"My doctor told me there is nothing you will ever regret about having the baby, but he was like, 'You may regret not having the baby.'"
I am the product of an unplanned, unexpected, and - in the beginning - unwanted pregnancy.
I've known this for, oh, more or less forever. I've also had the suspicion, though not confirmed, that an abortion talk happened somewhere in that early period when my mother was still freaking out and desperately wanting her sporty two door convertible. My parents are both ardently pro-choice, so it would be strange if there weren't the barest minimum of a conversation about it.
This hasn't had much of an impact on my life. At least, not the negative kind. Because even though I am the product of an unplanned, unexpected, and initially unwanted pregnancy, I was (and am) a beloved child. I am also a wanted child, and it has always been easy for me to recognize that the two issues - unwanted pregnancy versus wanted and valued child - are separate and very different.
That doesn't mean, however, that my parents don't have regrets, regrets directly relating to me, and my being born. My mother, for instance, still can't get over her loss of the sporty two door. My impending birth was also the reason she missed the funeral of her favorite aunt, and then I didn't even have the common decency to be born that day. No, I waited until my due date, because I'm generally punctual but not excessively early. I'm pretty sure they regretted having me that time I got a D in English and then burned my report card in an effort to destroy the evidence. I'm also fairly certain the time I didn't come home or call was another one of those "regret ever having her" times in my parents' lives. There were other moments of regret. Trips they couldn't take, money they didn't have, time they no longer had to work on their relationship. And although I know I'm not the center of the universe and that my parents would have in all probability found other things to fight passionately about if I didn't exist, I'm sure there were many times when they were fighting about me one or both of them wondered if their lives - their (potentially not legal) marriage - would have been better off if instead of having sex they just watched some television that fateful night.
This isn't to say that my parents don't take a certain amount of pleasure in being parents. They do. They revel in it. And because my parents weren't ready to be parents, our relationship has a weird, slightly dysfunctional, side to it where we are and have been friends as much as I'm their daughter for most of my life. As a side note, this whole side to my relationship with them is one of the reasons I never rebelled.
So, even though I have a ridiculously good - if dysfunctional - relationship with my parents, even though (Ds in English aside), I have (generally) been a rather low stress venture for both of my parents in terms of parenting, even though my parents love me and respect me and, almost more importantly, really like me, they have still had regrets. Some big, and some small. Some more long term, and some that were more like flashes. Because part of life is regretting the path(s) not taken.
This is why I find the response Kourtney Kardashian recounted her doctor as saying, the one at the top of the post, as being so entirely disingenuous. Because it simplifies life. It makes it seems as though children never cause regret, and as though abortion always does. That isn't true. Children, even wanted, planned for children, come with frustrations and pains and - yes - regret. As much as children bring light and life and joy and love and wonderment and fulfillment, they bring a lot of the negative stuff as well.
More than pushing birth, though, claiming that going through a pregnancy will result in no regrets is harmful because it creates an environment where the women who do experience regret are shamed for that completely natural feeling. It creates an environment where women keep those feelings bottled up, don't talk about it because it is so unnatural, because to talk about it is to be a bad mother. And that is the last thing a doctor should be pressing upon any woman. Because it contributes to a view that motherhood is an inherently pleasurable act, an act all women gain fulfillment from and enjoy doing. An act that in no way at times makes them want to rip their hair out or wonder when they get to go shopping for their own clothing, when they get to take care of themselves and get their two door in the midst of bottles and surly teenagers and mini vans.
We need to recognize that most decisions carry with them a bittersweet realization of the path unchosen. And if that bittersweetness comes when we order a chocolate-mint chocolate chip ice cream cone and then lust after the vanilla-mint chocolate chip ice cream in a cup, then it comes in conjunction with more important decisions. We need to fully recognize the effects of parenthood. We need to talk about them, air out those particular facets of life, and still remain positive that for a lot of people - most people - children are well worth any of the regret they bring. That is an adult conversation. The other one is stuff of fairy tales.