Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My two abortions. #shoutyourabortion

This blog is connected to my business website. Everything I do in my personal life, I do proudly and do not hide, everything I do in my business, is colored by my own ethics and who I am. I cannot, and will not, separate them.
I realize that this forum is mine to use as I wish, but I also have held back in the past. I didn't wish to offend, to alienate, and frankly...to lose clients.
But that has to change. If I do not speak out then I will be doing a disservice to myself, my community, and womankind in general.
In light of the current political state of the United States of America, I have realized the importance of not sitting idle, or staying silent, the importance of sharing our stories.
I have written and erased this blog many times. It is a deeply personal experience. It is an experience that so many share. So here is my experience.
When I was 24 I moved to Yelapa Mexico, from San Francisco California with my best friend. I was thinking I'd get a job, fix up a little casa, maybe meet a guy. It was a care-free time of my life, but also a very wild and uncertain time.
It all began well, I got a job, fixed up a little casa, and met a guy. We were having a great time.
A couple months in I realized I was pregnant. I had used protection, it did not work. The relationship also did not work, things had gotten bad and I was extremely upset. For just a moment I recklessly thought, what would happen if I just had this kid? Maybe things would work out with me and the guy. Maybe my measly pay would get me through if it didn't. Maybe...it would absolutely fucking ruin my life!
I knew very quickly that I had to return to the states and terminate the pregnancy. I was broke, and I had no return ticket. I called my mom and told her I needed her to help me get back. She didn't ask why, she put it on her credit card, and she got me back to California.
I had arranged for an appointment at Planned Parenthood (where I had been getting my paps and birth control since I was 17).  I arranged for my good friend to take me. The day before my mom asked me if I was pregnant, moms know these things. I felt ashamed that I didn't successfully avoid it, that I had to ask for her help, that I was slinking back home with my tail between my legs. But I felt no shame or remorse about the procedure scheduled for the next morning. I only felt relief. And no person in my life, including my mother, made me feel anything but supported. I was extremely lucky and privileged in this.
The worst part about the whole day, was having to wait in the office, the procedure was easy and smooth (later classified "like butter") and I was treated with nothing but the utmost kindness and respect. Thanks to the doctors and staff that risk their actual lives to provide that safety for us.
A couple months later, I moved back to San Francisco, I ended up working as a photographer, doing burlesque, learning to swing dance, making amazing art, curating and producing shows, and gaining a whole group of awesome friends, I had a full and wonderful life of freedom, living in one of the most amazing cities in the world. That all, because of my rights, that someone fought for.
Almost a decade later I, once again, moved back to Yelapa. Now a very different person and for very different reasons. I began to run a large property with rentals, it was a huge undertaking. After 2 years of running the business and just getting the hang of it, getting out of an abusive relationship, and reconnecting with my old flame from 2004, I found myself pregnant again. I was on birth control, I had not gotten pregnant once in my decade in San Francisco, go figure. I was, once again, very sure that I was not ready to become a parent. This time I was able to buy my own ticket, and had wonderful girl friends to stay with in SF, to come with me to my appointment, I planned to visit family after and then return to Mexico and work in a week. It was to be an "abortion vacation", all was set!
3 days before my departure I started heavy bleeding and debilitating cramps, I was still in Yelapa, I was scared, and not sure what I should do. I called Planned Parenthood and they talked me down, gave me really good info of what to watch out for, and told me just to keep my appointment. I was having a "spontaneous abortion" which is the technical term for a miscarriage, which apparently happens all the time without women even knowing they are pregnant.
So still in a lot of pain and feeling very weak I got on a boat, got on a plane, took the train to my friends house, and relieved went my appointment the next day.
When we arrived, we saw protesters out front. It actually didn't dawn on me until I saw their large photos of mutilated bloody fetuses, that they were pro-life protesters. I could not believe it. This is the Mission district, in San Francisco California, in 2014!
Do these people have no lives? Do they really think they are going to deter people? Do they realize that their photos are totally inaccurate? Do they have a reason to be playing Bing Crosby christmas music? These were my immediate thoughts.
As I walked by, ignoring them, a woman approached me, close enough to touch me, and told me "You have other choices", I responded "You don't know what the fuck is going on with me! I happen to currently be miscarrying!" she then advised me that Planned Parenthood wasn't a real doctors office. Instead of further engaging, I just turned around and walked in.
The poor receptionist apologized and I told her it's fine, they don't phase me, it's like a crazy drugged-out person yelling at you on the bus.
But as I saw each girl come in, many young, alone, looking very distraught, I remembered my privilege, my luck of amazing support, my absolute surety that I did not want to become a parent at that time. These girls might not have that surety, they may be being pressured by family to continue with a pregnancy, they may want to be parents but know it isn't the best thing for them or a potential child at that time.
I wanted so badly to tell them it was ok, it was nothing to be ashamed of, they could be parents in the future if they wanted to. But I stayed quiet, had my uterus cleaned out, went back to my friends house, ate ice cream, had some visitors, and felt just fine the next day. Happy, ready to move on and get back to my routine. Which I did, and have, and not with one tiny bit of regret or shame. Until I saw the campaign #shoutyourabortion by "Lady Parts Justice League", people were telling their stories. I felt it was too personal, too controversial, that I would be judged. So even though I personally have no shame around it, I still felt shamed.
Why should I feel shamed by people who do not know me? And if I am judged by those who know me, do I want them in my life? Should I feel more shame because it wasn't that big of a deal for me? Would it be better if I had been wrought with guilt and if it had been a hard decision?
The truth is, I should not, I will not, I do not feel shame. If one wishes to shame me that is their burden to bare, not mine.
I do not disrespect women who wish to be mothers. I think it is something amazing, scientific and magical. To grow a person inside you. To love and nurture that person into adulthood. It is wonderful thing. I crave it at times myself. I am lucky to be an aunt/tia to some incredible offspring. I adore children and they adore me.
But unless a person is ready and wants this, it should not be forced, that in itself is a start to a hard and painful life.
I will not force women to have abortions, no one will force me to have children. It is our right, as women, to decide when we become mothers. You will not take that from us.

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