The pill

Photo via Birth Control Buzz

I dropped off a prescription at the pharmacy today.

I dropped off a little piece of paper in exchange for birth control pills.

They were not for me. I am waaaaaay past the pill age. Way.

The are for my daughter. My teenaged daughter.

It was surreal.

As far as I know (and do we ever really know?) it’s not for controlling a potential birth. It’s to regulate out-of-control female hormones and hopefully alleviate the crushing pain and disabling headaches that have messed up my Girl from the West’s sophomore year of high school.

Still … it’s kind of crazy. I cannot imagine  my mother paying for a ‘script for the pill for me in high school. No way. No how. Hormones be damned. I’m sure I was told to “pray away the pain” or to “lay off the potato chips” or to suffer through “the woman’s curse.”

There is a part of me that feels this is somehow inappropriate? Premature? Asking for trouble? Yet, her friends (with conservative parents!) are also on birth control pills for hormonal reasons. I don’t know. It does open the door for … the possibility of … my Girl from the West becoming my Woman from the West, which just doesn’t sound right at all.  It sounds like a torrid lesbian tumble in the sage.

Her father and I discussed it. We mulled it over. In the end we let a doctor make the final call. I know, I know, doctors and their lucrative relationships with pharmaceutical companies and all that. I hear ya.

Still.

I remember what it was like to be 16. I had a steady boyfriend at 16. I know what goes on, what can happen, how you think you own the world at 16. Stuff like pregnancy and STDs and abortion all are things that happen on ABC After School Specials not to you or your friends. Yet it did happen to some friends. Most were whisked away to “boarding school” for a year or maybe missed a day or two of school for an “appointment.”  I do remember one girl in our class went through senior year pregnant. As she waddled across the stage to accept her diploma her full belly stretched against her navy blue gown. She gave birth shortly afterward to a child who is now 28 years old.

All I know is I have a child old enough to be on birth control pills.

That is a big pill for me to swallow.

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A mother's day

Photo by PedroSimoes7 via Creative Commons

I know a young woman who’s about to give birth.

She is not married.

She made the decision early on to keep the baby and raise it with or without the father.

Some of her family members are not in support of her decision.

They have called her silly, misguided and disillusioned. Not to her face, but to one another. Why? She is not married. According to the family’s faith, babies should not be reared outside of wedlock. Period. In fact, the sin began before the point of conception. She should have remained chaste until her wedding night. That’s the order of things. Their words, not mine.

While I agree that entering motherhood as a single woman cannot be the easy route, I admire her decision to take responsibility.

When her family does things like call her foolhardy,when they do things like boycott her baby shower because “the whole thing is inappropriate,” I ask two questions:

1. Why punish an innocent baby because you hold the mother in judgment?

2. Would you approve of the alternatives: adoption or abortion?

There is no choice once an egg is fertilized and implanted in the uterus but to make a choice. You either go forward and commit, go to an adoption agency, or go to an abortion clinic. Well, I guess there is a fourth option, but I won’t go there in this post.

I know that I would not have been ready to be a mother at 20. I was barely able to wrap my mind around the idea at 29. Once I knew I had a beating heart inside my body, I knew I had to make a choice. I chose to keep my baby and raise it.

Was I married at the time? I was. Does it sound odd that I considered alternatives? Being within the bounds of marriage did not guarantee anything to me. I was not concerned about sinning. Maybe the sin, if you want to entertain that idea, was being careless in a marriage that was on unstable ground. What good to a baby  is a bad marriage? What good to a baby is a father who’s more interested in continuing his college-student lifestyle? What good to a baby is a mother in a low-paying job who has no choice but to relinquish her child to strangers for 8 hours a day? What good to a baby is a marriage where the mother and father fight rather than show love?  The way some people think, a bad marriage with a lazy father and an unprepared mother is far superior to a single mother who is ready, willing and able.

Would this young woman’s family be happier if she’d placed the baby for adoption or elected to abort? These choices keep things tidy for the extended family for sure, but not for the baby or the mother.

Adoption is not a closed door. I have my beautiful baby No. 2 thanks to her birth mother and father. Their pain is my gain. Not a day goes by that I don’t acknowledge that my joy has an emotional price tag. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder when my Girl from the East will ask where her Chinese mother is. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her Chinese mother gazing at the horizon outside her rural village, or at the hazy skyline outside her high-rise apartment,  wondering where in the world her baby girl is now.

Abortion ends a pregnancy but it does not negate its existence. While I have not made the choice to end a pregnancy  — nature did that for me — every January 21st I wonder about the baby that got away, the one that would be 9 years old today, the one I am convinced would have been a boy.  I remain pro-choice, but that experience changed my view on the procedure. One day you are pregnant. The next you are not. You do not go back to who you were before that.  A clean uterus is not a clean slate.

They say she has no idea what’s in store for her. I say even the most prepared woman with an amazing partner, financial security and the means to deal with any contingency can be sucker-punched by the arrival of a baby.

All I see is this young woman filled with optimism and joy over the impending birth of her baby. She has, thankfully, some family members and friends committed to helping her in this transitional period.

Happy Mother’s Day to this young woman and to mothers everywhere, no matter what choice you made in this life.

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Yin and yang of motherhood

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Mary, who runs the whole operation over at the Mama Mary  Show tagged me on this one. It’s the brainchild of another blogger, Her Bad Mother,who is trying to fly this one around the globe. So, I’ll do my part and then pass it on.

Five things I love about motherhood:

  • The bond of love between mother and child (The privilege of being both a biological and adoptive mother makes me appreciate this one immensely. This connection is taken for granted with a child born to you. I had to earn it with Girl from the East, who came to me at 10-1/2 months of age.)
  • Built-in excuse to play like a child (Think: swings, slides, running through the sprinklers)
  • The awesome responsibility of leading by example and leaving a legacy
  • Holidays are so much more fun with children involved.
  • Getting a fresh take on the world around me through my child’s eyes
  • Five things I don’t love about motherhood:

  • Lack of sleep (I don’t call myself a MomZombie because I like movies about the undead.)
  • The stereotypical mom look: overgrown hair, baggy clothes, practical shoes (Despite my best efforts to fight it, often I’m too tired or busy to look my best.)
  • Pregnancy was an interesting experience, but it didn’t clean up after itself. (I’ll never wear a bikini again.)
  • The disconnect of parental bonding during the teenage years.
  • Expectations of perfection: There is so much pressure on mothers from society, from extended family, from the media, from ourselves to do it all perfectly every day.
  • Since I’ve only connected with two bloggers — who are also mothers — in other countries, I’ll tag them and get on with my day.

    In New Zealand: I Love Retro Things

    In Canada: Tanya at I Should Be Napping

    Oh, and by the way, I’m from the United States, specifically, the soon-to-be Third World State of Michigan.

    I'm not buying this story

    I’m steering through the heavy rain in the predawn, listening to radio news, when an item nearly takes me off the road: Woman didn’t know she was pregnant until she gave birth. 

    Check it out for yourself: 

    They even included sound bites from the 911 call in which the dispatcher and the mother discuss cleaning up the infant to clear airways and tie off the umbilical cord. The dad swears it was a huge surprise to everyone. (Side note: They already have three other children.)

    I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. 

    grafik

    I realize some women may not know they are pregnant during the first trimester. I questioned this at one time, but I’ve talked to a few women personally about this who explained to me how this might happen. Some women have medical issues or physical situations that might obscure pregnancy symptoms. 

    But not for nine months. Not three trimesters. This is hard to digest. Impossible to swallow. Even though the medical community says it can happen.

    I’ve been pregnant. I’m one of those hyper-sensitive types who knew I was pregnant in the first month. I just knew. Something was different. Physically and mentally, I felt a huge shift. I knew before I knew.

    By the time my pregnancy was apparent, there was no denying it to anyone, certainly not myself. You might be able to attribute extra pounds to a bad diet. Blame those first butterfly flutters in your abdomen on gas. But by the eighth month, when the fetus is kicking and nearly threatening to tear apart your internal organs, not all the beans in Whole Foods could produce that kind of gas.

    Unless a woman is somehow isolated from society, denied an education or access to any form of information, she knows. At least, she knows something. Even if she thinks she has a massive tumor, eventually it will become obvious to anyone with whom she shares a bed or bathroom. Eventually you might get a bit freaked out about what’s happening to your body and say something.

    Unless it’s a group denial.

    Prove me wrong on this. But I believe any woman who claims a baby popped out of her clear out of the blue is lying or in a state of denial so deep there are psychological underpinnings. 

    Why am I driving off the road on this one?

    Years ago I covered a preliminary hearing in which the defendant, a college-student who lived at home, hid her pregnancy, gave birth in the family bathroom, wrapped up the newborn and tossed it out the bathroom window into a snowdrift. She was caught by her father who heard “suspicious noises” coming from the bathroom. Soon after, the father saw her walking away from the house with a plastic shopping bag in hand.

    Police were called; they intercepted the young woman. Last I heard the baby (who’d now be a teenager) survived. What came out in court, the family’s story, was that no one knew she was pregnant.  It came as a shock to everyone. Their story was hard to believe, but they stood by it.

    Mental illness? Overwhelming fear of consequences and judgment? It’s anyone’s guess the reasons for concealment. This isn’t a new story. Concealment of pregnancy isn’t uncommon in teen pregnancies or in places around the world where the consequences are dire. But ignorance of it in a first-world nation? By a woman who has three children already?

    As the mother of a teen daughter, the possibility of a pregnancy, along with many other pitfalls of the teen years, crouches in the darker corners of my mind. I’m not saying I suspect anything, but the mothers of these girls are always quoted as saying: “We had no idea this was happening.”