Maternity Choices

Being pregnant is something that inevitably presents us with various unique decisions to make. Many of those decisions receive inappropriate questions followed by judgment from others.   When I say decisions I mean life decisions, not which color to paint the baby’s nursery- although I’m sure someone out there would voice their opinion on this as well given the opportunity.

 

Photo courtesy of Adam Selwood

My inspiration for this blog came after reading an article on fitpregnancy.com about Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. On the same day that her new position as President and CEO was announced, Marissa shared with the world that she was pregnant, but more on that in a second…

 

If you are pregnant (if not, consider this a heads-up), you will be asked a series of questions by those close to you as well as those not so close to you (acquaintances and/or complete strangers). And, just so you know, 99% of the time these questions will come in the following order:

 

Photo courtesy of Adam Selwood

You’re pregnant? Congratulations! Was it planned or was it a surprise?

Besides catching me completely off guard, being asked this is pretty hurtful. First of all, asking if the baby was a surprise is basically insinuating that it was a mistake. When did it become okay for people to concern themselves with the personal details of the lives of others? Ouch!

 

Will you breastfeed?

This is always a fun question because if you answer it “correctly,” your response will always be welcomed with an immediate, joyful pat on the back. I always answer this one cautiously by saying “I will try my best.” It’s a question that comes with so much pressure. I found that by answering “yes”- people immediately respond with “good for you! That’s the right choice to make and it’s best for the baby.” Yet, the more I respond this way, the more I feel that I could be setting myself up for disappointment in creating expectations for myself that are too high. What if I am unable to breastfeed for reasons beyond my control- have I failed and deprived my baby? Sometimes it sure feels like it.

 

Will you go back to work after your maternity leave?

Again, this is another question that tends to catch me off guard when it comes from people I barely know. It’s hard to express in writing, but it’s almost comparable to having your pregnant belly rubbed by a stranger - the good intention is there, but it’s still borderline offensive. The thing about this question is that people already have a preconceived notion as to how they want you to respond.

 

Back to Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer, whom I’d made reference to earlier- regarding her maternity leave, Marissa stated, "I like to stay in the rhythm of things. My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I'll work throughout it." First, Yahoo rocks for bringing her on and I can honestly say that I felt proud to know that she wasn’t discriminated against, considering that she is due to have her baby in a few months.

 

Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer

Given the situations and questions that I have encountered recently, I can't help but wonder what kind of questions she has faced and what kind of pressure she has gone through on both a personal and professional level.

 

It makes me wonder what it is about pregnancy that compels people to so passionately express their opinions in a decision that ultimately does not concern them.