The Mask

 

I got pregnant for the first time when I was 21 years old.  I was not married, I had no job, and it was clear from the beginning that I was going to be a single parent.  As crazy as that might sound, I knew I wanted to have the baby.  I knew I could raise this child with love and purpose.  I started working and, by the time Luna was six, I had found love again.  The second time I became pregnant I was 28; this time, I was beside myself with happiness.  We bought a house, got married, and we took our time making a beautiful nursery for Lia.  The third time I got pregnant I was 41. I had a good job, a stable family, tons of support, except this time, I was not happy.  Everything about my body felt wrong.

 The year before, I had been hospitalized because of a blood clot in my lung, so now I had to inject daily blood thinners to prevent a reoccurrence during gestation.  Being over 40 meant going to a high-risk clinic. I was miserable.  I thought about having an abortion, but the weight of my upbringing made having to decide unbearable to me.  How could I be pro-choice and still feel that wanting an abortion, for myself, was wrong? I was consumed by guilt.

 I told some family and friends about the pregnancy in the hope that saying it out loud would make me feel acceptance.  But the truth is, sadness had come for me, and it would overtake me at the most inopportune times—like while I was watching t.v.  with my twelve-year-old or while driving to work.  I cried for days.

 On May 22, 2018, I started having really bad cramps and soon after I was bleeding.  The emergency room doctor told me I was having a miscarriage.  I was nine weeks pregnant.  The pregnancy ended as it had begun, unexpectedly.  Having a miscarriage is a very physical and emotional ordeal, and while I still had feelings of guilt for not wanting to be pregnant, I felt a great sense of peace with what happened.

 The decision to have an abortion can be excruciatingly painful to make. I have loved being a mom, at 42, I have spent most of my life raising my children.  Now I want time for myself. Is that selfish?   In spite of this, I had convinced myself that I would carry on, but it really wasn’t what I wanted.  The choice was not about loving a child; I already knew I could do that.  It was about listening to my needs.  I had denied myself the fundamental right to have agency over my body.

 What happens when precaution is not enough? Women are often held hostage to laws and preconceived ideas that dictate how we should react and feel.  This experience reminds me that speaking one’s truth takes courage and that it can be very painful to do.  But we must do it anyway.

 

The Mask

 

“Put your mask on first” says the flight attendant

And I think to myself: “You’ve never met my family.”

Duty is our reoccurring mission

 

I find myself in the middle of this empty kitchen

Pen in hand and a pot full of dreams simmering on the stove

Who wants to eat? I yell

And my girls’ steps shake the house awake

                                                                                                             

What’s for dinner? They ask

Hope. I reply                                                                                   

That they will never have to mask the way they feel inside.

 

 

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