While I am not from Venezuela, the daughter of a flamboyant telenovela star torn between my ex-fiancé and the father of my child, or even a virgin, I do identify with Jane Villanueva. Amidst police investigations, the appearance of long-lost mothers, multiple murders, love triangles, kidnappings and, of course, being accidentally artificially inseminated, “Jane the Virgin” captures what it’s like to work, go to college, and be pregnant/the mother of a newborn.
1. How everybody has to give their two cents.
Jane’s mother just wants her to make things easier on herself, her grandmother wants her to always do what is moral, her then boyfriend Michael wants her to abort the baby altogether and the baby daddy wants to become a family. I mean, what a headache. Obviously, not everyone has this level of drama, but there are always little jibes like, “I never breastfed and you turned out just fine” and, “Careful not to poke the baby’s head when you’re… you know…”
2. Trying (and failing) to get the father involved in baby preparations.
Jane has issues with Rafael (the baby daddy) when she tries to get him interested in registering for assorted baby gear. He shrugs it off, saying something akin to, “Pick whatever you want,” assuming – falsely – that what women want is the freedom to do what we want. News flash: We can do that without your permission. If we ask, we are asking because we want your opinion.
3. The way everything else takes a backseat to the health and well-being of your child.
Jane makes the decision to miss her own graduation in order to undergo an invasive amnio procedure to reassure herself that her child does not have any heart issues.
4. The desire to retain your pre-baby self.
Jane applies to graduate school, vowing to pursue her goals despite having an infant to take care of. Having a life outside of mommyhood is important for one’s mental wellbeing and, let’s face it, sanity.
5. Embarrassment about the state of your life.
Jane worries about impressions at her high school reunion, which is understandable, pregnant or not. She hadn’t planned for her life to look like this at this point in her life (i.e. popped and unmarried). While, once again, not many can relate to being accidentally artificially inseminated, life happens.
6. Stranger judgment.
Jane runs into a recent mom while shopping at Target and strikes up a conversation that quickly turns south. The new mom asks if Jane plans to wear her baby, and when Jane replies that she hadn’t thought about it, the new mom makes a tsk sound. There is a lot of pressure to have natural childbirth, to breastfeed, to wear your baby and not even in a TV show are women exempt from scrutiny.
7. Accurate portrayal of labor.
While “Jane the Virgin” doesn’t exactly make labor look pleasant, it is much more reasonable than most movies would have it seem. There is no caterwauling, no breaking of the father’s hand, no, “You did this to me!” from between gritted teeth.
8. Feeling out of sync with old friends.
Jane struggles with abandoning her friend Lina now that her son is born. The idea that life does not alter for everyone around us when our baby is born is mind-boggling, but try to remember that not everyone wants to talk for 30 minutes about the little guy’s bowel movements.
9. The rigors of breastfeeding or pumping.
Jane’s son accidentally weans off her and she is forced to pump exclusively, meaning that even though her son eventually learns to sleep through the night she must continue the every three hours pumping schedule in order to maintain her supply. As a result, she is crabby. She is human.
10. Separation anxiety.
Jane struggles with leaving him every time she steps foot out of the house. She can’t even focus completely on her classes because she is too worried about her son back at home.
On top of everything else, Jane struggles with the guilt that accompanies choosing anything over her child. She chooses to go on a writing retreat and miss her son’s doctor’s appointment and is punished by guilt. Certain instincts tell us to stay at home with the baby, but real happiness isn’t always obtained by being a stay-at-home mom.
12. The desire to make it all look effortless.
Along with all of this, is the drive to put on a clean dress, a little mascara and pretend that you aren’t secretly trying to remember if it was bananas or sweet potatoes that made your kid throw up.
13. Feeling like mother knows best.
Jane finds fault in all prospective sitters outside the family, not trusting anyone to take care of her son as well as she can. And let’s be honest, no one knows better than mama, but sometimes you just have to let go of the reigns for a little while and take some time for yourself.
Jane goes through a period of not showering. She has vomit and drool stains covering her shirt and sweatpants and she is wearing a nursing pillow tied around her waist. It’s easy to get stuck in mommy mode. It’s hard to get out of the mindset of, “I need to do some laundry, I’m running out of bibs.”
15. How this moment feels.
One time “Jane the Virgin” didn’t get it right? When she got her pre-baby body back in the blink of an eye (though they did admittedly make a feeble attempt to explain this when they show Jane taking a stroller workout class). It’s so unfair.
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As seen here on Odyssey