11.05.2011

Summer LeBel guest blogs: My uterus belongs to me, thanks

For those of you who don't know me, I got pregnant when I was 16. My now-husband and I kept the baby, stayed together, and got married a few years out of high school. We’re both currently 21-year-old students with part time jobs.

Almost every day, someone asks me when we next plan to have children. It’s not just random people, though. I could handle people I don’t know doing it, but it’s members of my family most of the time.
This started right after we got married. At the wedding, many of the guests were coming up to me during the reception and the conversation was a variation on:

“Congratulations!”

“Thank you!”

“So, when are you having another little one?”

I tried to answer politely at the beginning, but by the end of the night, I was pretty frustrated. Could I not enjoy being married for one day without the pressure of more kids?

It’s now continued to get worse and worse. Family events are the worst of them all, because it’s a giant room full of people who are way too interested in my reproductive decisions.

It’s progressed beyond asking and turned into demanding lately.

I’m lucky in the fact that all of my grandparents are young (for being great-grandparents to a 4-year-old) and in good health, but yet I keep hearing things like “You need to hurry up or I’ll never see any more of my great-grandchildren.” Excuse me, go bother one of my cousins then. They are all just as capable, though since I am the oldest on every side of my family, I can see why the “responsibility” seems to fall to me. Side note: Because my cousins, who are all younger than me, aren’t in long term relationships or settling down, some of my grandparents have started to refer to me as “the good one.” I snapped at Thanksgiving, asking them to leave my poor cousins alone and reminding them, “I’m hardly the good one. Do you not remember that I got pregnant at 16?”

The best part is that lately I’ve been told by several people, “If you don’t hurry up, you’re going to get too old and not be able to have kids anymore.” Excuse me, but I am 21 years old. I could literally wait until my son graduates high school, which he will do when I am 35, and it would not be out of the question for me to have another kid then. Trying to explain that falls on deaf ears, though.

I try to explain the first several times a person asks that we’re waiting until my husband is done with college and gets a full time job so that we can have both a steady income and medical insurance. The amount of people that scoff at me when I say this frightens me. It’s like, I did this the “wrong way” once already. Can I please just be allowed to make the adult, appropriate decision to wait until our finances and lives are stable enough to support another child? Since when did that become a bad thing?
The biggest thing to me, though, is the sense of entitlement to my uterus. You don’t have the right to tell me to have more kids or annoy me about it. We do want to have another one, but weren’t sure for a while. When I answered that we weren’t sure at the time, I was met with people telling me I had to. No, I don’t have to. We can do whatever we choose, because it’s our decision and my uterus. If I want no kids or 5 kids, that’s up to me, as is the time frame in which we decide to do so.

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