I never wanted to be someone’s mother. In fact, until a few years ago, the very thought of pregnancy made me collapse with anxious dry-heaves. I was happy to have my dogs and to enjoy my niece and nephew. But giving birth and having babies myself straight up grossed me out and made me panic. Until I changed my mind.
Not having children was working out quite well for me and my partner. We traveled. We took long walks with our dogs. We stayed out late. We took road trips and moved across the country. Not having children was a valid, highly personal choice. And of course it was a choice we were privileged to make due to the availability of reliable birth control and the education on how to use it. Once my partner finished grad school, we truly became DINKs (dual-income, no kids) and lived a relatively stress-free life. Everything was going swimmingly until I started experiencing horrible pelvic pain in 2005. Never a light-flow lady, my period became a torrent; like a mountain stream in spring, if you want a visual. Months and multiple doctors later, I found out it wasn’t cancer (yay!) but that it was endometriosis (boo).
You’d think I’d have been glad. I mean, endometriosis often plays a part in infertility. And if I didn’t want babies, wouldn’t I be happy to be infertile? But this diagnosis set off a biological timebomb (not just a clock). When I thought I couldn’t have a baby, suddenly that was the only thing I could think about. Suddenly, every baby everywhere was looking at me. And they weren’t screaming. They were smiling. They were daring me to do it. And I think some of them were mocking me.
Through multiple surgeries, a few years of trying and 54 hours of labor, my son arrived blue and grimacing. We were thrilled, even when he was a jerk. So, what’s my point? I’m really just talking about choice.
Until my anatomy decided it might make the choice for me – and potentially decide it wasn’t possible – I didn’t want to procreate. But once that choice seemed like it might be taken away from me, I became focused on what I might be unable to achieve. You can’t tell me what to do, ladyparts.
See, that’s the thing about choice. We’re happiest and most healthy when we preserve all options. Having choices is about more than access to abortion. It’s about comprehensive women’s health care. It’s about access to medical care that preserves our bodies’ abilities to have children or respects our plan not to have children. It’s about treating us as whole people who need medical care for all our parts for all reasons. It’s about respecting our decisions and enabling us to change our minds.