As Rihanna stood against a Paris balcony in a Marc Jacobs puffer coat and Savage X Fenty briefs, her back facing the courtyard of the Ritz Paris, a tear started to well up in my eye, and I thought, well, this ain’t half bad. If this is what pregnancy is like—me in Paris, nearly naked on a fainting couch, being photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue—I would honestly consider letting the old ball-and-chain knock me up.
And I mean, that’s saying something, considering that just last week I was swearing off the whole “little me” idea—lamenting with friends about how the best part of being a teacher or cool aunty is getting to give the kids back after a whole day of playing with slime and bubbles. I was pretty secure in the fact that I would never be able to incubate a living human for nine months with no escape plan, but now, Rihanna poised in nothing but black Jean Paul Gaultier actually has me dreaming of giving birth to a curly cutie. Now that I think about it, with my genes and my husband’s physique, our kids could be adorable.
My reservations about childhood are not recent, but they grow with every passing day as more headlines proliferate about Black women’s pregnancy complications and childbirth-related death rates. More importantly, as a survivor of trauma who constantly battles with fear and anxiety around bringing children into the world, the idea of raising a little me is kinda triggering. My thoughts on children have always been, I love them, but it just isn’t in the cards for me. Maybe I’d adopt or mentor an older child, but raising one from birth to adulthood never felt like an attractive possibility.
I remember when I first heard that Rihanna was pregnant. I had been in a bubble of work, just catching up with news about her budding relationship with A$AP Rocky, and then BAM, she was pregnant.
As I started to see images of her at events and photo shoots, hustling and bustling with her exposed baby bump, which she adorned in Dior, Gucci, and Versace, I thought, this woman is challenging social norms around pregnancy looks. And while that was empowering, the baby fever still didn’t fully hit me until the Vogue shoot video released today. Maybe it was the 1920's Victorian wainscoting, or the big French doors splayed open at sundown, or the clawed soaking tub, but I was moved by her whole aura.
Cloaked in a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello coat and Messika belly chains, Rihanna said, “I have surrendered to the journey, and I’m accepting it.” And that, right there, hit me. Maybe having a baby could be beautiful, in contrast to the fear-inducing news articles I’ve read lately and friends’ personal pregnancy struggles. Maybe it would shake me to my core and make everything okay.
“I’m waiting for the ball to drop because I’ve heard all these horror stories. But I’m like, ‘I’m having a good time. I’m really enjoying it,’” Rihanna said to Annie. This does not sound like the Michael Myers film I had made pregnancy out to be in my mind! Here, in her Vogue shoot, Rih appears to be cool as the cucumber water I assume they gave her on set.
I am certain that her peace comes from a really good doula, therapist, massive amounts of wealth and an entourage of people waiting on her hand and foot, because I can truly hear a clarity in her voice and firmness in her decision that I long for. “I’m looking forward to being a teacher, but mostly being a student. I think I’m going to be learning way more from this kid than I could ever teach them,” she said.
I certainly don’t have that kind of money or resources, but Rihanna’s pregnancy journey makes me think that maybe I could do this. I, too, would like to be draped in nothing but Chopard while making my choice of dresses, stilettos, and petit four pastries with the Paris cityscape at my back; I, too, would like to chase joy and be both teacher and student for a tiny human while navigating the shitty, beautiful, gorgeous minefield that is life. I dunno, ask me again tomorrow.