Parenting forums are a hotbed of emotion, and divided along party lines. There are the SAHMs (stay at home mums), the working mums, the desperately TTC (trying to conceive), and so forth. But these mums do share one attitude: they are almost exclusively pro-baby.
Heaven help the poor woman who falls pregnant and then gets stage fright. The forums don't offer a lot of comfort and companionship. God forbid that you should post such a thing and have it read by a TTC mum.
But really, is resenting one's pregnancy so rare? Or is it just that talking about it has become taboo, in this age of increasing fertility problems?
I'll fess up. I'm one of those mums who got cold feet. Here's my pregnancy story... because maybe you're hating being pregnant, and shocked by the thought of the changes it will bring, and you think you're the only person in the world who's ever felt like that. And that maybe you're some sort of monster.
From the time I realised that I was a girl, and that girls had babies, I did the usual things that little girls do. I thought about how many I'd have, what names I'd use, what they'd look like. Fantasy babies.
High school brought the usual sex education classes, which in those days consisted of learning what to do with a baby if we should happen to find one on a doorstep. Or something. But in the highly academic private school I attended, that all seemed monumentally irrelevant- not just to me, but to my peers. We were fast transforming into Liberated Young Women. The days of fantasy babies were long gone; we wanted, and assumed we would have, a career.
And that's about the point where the two main types of woman I find on the parenting forums start to diverge- the ones whose self-love is based on partner-and-motherhood, and the ones whose self-love is not. Instead the second type of women relies on her work, sexuality, lifestyle and/or activities to create her sense of self.
But the pressure to reproduce is huge. What with parents who want grandchildren, friends' expectations and the irritating but ever-present ticking of the body clock, most of us cave in eventually.
Fast forward to my life as a married woman of 28. My career was going gangbusters. Finally I was teaching the right subject, the right way, in the right school, to the right kids, with the right colleagues. I was writing music which was being performed regularly, even being played on the radio. My students were in the top 10% of the state. I was as happy as the proverbial pig in mud.
Cue comic card from a girlfriend: "Oh my god! I forgot to have children!"
Went off the Pill for three months, and onto a diaphragm. What the hell, if it fails, it fails. (Can you see a certain level of denial in my attitude? My head was firmly wedged in the sand to above the level of my ears. 'CAN'T HEAR YOU, LALALALALA....'.)
Tick, tick, tick...
What the hell. Abandoned the diaphragm too. I probably wouldn't get pregnant for AGES, anyway.
And bingo, with a speed that would make the TTC women cry, it happened.
Happy? I'm meant to be HAPPY?
I cried. I howled. I was completely irrational with grief. Suddenly the fantasy baby out there which I'd been putting off till 'someday' had lodged itself firmly in reality, and I was completely unprepared. I couldn't see any way of reconciling my current way of life with the wailing bundle of uncertainty and need that was about to lob in the middle of my wonderful life. Maybe it was something to do with the onset of Crazy Gestational Hormones, but I couldn't find my way out of my misery.
It's not like I was even sick. I didn't have a single moment of morning sickness. I had the perfect pregnancy. I just Didn't Want Change.
Are you tut-tutting and calling me an ungrateful bitch? Go away. They're my feelings, I own them, and they're not yours to judge. Go AWAY.
The headmistress was obviously shocked when I told her. Not by the fact that I was pregnant and she'd have to replace her most popular and successful teacher for a few months- oh no. She was shocked by me saying 'Hey, it mightn't last, you never know. Early days.' And showing no signs of joy whatever. She didn't have a clue what to say. 'Congratulations' was clearly not received well.
For me, it was a collapse of everything that made me me. All my adult life I had been building the life I wanted. I knew exactly what happened to women who took their foot off the accelerator and had babies, because I'd seen it all around me with other staff. They sank, never to be seen again. I was already drowning.
So what changed things? Here I am, with a son who's become a successful adult and says I was a great mother, caring for little kids still and trying to give other people advice on parenting. How the heck did that happen?
It's a bit like accepting death, really. First you're in denial, then you're angry, then you grieve- and then one day something clicks and you accept, and go with the flow, because you realise that control is an illusion. None of us, really, are in control. And sometimes what happens is a whole new and exciting direction that you couldn't possibly have anticipated.
What made my 'click' happen was a friend's phone call. She's one of those rather psychic types who has predictive dreams. She knew that I had somehow pinned all my last hopes of sanity on having a girl; I'd been working with girls for five years by then, and I thought at least I'd have a head start.
'I hate to tell you this,' she said, 'but I had one of those dreams last night. It's a boy, and he has blonde hair and blue eyes.'
We had a laugh. My husband and I were both dark-eyed and dark-haired. Yeah, right.
But somehow that phone call turned the growth in my uterus into a person.
I started talking to him. 'Okay, you're a boy. What sort of boy are you?'
That's where I get the part of my philosophy that says you have to treat your child as a person, every moment of every day. Not as a chattel. Not as a pet. Not as an inferior. Talking to that baby in an adult way, from the time I realised that another person was there inside me, was the start of our relationship.
And you know, from the time I realised that he was there, I got curious. I got interested. I started to wonder and then to feel what he'd be like. I listened to my intuition, and booked him a place at an academic boys' school. I short-listed names. I talked to him constantly, played music to him, and discovered to my amazement that actually, I couldn't bear the thought of this little person not being wanted.
Surprisingly for such a liberated woman, I became anti-abortion. Not for others- for me. I knew from that moment that I could never delete a child. So no more risks, no more Russian Roulette with birth control. I'd found I could want this child after all, but then it was back to my career- as soon as I could do it without compromising his care. Damn it, I would find a way to fit this small person into my life and still be me, but I knew that another baby would tear me to bits.
And so I started reading obsessively about parenting. Damn it, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it RIGHT. Information is power. I didn't need any nasty surprises.
By the time my 9 months were up and my boy was born, I'd effectively done a parenting course at home. When I snuck a look at the nurses' notes at the end of my hospital bed, they described me as 'an unusually confident mother showing a close relationship with her baby'. Yep, that's the baby I didn't want to be pregnant with.
Oh yes- and by the time he was a few months old it was clear that he had blue eyes and blonde hair.