This one was in the archives, a post I did not intend to share as if it were new-today writing, but it happened by accident so - so be it. I don't know exactly when it was written, but suffice it to say winter 2006.
In my role as abortion counselor, I sit across from women on a regular basis who shake their heads and say, regarding the prospect of continued pregnancy, "I just can't do it." Recently, I heard this from a twenty-two-year-old* with dark circles under sunken eyes, wiry red hair, and the most abysmal partial set of teeth I've seen in a long time. She has three children as it is, the youngest closing in on two years old. When she recalled dropping out of high school, I saw a flash of pain, but the overriding sentiment was not sadness. It was determination, a will to live, to stake a place in the world beyond conduit and support for other lives. It just welled up in her, straightening her spine, firming her ravaged face. She was sure of her choice. And she was beautiful.
I never knew opting not to have a child could be such a life-affirming experience.
Then I went home and looked in the mirror.
Compared to this woman, it is clear that I've been lucky in life. I'm healthy. I have the privilege of a good education, the luxury of relative financial security. I have no children, and now that my husband's bailed out of our marriage, I don't know if I ever will. But in spite of recent events, including a miserable and desperate year of trying to be and stay pregnant, I have more hope than ever that there is potential for baby making in my life. (Yes, J~ and I have talked about it. But please, people, before you get out the red flags: we've been together two weeks. We know what that means. We're not making any plans.) (Heck, we haven't even "gone all the way" yet!)
It seems strange to draw any parallel at all between myself and that beautiful client, but here it is: These days, Babies or Not has become a choice again. It isn't about setting our jaws in conviction, willing ourselves to be happy and alive, with or without babies (or in her case, in spite of six of them). It's about making the choice that affirms our own aliveness. And for both of us, in this moment anyway, the choice is clear. We're choosing ourselves.
*Details have been changed to protect the privacy of my clients.