Archive | March, 2012

Pregnant and pro-choice

16 Mar

These days, I split my reading time pretty evenly between pregnancy/alternative parenting blogs and feminist publications. It disturbs me how so much of the supposedly “alternative” mama universe is so essentialist. Breast is ALWAYS best, women are NATURALLY nurturers, Attachment Parenting is the ONLY valid child-rearing theory. In the midst of these often polemical discussions, I rarely see these activist mothers declaring themselves to be pro-choice. Perhaps some of them are and just don’t feel the need to mention it. Or maybe many of them aren’t.

Either way, I feel the need to state loudly and unequivocally that I am pro-choice. That translated to so many different issues that affect women. I believe all women should have access to a full spectrum of reproductive health care, including safe and accessible abortions. I don’t think that every woman should want to (or be forced to) carry a child. I believe that life begins when a baby is born and not before. And I believe that women should be able to make choices — alone or with their partner(s) — about how to feed, nurture and care for their children.

I find it unbelievable that contraception has become a polemical issue in the U.S. once again. What year is it, 1958?!? And the recent spate of mandatory ultrasound laws for women seeking abortions is the most condescending, vindictive, woman-hating trend I have seen in contemporary North American politics.

That being said, I would like to present two heroes of the week. The first is Garry Trudeau, veteran creator of the Doonesbury comic strip.This week, has been running a week-long criticism of the Texas mandatory ultrasound/abortion law. Here is just one brilliant piece of it:

And the bravery award should really go to a woman named Carolyn Jones from Texas, who was courageous enough to write about her experience terminating a much-wanted pregnancy, after discovering that the fetus had catastrophic abnormalities. Already facing a gut-wrenching decision, she was forced to shuttle between clinics, undergo a non-consensual ultrasound (where the doctor was forced to describe all of the fetus’ body parts in excruciating detail) and then wait 24 hours before she could terminate her pregnancy. Truly horrifying. My heart goes out to her and my rage over this violation know no boundaries.

In Canada, a Member of Parliament has brought forward a Private Member’s Bill that would seek to establish legal status for fetuses as human beings. These kinds of “slippery slope” laws have led to situations in the U.S. where women have been jailed and charged with murder after having miscarriages or giving birth to babies with disabilities. The group National Advocates for Pregnant Women has been following and fighting all of these cases.

Needless to say, I expect to find myself on Parliament Hill some day soon, sporting an obvious baby bump and a large sign that says “Pregnant and Pro-Choice.” I hope you’ll join me.

Six months!

6 Mar

This is what 24 weeks — or six months (!) pregnant looks on me. Not too shabby. I am grateful to be feeling well and to have picked up this fabulous frock.

The other side

4 Mar

As of Tuesday, I will be 24 weeks pregnant. That’s six months. I am now at a point that I didn’t even allow myself to dream about at the beginning of this pregnancy. My milestones included getting from the first ultrasound to hearing the heartbeat and 12 weeks, and then to the 19 week anatomy scan, and then to when I would finally feel fetal movements. And now all of those things have happened and I appear to be having a totally textbook, uncomplicated, normal pregnancy. It’s actually been quite enjoyable. I feel like I am on an extended vacation. I eat and sleep when I want to. I socialize with friends, but generally in small groups over a good meal. I have been reading novels and daydreaming — generally enjoying this precious quiet time before our lives change forever.

I feel my libido starting to creep back. I am happy about this and hope it continues. It took a good, long time to get over the trauma of constant medical poking and prodding when we were trying to get me pregnant. I thought it was all fine at the time, but now I realize that I wasn’t okay. I was keeping it together, moving from disappointment to disappointment. I hinged my hope on the next attempt and even started to believe that I may have been somehow broken. Who knows what combination of science, fate and circumstance made this pregnancy possible? But right now I am really grateful and feeling more content than I have in years.

At two points this week, it occurred to me that I am now on the other side of that struggle. Of course, I won’t count my blessings till we are holding a healthy baby in our arms, but I am definitely out of the rabbit hole of infertility.

Earlier this week, a co-worker in her late 40s complained that everyone around her seems to be pregnant these days. She had wanted to be a mother desperately, but decided to stop short of IVF a few years ago. It was a painful and difficult decision and one she still struggles with. At first, I found myself irritated and a little offended by her pronouncement. And then I remembered that I felt exactly the same way last summer. It’s hard to see so many fertile people around you when you are struggling so hard with regret and loss.

Yesterday, we spent some time with a newly pregnant friend and her partner. She had been three weeks ahead of me in pregnancy, but found out at her 12-week scan in the fall that the fetus didn’t have a heartbeat. She is now cautiously re-entering pregnancy, having suffered a devastating loss. She is torn between optimism and fear. She is treating early pregnancy much like I did. I remember saying to myself, “Wow, I am pregnant. This may actually lead to a baby.” It seems like a ridiculous sentiment, because generally pregnancy does lead to a baby. But I had been poisoned by so much disappointment and had read too many sad stories to believe that it was actually going to turn out okay. It was a lovely experience to console her yesterday, because my compassion came from a visceral place. If I can take anything from the journey that we began in August 2010, it’s an embodied knowledge of how hard it can be to face multiple losses.

Feeling little kicks and murmurs gives me daily re-assurance that this is a healthy, thriving pregnancy. It’s still cold outside, but the light is beautiful and the days are getting longer. I am filled with optimism for the first time in a long while. It’s delightful to watch Caitlyn get excited about scouting out deals on kid gear, purging our basement and framing art work for the nursery. We still have a ways to go, but we are starting to think of ourselves as future parents. Totally mind-blowing. I feel so very lucky.