The definition of femininity varies among women. My interactions with women from various backgrounds have taught me that those who value having children hold the experience of pregnancy as life-changing. As women, we are taught not only by our families but by institutions that our ability to change and adapt is no longer a quality but rather a trait we are born with. Surely, it’s not men who experience what it’s like to carry a child for 9 months or the pain of childbirth. A woman’s ability to take on the role of being a mother is not only physically challenging but also exhaustive on a mental and emotional level — yet she is the sole gender who is able to not only carry the seed of life, but also the only one who can give birth.
When I found out about my pregnancy, I was ecstatic. I was only five weeks pregnant but automatically felt that my life was about to change. When I look back and reflect on that time, I know my feelings surfaced not because I actually felt a tiny being inside of me (it was too early for that) but because everything I had heard about pregnancy would no longer be irrelevant. I was actually about to experience perhaps one of the most profound journeys in a woman’s life. I had always imagined myself being a mother, given that I already felt like I was a second mother to my younger siblings. But I knew that the next nine months of my life would be ever-changing.
I am currently 35 weeks pregnant. I can feel and see the various ways my body has changed in the past 35 weeks. I am aware of how I have grown as not only an individual but as a woman. I doubted my ability to carry out various tasks during pregnancy. Working, blogging, travelling were all things I was ready to give up for nine months. But I realized how much I actually needed these tasks in my life to remind me that pregnancy while challenging, is not an excuse to give up what you love. I knew if I had become comfortable now, I would use my child as an excuse as well — to drift away from things that once mattered. And so, while I haven’t been the most proactive, I still managed to work throughout my first trimester, moved countries during my second trimester and plan out my writing goals in my third trimester.
I believe that the empowerment a woman receives does not necessarily come from what surrounds her but the strength that lies within her. The act of being a woman, for too long has been set by the society around us and although I do not know exactly what it means to act like a woman who is pregnant, I am aware of the challenges pregnant women face when it comes to personal and private life. The way women are expected to tackle challenges at the workplace and at home seem to only be present for women are rarely for me.
Feminity is defined as “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristics of women.”
Pregnancy has taught me that feminity encompasses a woman’s ability to wake up and convince herself that her morning sickness will vanish once she stops thinking about it. That her backache is normal because so what if another human is being created inside of her, she can’t just ignore her daily tasks of completing household chores. Pregnancy has made me sure that it is only a woman who can carry out the task of dismissing her pain so that it doesn’t seem to others that she is complaining because this process is meant to be normal. More than anything else, my pregnancy has embedded a permanent sense of gratitude, *immense gratitude*, for my mother. To give vaginal birth to seven children (without an epidural) is something that I perhaps cannot phantom even now. How effortlessly she completed her pregnancy without anyone ever knowing that she may be feeling sick, tired, exhausted.
Throughout my pregnancy, I have connected with so many women in my social circle, my family and even online blogs. The support is tremendous and available because of the fact that motherhood is a connecting factor between women. Although, our experiences differ and so may our journeys we still go through the one common task of carrying and nurturing our little ones. How we can look out for each other during this time and the education we can pass to one another regarding pregnancy is the knowledge that perhaps we can never receive from men. Developing a sisterhood through the months of pregnancy with women who have gone through the experience of pregnancy has taught me that after all, when women support one another incredible things happen.
I have also come across women through social media platforms who choose not to give birth. The choice of opting out of pregnancy and perhaps the experience of motherhood is entirely a woman’s right. Reading of why women may choose to not become mothers or how the feeling of becoming a mother is lacking in some are things that were foreign to me. But I understand that a woman’s choice to make whichever decision she wishes regarding her body and life must be entirely her own. And while one may disagree with others perceptions, one should never dismiss another’s choice as being wrong.
If a woman is to be defined by her characteristics and attributes then let it be known that it is only a woman who has been granted the power to birth by the Divine because only she possesses the strength and ability to do so. Life is what connects women to each other, the fact that women can nourish a life within her for nine months and still possess the vigour to do it after birth is the ultimate proof that women are incredible. For women, rarely anything is impossible to accomplish.
So, while I wait for my pregnancy to come to an end I just want to say that while pregnancy is far from a bed full of roses, it has to be one of the most exceptional learning experiences I have ever experienced. I know motherhood is going to be no different. I know the challenges are going to be unique. I know that my life will change in a multitude of ways. But I refuse to believe that my life will be any less joyous than it is now or that I will feel any less complete than I do now. I whole-heartedly believe that the blessing which is yet to come will bring glad tidings and glorified luck. What you believe is what ultimately comes true — to believe that the nine months I have endured will lead to something rewarding is the due diligence I can do for myself.