person that has never had to question whether or not they will adopt might not grasp the enormity of this decision.

    Essentially, each alternative route to the conventional conception and birth (even including) carries very different difficulties, heartbreak potentials and scrutiny – both medical and social. I wouldn’t ever think that the choice to adopt a child, in any facet, could ever be seen as an easier route. It is a different one and the difficulties, in this case, would not be physical to the mother, but the scrutiny the potential parents will be held under and the emotional implications of it all are not something that is at all in our nature to feel at one with or readily or easily accept.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s