Monday, May 01, 2006

Infertile Abortion Counselor

People ask me if it was difficult for me chaperoning women through the termination of unwanted pregnancies while I was struggling to achieve a healthy wanted pregnancy of my own. After all, I started the job unwittingly pregnant after nine months of infertility, and then discovered I was miscarrying while at work two months later.

Was I jealous of my clients? Did I resent them? I wasn't and I didn't.

We were two sides of the same coin: women facing the bare and difficult truth of our fertility, or in my case, lack thereof. In fact, being among these women was a constant reminder of the awesome privilege I experienced by being at a point in my life where I could welcome a pregnancy.

Also, I felt another kind of kinship with the women I counseled. I had been in their shoes once, and had struggled long and hard to come to peace with my decision, to recognize that there was no wrong or right choice, but instead two difficult roads which both deserve deep and careful consideration. Grieving the road not taken, if it ever held any appeal at all, however fleeting, is inevitable.

It felt good to be able to offer my hard-won perspective. It seemed that I might be helping to spare some of these women from painful self-recrimination down the line, and that was extremely gratifying.

This isn't to say that the job wasn't difficult. It was redundant and boring repeating the same information about what the procedure entails and how to take care of yourself after, filling out the same paperwork over and over. It was depressing when someone slipped through my fingers who seemed to require a kind of help I didn't know how to or was unable to give. Mostly this was due to time constraints and the once-and-fast nature of the kind of counseling I was doing. Sometimes it was because I simply didn't have the backbone of knowledge to readily provide resources for housing, financial aid or long-term emotional counseling, etc. The necessary resources don't always exist, either. And often, when I was unable to meet a woman's need, it was because I was human, and flawed, and learning as I went along.

There came a point where I knew that to continue to feel good about being an abortion counselor, I would need to take it to the next level, to really dive into acquiring more knowledge, into being at a clinic full-time, perhaps even return to school for a clinical counseling degree.

Or else it was time to move on.

When I took the job, I never thought I'd consider making abortion counseling my life's work, so the fact that I even thought about it felt profound. But really, moving on seemed inevitable, and just a matter of time.

I can't talk about why, officially, I left the clinic when I did, but I can say that I had recently come to terms with the fact that I would do so before long, if only to move in with J~, who lived a prohibitive ninety minutes away. Perhaps I would (perhaps I still will) find work in a clinic closer to him. Or perhaps I'll find that I have different, not necessarily bigger but possibly more delicious, fish to fry. Like publishing a book. And making a baby.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

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