I should have known better.
Every time I see the picture and the article I get angry. I usually just walk away (or whatever the internet equivalent of that is) but tonight was different. It was on George Takei’s Facebook page and for some reason that made it worse. See, I love Uncle George. I think he’s funny and smart and kind above all. There have been things that he has posted that he has taken down and apologized for after thinking them through and hearing from fans. And so I thought… maybe…
I was so wrong.
The picture is actually multiple 3D shots of babies in the womb, some supposedly in pain, with a headline about the ‘horrors’ of smoking while pregnant. Now let’s get some things straight before anyone gets the pitchforks out: I do not think that pregnant women should smoke. BUT I also do not think that click bait like that should be used to shame women who do. The study that the article references is not peer reviewed, the pictures are never linked to specific times when the mothers were smoking and the most that the article can say is that babies tend to touch their faces more if the mothers are smokers.
I was a smoker when I got pregnant. I was able to quit pretty much immediately. Not because I’m a better mother than you, or because I have tremendous reserves of willpower or because I love my baby more than you do. It was because I was lucky. The hold that cigarettes had on me was mostly mental – once I was able to prioritize my baby over that cigarette is was easy. My physical addiction level was low.
I know women who weren’t that lucky. I know women who cried through each cigarette they smoked while pregnant, who went to hypnotherapists and regular therapists and support groups. Who tried the gum and replacing it with food and one who cut herself instead of smoking. I don’t love my child any more than any of them. I’m not a better mother than any of them are because I was able to quit.
We don’t recognize pregnant women as human beings. We see them as walking incubators. All of a sudden, the baby is the POINT, your reason for existing. The thing is – that’s not true. Her past informs her present and the mother who is addicted to nicotine may not be able to quit.
Should she have to look at those pictures and imagine her baby screaming in pain inside her? No. Should we be sharing pictures like that, linked to articles that in no way back them up? I don’t think so. And that’s what I said.
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