Friday, March 14, 2014

Choice and Liberalism

When I learned that I was pregnant I technically had a choice. I legally had a choice. When I saw my flickering bean on the screen, my choice was made. The chips had to fall as they would.

By no means did making the choice make the subsequent actions and the choices easy. In my experience, a child never makes anything easier. Co-parenting with someone who, to put it lightly, dislikes you, is difficult. Even after years, for many of us things don't get much easier, you just have to learn to let go more.

One of the strangest things I've encountered is people who assume that because I am pro-choice, because I worked in a women's clinic for a long time and definitely recommend birth control and the morning after pill, that it's okay to say to me if I ever mention that things are hard, that I had a choice. As if that negates the difficulty, or that I am not allowed to say that it's hard to be a single mother.

"You know you had a choice, right?"

"You chose this life for yourself."

"You didn't have to keep the baby."

I didn't decide to get pregnant. My birth control pills failed me. I'd used them just fine for 12 years, but that one day, there was a failure. I was 21 days pregnant when I went to the doctor to have them tell me what was wrong with me. It turns out that nothing was wrong at all, it was just a major crossroads in my life.

What I did decide to do was to become a mother. A single mother. I knew my child's father wasn't the person I wanted to raise our child with, and that I wasn't the one for him either. I'd watched my parents' relationship and knew I had no desire to replicate that for my son.

I knew that it would be hard to be a mother, but there was really nothing I could've done to prepare myself for just how hard it would really be. I read a lot of books, and talked to people, and tried to do everything I could to prepare.

But, I wasn't prepared to make $100 too much per year to be eligible for WIC. I wasn't prepared to make just enough too much per year to get child care assistance. I wasn't prepared to work full time, take care of my child the rest of my time with no help, and bring home less in my paycheck than my kid's dad was bringing in from unemployment. I wasn't prepared to be trapped in Austin and the contiguous counties. I wasn't prepared to lose almost every friend I'd ever shared with my child's father.

I did the work though, to dig us out, to support us, to make new friends and re-cultivate old ones, to find new work, to make a home for us and it was not easy.

It's gotten easier, as we've gone along, and I have less to complain about and more to be overjoyed about, but I shouldn't have had to feel judged for my decisions about my body. No one should.

Decisions and recovery

During my pregnancy with James, everything with him went perfectly. He hit all his check points throughout, and was even born on his due date. With me, I suffered through the pregnancy.

He brought me joy, quiet moments of fluttering, sturdy kicks that made me dream of my boy kicking a ball in a yard. In the darkest hours of that pregnancy, my son was my lifeline. I was so depressed and alone, the only thing that I could cling to was the hope and promise that he represented to me. I dreamed of him growing into a beautiful strong intelligent and good man. I still dream of the man he will be even as he is my little boy. He is funnier than I ever dreamed he would be and he is constantly surprising me with his multitude of talents and the depth of his feelings and thoughts.

I learned a lot about my body during the pregnancy. I learned a lot about genetics.

The labor and delivery went about as well as could be expected. Thirteen hours of labor, resulting in a perfect beautiful baby boy.

I was told that the problems I had during the pregnancy with James would be worse in any subsequent pregnancies and that it would effect any baby I tried to conceive, possibly even causing miscarriage or stillbirth.

I have two sisters. We have not always gotten along, but I wouldn't trade having them for being an only child. I dreamed that James would have a younger sibling, but the doctors scared me, and my body scared me.

Last year I had a surprise surgery and learned afterward, that I could ameliorate some of the difficulty with another pregnancy through another surgery.

I knew that I wanted James, but not until after he was already a fact, and then nothing in the world could change my mind about him.

I know that I want another baby. Even though I'm afraid of being older, and I worry about how James will react. I worry about the work and the time and the money involved. I also worry about being abandoned again while pregnant, but I know that my partner truly loves me and isn't afraid.

I put off the surgery because I was afraid, partially because no one enjoys going under the knife, partially because I knew and know the recovery will be hard, and partially because it's one of the last things standing between me and another baby.

I know that whatever happens, I will survive and I will not let my family fail or fall. If another baby is meant to be, I will welcome it. If not, that will also be okay. James is enough.

What I have to do now is focus on recovering and getting well and healthy. We have time.