rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Or, how pregnancy made me so much more pro-choice

Several of my friends have been passing around links to this wonderful article about the horrible realities of pregnancy (starting with farting at the bus stop and going downhill from there), and this line jumped out at me:

If you had not chosen it, this state would be intolerable.

One of my mantras for getting through the hideousness that was my last pregnancy was "I consented to this". Quick recap: for over four months I was constantly nauseous and tired, unable to keep breakfast down or tolerate the smell of the fridge; as the nausea finally eased my pelvis started falling apart painfully due to the ligaments holding it together loosening under pregnancy hormones; at the end, after two months of false contractions without ever beginning real labour I consented to unwanted surgery as the least-bad option for delivering my baby. I endured it all consenting; but Yes is meaningless if there is no way to say No.

I didn't tell anyone until after Nicholas was born, but I considered that No, very privately. At about 8 weeks I found myself dashing past my boss into the loos and being noisily and miserably sick, just a day or two after disclosing my pregnancy. I thought "can I keep on like this?" and I thought, if I had even a bit less support, I could not have done so. I would have been down at the GP asking for an abortion. But I did have support and with it, I thought I could keep on. Of course, I thought the pregnancy nausea would ease off after 12 weeks, rather than the extra 4-6 weeks it actually took.

In normal circumstances, being made to throw up repeatedly for weeks on end would probably be called torture.

I was very lucky: I was carrying a much-wanted, planned-for pregnancy; I had a supportive spouse who also wanted a baby, and quietly took over my share of the housework as I became incapable; I had a sedentary job so I didn't have to stay on my feet for long each day; my first child was old enough to be independent and even helpful; my brother lived with us and helped look after my first child so many evenings when all I could do was collapse into bed after getting us home. Even with all that, pregnancy was awful; how much worse if I'd been alone, or in a job where I had to be on my feet all day, or with a toddler rather than a schoolchild.

I know people who seemed to have worse pregnancies and endured them better; I'm certainly not holding myself up as some kind of yardstick for "you must suffer this much to abort a pregnancy". I think the only person who can know if they can cope is the person who is going through it. I don't think anyone else can weigh up all the factors that affect whether someone feels they can carry a pregnancy to term.

I consented to my continued pregnancy, and I adore my baby Nico, but I will never willingly be pregnant again[*]. I do not consent. I have the best long-term contraception I know of, but if that contraception should fail, I will seek an abortion. I was always pro-choice, but in a kind of abstract theoretical way. Now it's much more personal and visceral.

This is why I rearranged my charitable giving at the end of last year and the following organisations are between them getting 5% of my post-tax income:

Marie Stopes International
Abortion Support Network
Education for Choice

No-one should have to go through pregnancy unconsenting.

[*] Actually, I can imagine at least two scenarios where I would consider it, but they are all horrible and I hate my imagination.

Date: 2013-05-15 22:25 (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
This is important and I am glad that you wrote it, and glad that you made it public, and sad that you have the necessary experience to write it.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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