As my pregnancy is coming to an end I find myself reflecting on the experiences I have had and the things that I have learned. I cannot cover all of it, so I am picking the top two. First, when you are pregnant, people have no filter towards you. They will comfortably make comments about how you look, what you are doing, what you might potentially do once baby has arrived and sometimes you just have to ignore it. More importantly I learned that not every mention of religion is meant to be insulting. Some people just don’t know how to express themselves without a religious undertone. Miracles, blessings and even prayers can be appreciated by the secular, if the good intent is clear. Here, let me give you a few examples of what I have encountered.
While attending a book sale at our local Half Price Books a man approached me and said “Do you know anyone who is pregnant?” I assumed he was teasing me since the bump was quite obvious at that point. In jest, I replied “nope”. Then he went off on a rant about circumcision. The rights of a man to not be mutilated. The carelessness of parents who choose to risk infection on their sons. I interjected, letting him know that he didn’t have to worry- I am pregnant with a little girl and that I certainly do not condone female genital mutilation. This was not sufficient. He was relentless. Coming at me insisting there is never a valid reason, religious or otherwise. I eventually just had to find Rich and leave. The topic of circumcision is so controversial that many of the internet groups I am involved in (concerning pregnancy) have banned the topic. So having a complete stranger approach me and feel that they could preach their views was surprising. I did not witness him engage anyone else in this type of conversation, but for some reason my baby bump made him feel it was ok to spill his guts on this particularly hot topic.
Another strange situation occurred at a local McDonald’s restaurant. A woman came up to me and made a remark about how I look like I am about to burst (it’s true!) and then touched my belly without asking. I politely backed up at which point she removed her hand and went into a story about her mother’s at home abortion. That’s right, as I was waiting to order my plain chocolate milkshake I had to hear about how good it is that I chose life… that it is sickening when people overstep God and take life into their own hands. The story was disgusting and I won’t go into details, but the overall point was that she was filled with resentment that she could have had a sibling if only her mother had followed God and chose life. I am not sure why I didn’t stop her preaching as I had with the man at the book store, maybe I was just in shock, Once again, someone felt that my pregnancy gave them carte blanch to say anything and everything that they wanted… and once again, I walked away without a fight.
Those examples are extreme and certainly don’t represent a regular day in my 39 weeks 2 days of being pregnant. Overall this has been the most incredible experience of my life. It has taught me so much about myself and at times restored my faith in humanity. One of the most beneficial things I learned was not to sweat the small stuff…specifically tolerance of random acts of religion… seriously, it made my pregnancy much more enjoyable.
For instance, there have been countless moments where strangers and friends alike have referred to Arabella as a “blessing”. I know some of my fellow Atheists would find this insulting, but I do not. For what a “blessing” is meant to represent, it is actually quite a compliment. Whenever someone would say that I would simply agree because to me, becoming pregnant truly is a gift, the only difference is that I don’t believe it is a gift from God… but why split hairs and start a fight when we are just celebrating my beautiful baby girl.
Another moment that religion decided to sneak into my pregnancy came around the time of the baby shower… in the form of Noah’s Ark themed gifts and wrapping. I received at least 3 presents in gift bags with colorful animals on an ark (No Noah) that read something along the lines of “welcome baby”. I also received an adorable gift set that included a first year photo frame, first foot print/hand print frames and a special holder for the birth certificate. They all feature the ark and animal pairs (again, no Noah). I love the gift set and cannot wait to fill it with Arabella’s big moments… and to be clear I find absolutely nothing offensive about it at all.
I have also had people pray for me and the health of my baby. They have prayed for a safe gestation and delivery. I know that they do this out of love and true concern for Arabella and I. Yes, I agree with the secular masses that praying is a useless act that doesn’t really mean anything… to us. To them however it is meaningful and they are just saying “I wish you well” so why start a fight.
There would be a great difference if the person calling Arabella a miracle added that she is a miracle of God and it is our duty to teach her his ways. If the person buying the Noah’s ark gift bag happened to fill it with rosary beads and a bible- this would be a reason to speak up. If the prayers that were being offered were meant to save my soul as well as the baby- asking that we lose our heathen ways and learn to follow God, I would absolutely tell them that they are out of line. None of these examples, or anything remotely close came into play throughout my pregnancy.
I made the choice to embrace this experience all that it had to offer. When someone would mention my blessing or miracle, this just opened the door for me to educate them on exactly what advancements in medical science were able to do for me- how we created “a uterus from nothing”. It has been an amazing ride and I have loved every moment… next stop, the arrival of my daughter.