I just have to say that I have never been more grateful to have a private office, with a door that shuts. My assistant really doesn't need to hear about my vaginal bacteria.
2. Wednesday night I had dinner out with a bunch of girlfriends. One of my best friends, F., just attained one of the best benchmarks of success in her field (sorry to be so cryptic but what she does is related to what I do and I'm working hard at being anonymous here, what with the vaginal bacteria talk and all) and we and a bunch of her other friends (who I'm also less-close friends with) went out to celebrate. One of these other friends, R., announced that she's ten and a half weeks pregnant.
I was shocked by how much it hurt. When she said, "I'm pregnant!" it was like a full body blow. I really struggled to smile and say nice things. I thought I was moving past resenting every pregnant person around me--then again, I also thought everyone I knew who could get pregnant already had, and so I'd be safe for a while. I guess I forgot about R.
Out of all these women, only F. knows about our infertility struggles. But it was F. (a mom herself) who really got the pregnancy talk rolling, offering to lend her maternity clothes, discussing how soon one really began to "show" and when she started needing maternity wear, etc. The pregnancy talk went on so long I actually had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom, where I shocked myself again by bursting into tears. What is wrong with me?
(I didn't want to say anything to F., because it was "her night" and I don't want people to feel like they have to constantly tiptoe around me. But it still hurt.)
3. Thursday morning, when I got to work, Fetus Guy was camped out in front of my office building. Fetus Guy is a man who on most days can be seen stationed in front of various office buildings along the block, saying nothing but wearing a sandwich board with a giant picture of a fetus on it and the words CHOOSE LIFE. My building is in his regular rotation, though I hadn't seen him in a while. I think security can't do anything about him as long as he stays on the public sidewalk and doesn't harass anybody. Of course he has the right to express his beliefs in whatever form he chooses, but it's rather gruesome to be confronted with a three-foot-high fetus before you've had your morning coffee, you know?
I never make eye contact with him, but this morning he held out some of his literature to me. I shot him a smolderingly hostile look, like, I used to volunteer AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD, do not even TRY that shit with me, motherfucker.
That was it. I walked past Fetus Guy, went into my building, rode the elevator up and went to work. But the encounter really stuck with me. I kept thinking about it, especially in the context of having just burst into tears the night before over another woman's pregnancy, devastated that once again someone else had what I can't seem to reach. I debated whether or not to post about it, but then tonight, reading about the horrible runaround Julia has experienced, in the midst of her family's pain, I got angry, and I just, well, I guess I feel the need to say something.
I know that some wonder how infertile women can still be pro-choice. I can only say, how can I not be? Am I not choosing, with every fiber of my being, to pursue parenthood no matter what the cost? Can I deny others the right to choose the opposite?
And I ask, how can anyone who knows about the unspeakable grief that women like Julia (the other one) and Cecily and so many others have experienced--how can anyone who has read their stories wish for laws that would have made their decisions even more painful, that would have placed more obstacles in the way of their finding their way through the darkness?
This is what I believe. I'll fight for the rights of women in situations like Julia's and Julia's and Cecily's...and for the scared thirteen-year-old I saw shaking and puking in the recovery room after her abortion...and for my dear friend who, junior year, got sloppy about condom use with her long-time boyfriend and faced the consequences. To me, they all deserve to have a choice--a real choice, not one so fettered with criteria to meet and hoops to jump through and people to prove oneself to that the choice is meaningless. All of them.
I realize many people who read this blog may disagree with me. You can focus on the vaginal bacteria part of this post instead, if you prefer.