About 6 months after my FMC has her first child, she becomes pregnant again but doesn't know because she gets kidnapped before she could find out. The antagonist makes sure that she doesn't realize that she got kidnapped or is pregnant by making a copy of her and making her conscious in that body. It isn't until that she is going into labor that it is revealed that she hasn't been herself the whole time. The copy of her is disabled and she wakes up to the main antagonist standing over her telling her what to do during the labor. Now after this is where I got stuck. How she will feel towards the baby at first and how it's going to effect her the rest of the story is where I'm stuck. I already have her having flashbacks and triggers, but what else is a consequence of this? And will she hate the baby at first? Even though it is truly hers and the MMC's second child?
Made me go "Oh, like Amy Pond" and then realized from your pic that you probably know that :)
I think it really depends on your character. If you're willing to do some depressing reading, you can look into women who have kept babies that came from rape (not quite the same thing, but I imagine the trauma of suddenly being in labor with someone dangerous having forced this upon you would be a close approximation to some).
I can imagine its just as truamatizing as rape. And I know my FMC isn't going to get over it, even after a few months. I just want the event to be realistically dealt and not shrugged off but I don't want her hate or blame the baby for it. But I think it wil be best and more in character if she isn't the same after what happened.
I imagine it would be a shock. Yeesh. And probably a source of worry, since she now has to worry about the baby's safety as well as her own. As traumatic as it would be, my mind immediately goes to the practical problems a baby creates.
Since the antag has effectively kidnapped her baby as well, this might be cause for her to hate the antag even more, on the baby's behalf. Or for the antag to get super creepy like "Oh, it's like I'm the father!" Or to lie to her and tell her that he is the father, having raped her while she was unconscious. It would be a lie, but it would be a way to play mind games or as psychological torture. If she believes this, her reaction would definitely be different. If the antag is female, this is still possible, only it would be a case of "I let my henchmen rape you" which is even creepier and more horrible.
Or, he could hold the baby hostage against her good behavior. We're designed to want to take care of babies -- their big adorable eyes, that noise they make when they cry... *shudder* Even if it was a stranger's child, she might feel at least a little sympathetic or protective of it.
If she is unable to nurse the child for whatever reason, it could open the door for an escape when the antag has to find baby formula, diapers, or another person to take care of the baby. Then, the baby becomes the MC's potential way out.
In any case, the baby has just become her new companion in her hostage situation. As a lonely and probably very bored kidnapped person with limited activities, the baby gives her both companionship, something to do, and someone to bond with during a time of trauma. If the antag allows her to keep and care for the baby, then the majority of her time in captivity will be spent with the baby. Based on that situation, I would expect her to develop strong feelings for the baby.
Does she know it's her partner's child? Because were I in her situation, that is deeeefinitely not what I'd suspect, even if I really desperately wanted to. (And relatedly, can she ever prove it?)
Real-life women who've had children in traumatizing circumstances run the gamut from adoring to hating their children (I mean hell, honestly, women who have children in not-that-traumatizing circumstances do the same), so whatever works best for your plot is reasonable for your character. People are complicated and have complicated reactions to complicated situations :P
After the birth she gets sedated but after she wakes up and sees the baby, she finally is able to properly think. It takes a good long while, but she eventually realizes its her partner's child. The antag is actually a woman, and she lets the FMC take care of the baby. But there will be times that the antag takes the baby away just to hurt the FMC. The antag(s) love and feed on pain, so hurting the FMC and the baby is their main goal, in a way. They prefer psychological and mental pain/torture to their victims but go as far as physically hurting their families. They did both to my FMC's eldest child, which has dealt with it for almost 10 years. I just wanted to put the extra info out here if it helps out how it will effect her and the baby.
If the antag is a woman, she could play on the MC's feelings and try to elicit jealousy by acting as the baby's mother. Or by giving the baby a name that she chose, rather than that the MC chose. This could either completely tank when the MC doesn't care about the child at all, or work very well and cause the MC considerable pain. Since the antag exists to cause pain, that might be the route you want to take, meaning that the MC would like the baby.
Story-wise, an MC who has a strong bond with the baby (who is also in danger) creates more tension and risk, and more reason for your MC to care. It probably would give you more to play with than an MC who ignores, hates, or is ambivalent towards the baby. Now the MC doesn't just want to be free; she wants to protect the baby and get out with the child. Having the safety of another person, especially a helpless child, on your shoulders is more nerve-racking and high-stakes storytelling.
I don't know if it would be insta-motherly-love, but it would be more interesting to me if she did care about the baby.
Thanks for the advice. I only have two questions left though. First, do you think I am ruining my FMC or just turning her into a plot device by making her go through a mystical pregnancy?(Which I feel like people will think, when she really isn't one. And neither is the baby.) And second, am I handling the trope the right way so far? If not, how can I make it to where I'm not defining my character by the pregnancy(or her uterus as people who oppose mystical pregnancies say?)
I mean, mystical pregnancy is always going to be a slightly awful trope just because we live in a real world that treats everything about pregnancy in such a screwy way, but in my completely arbitrary opinion (:P) it's not awful in a never-use kind of way. Opining off the top of my head: it's author-awfulness when the trope plays directly into/off of the preexisting ideas that real pregnancy is abnormal/horrific/pathological/disgusting/disempowering/universally-frightening/etc -- and that by extension the ability to become pregnant is itself all of those things also, and people who can become pregnant are those things, and are basically in perpetual danger of having horrific violations happen to them because of it. It's also quite insulting when it happens to otherwise-empowered/major female characters (like Amy, or I think I remember Troi on TNG had a nasty example of this happen to her?) and completely derails all their other plots/powers/etc, but that's at least 70% "why did you destroy everything else about her plot" and only 30% mystical pregnancy itself being problematic.
To a certain extent, because mystical pregnancies are horrific, it's not possible to completely avoid the above. That said, pregnancy isn't always necessarily the opposite of all those things (except abnormal/pathological. it's definitionally a phenomenon that literally everyone has experienced and requires to live :P). To a large extent or maybe entirely, pregnancy can be horrifying/scary/disempowering/etc because of how badly we treat it... but the fact remains that many many people don't have 100% great experiences with it, and that mystical pregnancy, like any good horror trope, is rooted in real-life fear. Much as I want more reasonable, non-threatening depictions of pregnancy in fiction (honestly, "run scream to the hospital now!" bugs me way more than any half-decent mystical pregnancy), I think it'd be silly to act as if it never was terrifying. If you don't use it in a way that feels you're like punishing or hamstringing your female character by exploiting a (fairly, not universally) central aspect of femaleness itself (and nothing suggests to me that you are!), you're avoiding 90% of what makes most mystical pregnancy plots so gross.
tl;dr you're probably fine :D Also, you have a perfect opportunity to mitigate a problematic-but-sorta-true trope, which is to show a similar case that doesn't fall into the nasty stereotypes: was her first pregnancy fine? Happy, even? Voila, pregnancy in the universe of this story isn't invariably awful; only this particular pregnancy is.
And if your plot hinges on this pregnancy (sounds like it does? but maybe just 'cause that's all this thread is about!) then to some extent, she's defined by pregnancy because... well... characters are defined by the plots we see them in. But pregnancy's a fairly major Thing In Life, and often does make for a full plot by itself, and that's the way it goes. And again, it's in some ways better if this is her central plot, just so she doesn't get yanked away from everything else we've been watching her do, like Amy did.
Sorry, didn't realize I had so much to ramble about here!
If she's defined rather by what she does to get out of the kidnapping, and the pregnancy is something that complicates an already dangerous situation, I think it is justified. The fact that she is already a mother dodges the "character suddenly becomes relevant the first time they use their uterus" trope. It also gives a nice opportunity to contrast the first pregnancy and child with the second. If she's already given birth and it was fine and not traumatic, then she would be less likely to associate the pregnancy itself with the trauma she endures by being kidnapped. She isn't just motivated to escape because of this new baby -- she's motivated to escape because of her first child and husband as well as her own interests. That would avoid the "my baby is my sole motivation to live, because I as a person am not worth saving b/c my main function is to bear life and support other life" trope.
Honestly, you sound OK here. If you're worried about it being too abrupt...I know some pregnant people dream about babies. One person I know had eerily accurate dreams, to the point where she predicted the baby's hair and eye color, and everyone said it would be a boy but she was like "Nope, it's a girl like in my dreams" and it was a girl.
Haha, I like your wording of the "relevant the first time they use their uterus" trope. (And fwiw, my mother claims she saw both her children's faces while she was pregnant with us, so :D )
Huzzah, doing the Amy story right! The thing with tropes like this (honestly, with basically every plot about a woman) is that, taken out of context and simplified, it always is possible to point at them and say "problematic!", because everything a woman can do or be can be criticized: either her story's not face-value feminist and that'll get somebody mad, or it is and that'll get somebody else mad because it's not representative and why does every woman need to kick ass etc etc I'm sure you know how this one goes :P Some stories are downright offensive, but all stories will offend someone. Sounds like yours is not headed toward the first category, so woo, pleaseplease fix the Amy plot!
Thats what I'm planning to do. If anyone would've been put in her shoes, they would've been deeply traumatized. We only got to see that once with Amy(which upsets me because Moffat could have done so much more and explored how it changed her character, but he didn't. Really Moffat?) But anyways, I'm not putting her feelings aside and letting her forget it a chapter later. Yes, the trope is bad but how its explored and handled by the character is the important part and thats what I think Moffat and a lot of SciFi writers seem to forget when they use it. I am determined to not make the same mistake as them.
It's ok to ramble and I agree with what your saying. The thing with Amy was that we never got to see the consequences of her pregnancy with Melody and her dealing with the horrifying birth and that really bugged me. I want to explore that territory with my FMC that we could've had with Amy. My FMC's first pregnancy and birh of her first child is just fine and not traumatic in any way. Her captivity and dealing with it takes up the last of the book pretty much and it effects her until the very end, to the point where she shows no mercy to the antag. More than anything, I don't want to upset women and feminist in general with this trope. I wish their would be a, well not a better light towards this trope, but to make people realize its not all "horrifying birth means she only a plot device and nothing else" and "she didn't know she was pregnant, this writer is sexist". That's how I feel like people will react if I use this trope when I'm meaning to use it for reasons that are abstract, not concrete. Now I'm rambling :P