Pregnant with my first son, I never felt like an expectant mother. To me it was a term that conjured up images of some fat-bellied, smock-wearing hausfrau, sitting in a rocking chair, knitting bootees while waiting to fulfil her feminine calling. I was not that woman. On the contrary, I was merely a human being who happened to be having a baby.
Other women were expectant mothers, obviously. Girls I’d been at school with. The women I saw at the antenatal clinic. My own mother when she’d been waiting to have my brother and me.
“The mother,” wrote Adrienne Rich, “stands for the victim in ourselves, the unfree woman, the martyr.” I knew the type: meek, self-sacrificing, hopelessly feminine. That was not the image I had of myself. I may have been about to embark on raising a child, but I would never allow myself to become one of them.
This was all a decade ago, long before the British Medical Association was to propose that for the sake of inclusivity, healthcare professionals should refer to “pregnant people” rather than “expectant mothers.” Had this taken place back then, I imagine I would have been grateful. I was, after all, a person and I was pregnant. Nothing inaccurate about that.