First of all, I had an unplanned pregnancy when I was 17. I made an appointment for an abortion because I assumed that was the thing to do, but ultimately I ended up having my baby. I was lucky to have a family that didn’t have the means or desire to financially support my child’s upbringing but did support the decision and help out in a variety of ways. My son is literally the accomplishment in which I take the most pride. I have a BA (summa cum laude) and an MA, have 3 healthy cats, have a writing career (even though I never proofread when I comment here and thus look illiterate), have taught college English, and have accomplished a lot of other conventionally great things. Nonetheless, the kid is still the best. He isn’t perfect and neither am I and I still know that I did great work and—in a lot of ways—was able to do better than financially secure, partnered, parents by choice. Seriously.
So, there is the full disclosure of my bias.
I generally don’t like Tracy Moore’s slant on motherhood because it feels (to me) too much like she wants to eat with the cool, child-free kids at lunch, so she presents motherhood as some trial. Yes, it can be, but it isn’t constant, relentless agony. Nonetheless, I think there is validity in her exploring the amount of birth control ambivalence and the way in which it can lead to a a decision that isn’t an awful one. Choosing not to properly prevent pregnancy each and every time you have sex is—in its own way—actually making a choice and that choice can have some intensely wonderful outcomes.
I can recognize the ways in which I had privilege in making my choice, but I can also list the horde of ways I didn’t. For example, people aren’t apt to tell you that you are glowing or engage in any pregnancy cheerleading when you walk around town. Instead, they are apt to tell you about their tax dollars and your use of them. It’s really fun.
But, just because taking a pregnancy to term involves some privileges doesn’t make it the act itself inherently privileged. I take issue with commenters who write: “For most of us, an accidental pregnancy would really fuck us over; physically, financially, and mentally.” If half of all women will have an unplanned pregnancy, then we are saying what? Most of half of all women are physically, financially, and mentally fucked by an unintended pregnancy? Yeah, no.
When accidental pregnancy is forwarded as a life ruiner, we aren’t just jumping behind women who have abortions and the childless to show them we back their decisions. We are also perpetuating the myth that single mothers, teen mothers, and a wide swath of unintended mothers are acting out a foolish endeavor that will crush them and their life choices. Are there bad outcomes for teen moms? Yes. Is there a biological imperative that pushes for teen sex and a lack of birth control availability and sex ed? Yes. So, accept that teens (and even older people) are going to get knocked up until that changes.
For example, Sweden has a great reputation for being progressive and they have very few teen pregnancies. They constantly improve sexual education and access to resources that prevent and terminate pregnancies. But, what they also do is support all mothers/parents. The government offers “prenatal care through free or subsidized courses that help mothers prepare for the delivery, with breathing techniques, coaching sessions and group support. In addition: “Aside from paid leave, the government provides an additional monthly child allowance (barnbidrag) until a child reaches the age of 16.” There are a lot of other family-friendly perks:
From my position, mourning unplanned pregnancies isn’t something that only the privileged can do. In fact, mourning is something people without privilege are apt to do because they lack the resources and agency to make firm, decisive choices about their reproductive health. Further, if we mourn the absence of unplanned pregnancies and treat them as something that isn’t inherently evil, then we can start to be supportive of the women who choose to proceed with them. As long as an unplanned pregnancy is treated like a life-ender, the longer we hold up an ideal of motherhood that few, if any, women can achieve.
TL;DR: As long as there is room to mourn unplanned pregnancies, there is room to celebrate them as well.