We’ve all been through this experience. Someone you know excitedly announces they or their partner is pregnant, and immediately expects to be congratulated. They’ll even announce this to people they barely know, as if the entire world should petition for a global holiday to mark the momentous occasion. You’d think that they’d achieved something hitherto unknown in the entirety of human history. And people respond with fulsome praise and enthusiasm. It may be a first for the parents-to-be, but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing remarkable. You had sex. Amazing! Nobody ever did that before!
I’ve never understood why people expect to be congratulated for having had sex. That’s what it comes down to, though of course nobody actually mentions the fact that sexual intercourse was involved in the creation of this baby. It’s understandable that we don’t want to refer to the fact that we have a sex life, seeing as we’re making the announcement to our friends, relatives, colleagues and store clerks. Some things are personal, unless you’re a swinger. But there’s something curiously coy about the eradication of any reference to sex from a baby announcement. And it’s even odder that people expect to be lauded as though they’ve done something remarkable.
The fact that sperm met egg and hit it off doesn’t impress me in the least. There are millions of people who had sex at the same time as you and managed not to conceive a baby. I feel rather more inclined to congratulate them for knowing how to use contraception. When the world’s population has shot up from 1 billion to 7 billion in the last 200 years, the effective use of contraception sounds like a really good idea. At this rate, the world’s going to be a bit crowded by the end of this century.
It’s not that I don’t like children. I do. I’m pleased to hear when friends and family are having a much-wanted child. It’s exciting to see them grow up and develop. But it’s the veneration of conception I don’t understand. Don’t expect the rest of the world to get excited, throw baby showers, and volunteer to work Christmas so that you can have time off with the cherubs. It’s no great achievement to shag. The real challenge is to spend the next 20 years turning your offspring into decent human beings. Do that, and I might be impressed.