I Got Her Pregnant, Now What?

That title is probably going to confuse a lot of people, so to clarify: no, I’m not anybody’s baby-daddy, and I myself am not pregnant, either.

No, I’m talking about getting my character pregnant, which is horrifying enough as it is.

For some reason, I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of making my female characters pregnant. (Same with my male characters, though for slightly different reasons.) I don’t like the idea of turning the women in my stories into brood mares. It makes me feel like the rich, complex person I’ve created is suddenly made redundant, as though every other purpose she could have is overshadowed by her ability to make babies.

This is probably me having a reaction to society at large, and more than likely my feminist streak showing.

I know that ignoring pregnancy and the possibility of pregnancy leaves out a huge aspect of the human experience. I know that for some women it’s a blessing, while for other women it’s a curse. I know that some women will never know that joy, and that some are just as happy without it.

What I don’t know, exactly, is how to deal with the issue without belittling the idea of motherhood while at the same time not making that the character’s single most important characteristic, or doing it just for the sake of a plot point. So of course, I get one of my characters pregnant. And it worries me.

That I feel comfortable making a plot point out of just about any other issue but this one puzzles and intrigues me. Do I not want to deal with is because I’m a guy, or because I’m a guy who, under the right circumstances, could become pregnant? Is it just that I feel weird writing a birthing when I’ve never given birth and the most vivid description I have is my Girl Guide leader saying it’s “like pooping a pineapple?”

Do I even have a point to this post aside from highlighting my discomfort with this issue?

Please, weigh in, and while I don’t usually like doing these things by gender, ladies especially, let me know what you think. I’m sure you have a perspective here that I can’t grasp just yet.

14 Responses to I Got Her Pregnant, Now What?

  1. I have similar difficulties in writing about parenting in general, mothering in particular. I agree that as soon as a person is a parent, all other defining characteristics seem to pale.

    However, I also recognize that it’s a challenge I need to get over, since much of my reluctance had to do with my complete and total lack of interest in children and becoming a parent. It’s always good to challenge oneself as a writer and tackle those things that make us uncomfortable. Just be aware that it might not work immediately though, so pay extra attention in the editing stages.

    • Avatar EricSatchwill
      EricSatchwill says:

      Absolutely. The idea of ‘parenting’ isn’t as foreign as it was before my niece, but it’s still something that has me feeling out of my depth. I have a feeling that I’ll have to ask some of the previously pregnant people I know some interesting questions.

  2. well, as a mom of 4 fuzzy things… wait, no, that is a different post. i’m not a parent either, but i think that it has as much importance/power/weight as you choose it to. it’s like those families on TV that have 6,8,10,19 kids. it’s is what defines them. or the very pregnant lady at the store. what you see first is the pregnant first, and the lady second (or is that just me?).
    or like the actresses on TV. that play a role so well, you don’t know they are pregnant. and then someone mentions it, and you are like, oh yeah. it is very much an after and you don’t even think of it at the time (ie. no importance to what they are doing).
    so as an author you get to decide, how front and center is this pregnancy going to be (does ANY of this make sense?)

    • Avatar EricSatchwill
      EricSatchwill says:

      Sort of. In a ‘damn it, you mean it’s still my decision and you’re not going to make it for me?’ kind of way :P

      But it does give me more to think about in regards to how whatever all else, the reaction will be character-specific. If that makes any sense.

  3. I believe that pregnancy, and the ability to become pregnant, is what makes women powerful. I think that getting your character pregnant doesn’t make them a brood mare, but rather adds to their character. Think of all the different things you can do with it. Her reaction. The father’s reaction. How she deals with the symptoms. Rather than it belittling and ultimately destroying your character, look at it as a way to define your character. Because how she reacts to being pregnant (not the fact that she IS pregnant, but how she REACTS to it…) could very well be her defining moment…

    On a side note: Pooping out a pineapple?? Bwahahahaha…I laughed so hard!! ^^

    • Avatar EricSatchwill
      EricSatchwill says:

      Hehe, yeah, she was an odd one, but one of my favourites, honestly. I’m pretty sure she contributed to my pyromaniacy as well ;)

      Building on the last comment, I think you’re right. It’s a character’s reactions to circumstances that make the character in every other situation, and getting pregnant shouldn’t be any different. It still feels weird though, looking at my characters and going ‘this one’s a girl, so I can make her pregnant if I need to.’ I dunno.

      • lol…You’re talking to the girl whose getting her main character pregnant for the sole purpose of her having to deal with it after the father dies…I think pregnancy (and this applies ONLY to writing…at least I hope…) is a fantastic way to torture or reward your characters, depending on whether it was planned or not, of course. I’m excited to get to that part in my book, but as I’m currently working on my fantasy story, it may be a while…

  4. I can see your worry. When a woman becomes pregnant it can become her life. That baby is the number one thing (and should be.) Having a character get pregnant I imagine would affect the plot because her focus will change to the baby and keeping the baby safe.
    Umm… good luck with that. Sorry if I’m no help.

    • Avatar EricSatchwill
      EricSatchwill says:

      No, that was a help, even if only in reassuring me that I got at least some of it right :) Keeping the baby safe is going to be a challenge later on…

  5. I’ve gotten to a part of my life where everyone I know is getting pregnant, so I almost feel like I’m in a very long workshop on how pregnancy works, psychologically. What’s fascinating is how everyone reacts to things differently. While the pregnancy becomes an overwhelming obsession for some friends, for others it’s just a new facet to their lives/personalities.

    One of the characters in my wip turned out to be pregnant from the get-go, which was a bit of a surprise for me. She thinks of herself first as a scientist, and the physical discomfort of pregnancy is still pretty clinical in her mind–she hasn’t really connected with the idea of an actual human baby, yet. I’m curious to see how she’ll react to giving birth.

    So, I guess my advice is that every woman approaches this differently. It might help to do a lot of character development work to see who your character was *before* getting knocked up, then think about how getting pregnant changes/enhances her original personality. That might help you from focusing too much on their pregnancy as a character trait, because you’re right, no woman is just a pregnant bomb about to pop as soon as you get stuck in the elevator.

    • Avatar EricSatchwill
      EricSatchwill says:

      Oh, wow! I love that last line XD

      Fortunately I had most of this character down already before I even decided she was going to become pregnant. Now I just hope that how she deals with it and how she changes makes sense.

  6. I’m sensing that over-thinking issue popping and and saying ‘ello! It seems simple to me, then again, I have no qualms about adding in any plot point or character quirk is I see storyline potential. From pregnancy to rape to incest to threeways to murder, suicide and various other happenings, it all comes down to “does this add to or create a new storyline?”

    • Avatar EricSatchwill
      EricSatchwill says:

      Hello! And of course I’m over thinking it, I over think everything ;)

      I’ve noticed how well you delve into the gritty/difficult/awkward topics. Maybe I should keep that in mind: WWWVSJD?