Pregnancy and motherhood has often been a secretive, shrouded club that women gained access to only when they had babies of their own. But while plenty of things about this year were terrible, there were some really great things to happen in 2017 too, and one of them was that we started to break down the walls around pregnancy/motherhood and let every woman in. We stood up for one another, listened to one another, and learned from one another—whether we had kids or we didn't—and that's worth celebrating. Here are some of the biggest milestones:
1. Women (and men!) all over the country fought for Planned Parenthood.
Over 5 million people worldwide attended various Women’s Marches that took place after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January. Women (and men! and kids!) participated in order to show unity in the notion that women's rights are human rights—not only for reproductive health of course, but that was a huge focus of the signs and slogans shouted at those events. Part of the conversation around pregnancy involves understanding that being pregnant is a choice that a woman has to be comfortable with, and these rallies were a huge show of support for that idea.
The Big Bang Theory's Melissa Rauch penned an extremely honest open letter detailing what the miscarriage she and her husband experienced with their first pregnancy was really like. "The miscarriage I experienced was one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life," she wrote. "It kick-started a primal depression that lingered in me. The image of our baby on the ultrasound monitor—without movement, without a heartbeat—after we had seen that same little heart healthy and flickering just two weeks prior completely blindsided us and haunts me to this day." Rauch urged any woman who had experienced this loss to know they weren't alone, and eventually other celebrities joined her in a powerful PSA video to reiterate that message.
Breastfeeding is natural, normal, and great for many moms. If you didn't already know that, singer Pink made sure you did when she shared a photo of herself getting her hair and makeup done while feeding her son. The photo proves that not only can she multitask as a new mom, but that breastfeeding is a run-of-the-mill activity and that the stigma surrounding it is outdated and should stop. Sure, this wasn't the first time Pink (or another celebrity) shared photos of themselves while feeding their babies, but each time someone does it's one more chip at the stigma.
Chrissy Teigen has been extremely honest about her fertility struggles since day one. She got pregnant with daughter Luna using IVF, and for that process she had 20 embryos from her fertility treatments. Many people don't realize that not every embryo is viable, and Teigen and her husband, John Legend, soon found out they had only three healthy and usable ones. Teigen explained that "the first little girl didn't work, and then the second is Luna." Now she and John are pregnant with their second baby after using their final frozen embryo. It was a long shot, but it worked, and we're happy for her (and that she was able to squeeze in an IVF lesson for us in the process).
This was a controversial claim, but part of 2017's brave new world is understanding what's true for one mom might not be true for the next and being OK with that. Kim Kardashian, for her part, had two very uncomfortable and complicated pregnancies, which is why she opted for surrogacy for her third baby. However, she revealed that having a surrogate has been a lot harder than she anticipated. "Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong," she said. "I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control. And, you know, obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still…knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not, you know, my baby now, it's hard for me." When it comes to babies there really is no easy way out.
Celebrities might appear to be radiant and happy throughout their entire pregnancies, but pictures don't tell the whole story. And nobody is immune to feeling uncomfortable, either physically or psychologically, especially in a changing body. Alba gets it: "I don’t feel glamorous at all when I'm pregnant," she admitted. "I usually feel sort of like Humpty Dumpty, slothing around and hormonal, and nothing fits the same." Stars really are just like us!
Even Serena Williams, the best athlete in the world, has doubts about her abilities as a mother. And after the birth of her daughter earlier this year, she penned an open letter to her mom, thanking her for everything she has taught her, and was honest about her insecurities. She wrote, "Thank you for being the role model I needed to endure all the hardships that I now regard as a challenges—ones that I enjoy. I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had," she wrote. "Promise me, Mom, that you will continue to help. I'm not sure if I am as meek and strong as you are yet. I hope to get there one day. I love you dearly."
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