Fitness gurina Jillian Michaels’ rejection of biological motherhood is hardly an assault on the institution of pregnancy though one wouldn’t know it judging by the reaction of the mom-o-sphere. Blog posts extolling the wonders of birthing with your own vagina and the multitude benefits it bestows litter Facebook and choke Twitter feeds. The choices of mothers should not be so lightly dismissed in the digital age.
For the record, Ms. Michaels did not exhort women everywhere to shun conception but stated that for herself, it wasn’t something she wished to do. Her history with weight issues and her career built upon superior physical fitness means she will personally take a pass*.
How her choice – valid by the way – affects mine, or any other woman’s, is a mystery. Women, I have discovered during my tenure as one, are big on choice only up to the point where one of our own exercises her right in a way the rest of us don’t agree with.
Michaels, correctly, points out that pregnancy changes a woman’s body permanently. That she views this as a negative is her prerogative. Frankly, she isn’t really wrong. Even moms who visually seem unaltered by their pregnancies will tell you that there are things that simply aren’t as tight or cooperative or “virgin” as they were prior to motherhood.
It’s disingenuous to say that pregnancy isn’t going to leave a mark. Any time you stretch the lower half of your body to accommodate a small person and then squeeze it out of an opening that normally only just manages to accommodate a … tampon … for example, it’s going to change things. The fact that we are designed to stretch doesn’t take into account that some of our parts only stretch one way.
Ligaments for example are not rubber bands. Once over-stretched, they don’t snap back. Muscle can be trained to compensate for loose ligaments, but the ligaments themselves will never be the same. Skin also has limited amounts of elasticity that diminishes with age and sun damage.
Weight gain seems to be predetermined genetically as is the ability to lose it quickly or not so much at all.
And pregnancy is only the beginning. The first months of motherhood are a blur of sleeplessness and near constant tending of a small person whose sense of time is non-existent and who believes without benefit of reinforcement that the sun revolves around him/her. When sleep is in short supply even things like eating and bathing are haphazard events, so it is the rare new mommy who is getting back to regular work outs or even has the energy to contemplate it.
If I were a single woman whose body was my livelihood, and had a history of weight maintenance problems, I might think long and hard about the colder, harder truths about giving birth and decide not to go there too.
It’s amazing to me how quickly Michaels was called out and her concerns and her decision reduced to selfishness that bordered on a personal affront to women who feel differently from her.
I applaud Michaels for even weighing the issue practically to begin with. Most people don’t give it any thought at all. Baby fever ignites them from within and sets them on a path that sometimes consumes years and vast resources only to deposit them on the other end of the maternal rainbow with a baby but very little idea about what they have done to themselves or their lives in the pursuit of parenthood.
As for her confusion about adoption being some sort of noble undertaking wherein a child is “rescued”, I chalk that up to general misconceptions about adoption in general. Being a “celebrity” doesn’t mean she is immune from misinformation about a process that few people who haven’t been involved in it know anything about anyway.
If people were required to actually apply for the position of mommy, most of us wouldn’t get the job if our motives were put to close scrutiny. For the most part, I doubt that the majority of us could (before we became parents) have come up with anything more profound, less corny or even remotely coherent rationale for wanting to be mothers. Michaels’ “rescue” fantasy isn’t any more or less awful a reason for adopting than a lot of others I have heard.
In the end, this is just another example of why women do not rule the world. We are too easily induced to turn on each other over nothing.
*I wouldn’t be in any hurry to give up a body like that either.