By Tasneem Z Faridi
February 21, 2012
I spent the entire night in self-loathing, remembering all the things my close ones had said to me.
On December 2, 2010 I called my obstetrician/gynecologist’s office only to hear the words:
“Ma’am, you are seven weeks pregnant!”
I couldn’t believe my ears. What the nurse told me seemed impossible. I immediately logged on to Google talk and broke the news to my husband. He wanted to share the news with his family members, but I was still in a state of disbelief and stopped him from spreading the word.
I spent that entire day crying, wrapped under a blanket, until my husband came home. After a few days, he started sharing the ‘good news’ and simultaneously, I started receiving ‘congratulation’ and advice about taking good care of myself for the baby’s sake. Regardless of all the happy buzz around me, deep inside, I was extremely sad to accept the ‘good news’.
I had never planned to get pregnant six months after I graduated, I had spent two and a half years of my newly married life studying for my MA in the US, hoping to see myself with a stable job and a decent earning. Luckily, somehow I had landed a decent job in the third month of my pregnancy and it turned out to be the best euphoric drug to escape from my pregnant body. I started working from January 3, 2011 and pushed back the reality of my pregnancy in the least used corner of my mind.
From then on, I began enjoying every day of work with a co-worker who was also happened to be pregnant. The only difference between us was that she was bursting with joy and I was frequently hiding and sobbing in the corner of my work table, wiping my tears away and popping a candy or cookie into my mouth to sweeten up my prenatal depression.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months until I reached the fourth month, and I was still unable to control my sobs and cries over the unwanted pregnancy. Finally, I gathered the courage to talk to my husband about my unhappiness. To my surprise, I discovered that he was harbouring similar feelings. We both talked for a couple of days and decided to visit a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic. I still remember my counselor’s words:
If killing an unborn baby is a crime, then bringing an unwanted baby into the world is a far bigger crime, because you will not be able to nurture the baby the way his existence deserves to be nurtured.
I absorbed the counselling and with a sceptic heart, made an appointment for vacuum aspiration.
But the night before the appointment, I started developing strange thoughts of falling in love with this unborn baby’s presence in my body.
I spent the entire night in self-loathing, remembering all the things my close ones had said to me. Whenever I talked about my unhappiness to close family members, I was always reminded of being ungrateful about the biggest blessing of all time. They made me think about the pain of the couples who were unable to conceive and reminded me that my status as a woman in the role of a mother, would be a sign of a happy and long-lasting marriage. They scared me with the notion of “what if you are unable to conceive later on, and your husband abandons you for being sterile!”
All these words echoed in my ears and the first thing I did was call the surgical unit of the clinic and cancelled my appointment, even though the nurse told me that the chances of dying from childbirth are far higher than dying during the abortion procedure.
With swollen eyes and a heavy heart, I decided to move on with this unwanted pregnancy, thinking that after maternity leave, I would be able to go back to work. However, to my surprise, in my fifth month my boss suddenly disappeared and we were sent home with some cash and told that the company was no longer in business.
My patched up self-confidence was brutally hit, yet again, and this time I went through inconsolable crying. Amidst all the heartbreak, I still tried applying for a new job until the day my work permit in the US expired. Totally shattered, with no hopes of ever being able to work, I was still hearing from my family members:
It is good you do not have to work anymore you will have more time for your baby’s upbringing.
Once the baby is born, you will not even get time to think about your unemployment.
Once again, days turned into weeks and weeks into months until I was lying on the birthing table. To that day, I had not fallen in love with the fact that I was pregnant! Even his first cry did not melt my stone-cold heart. I pretended to be a happy mother in front of my family and cried in the darkness of the night. I scolded my infant and did not feel attached to his presence in my life.
Now he is a six and a half month old healthy baby boy, and I still think about working some day, in spite of my life being filled with his laughs, dirty diapers and hungry cries. But even if I do get a job opportunity, the earnings are usually far to little to squeeze in daycare because I will always be short of enough professional experience right after my graduation.
I am not advocating abortion or trying to gain my readers’ sympathy. All I am trying to convey is that women need to be cautious and confident with life decisions. Most importantly, we should learn to listen to our mind and body first, rather than what society and family members dictate. The system of the world is not gender-friendly anyway, unless there are enough women in the making of social policies.
As Bertrand Russell said, being humans, we are free to work out our own destiny. The responsibility is ours, and so is the opportunity.
Source: The Express Tribune, Lahore