the one we didn’t have

Today the Supreme Court struck down mendacious and cruel restrictions on abortions in Texas. In honor of that decision, and on the eve of having our second child, our son, let me tell you about the one we decided not to have.

We were 22, and seniors in college. I was on birth control, but, who knows? Maybe I missed a pill. Maybe it failed, as it sometimes does. What I knew was that my period was late. So I bought a pregnancy test, blushing. I went to Bryan’s apartment and took it. It was positive. I sat in his yard-sale arm chair and waited for him to come home, so we could talk about what to do.

Not much time passed before I realized I knew. We had talked about it hypothetically, and our opinions were pretty clear: we couldn’t have a KID, we WERE kids. So I figured I’d just do a little internet browsing for clinics, and then, oh, there’s one right there, and then, oh, why not just make an appointment? So when he got home, I told him I was pregnant, and that I’d scheduled an abortion. And we sat with that, and it was right.

My appointment was two or three weeks later, at a clinic that is one of the 18 still open in Texas, right on the edge of our current neighborhood. It was February 1, 2003. On the TVs in the waiting room, we watched the space shuttle Columbia disintegrate as it tried to land.

I think we were just there once. I think this was before multiple appointments and counseling with false information and 24-hour waiting periods were required. I know it was before the state mandated that staff perform an ultrasound and force women to look at the screen as it’s described. But I asked to look anyway. I wanted to see, wanted to fully experience and own what I was doing. I remember a tiny lump, about 8 weeks along, that I felt no connection to.

The procedure hurt. They gave me nitrous oxide, which didn’t seem to help, and I squeezed the hell out of a nurse’s hand, looking up from the table at a picture of a landscape on the ceiling. When it was over, I spent an hour or so with other women, in arm chairs in the recovery room. Then Bryan took me home. I felt relieved. Relieved is all I’ve ever felt about it. For years I’d do the math in September: our kid would be 4 now; 7 now; starting middle school now. I didn’t want to forget, but I still felt just relief.

I never imagined I would tell my parents about it, let alone write about it on a public website. For years I didn’t tell anyone at all, and then only a very small group of very close female friends. Not because I felt bad about my decision. I neither regretted it nor felt I’d done something wrong. There was no guilt, but there was the chance of shame, the awareness that other people might feel like I made a bad decision. Why invite anyone else’s judgement on something so personal?

Now I understand why. It’s so that the 30% of women who have abortions are not faceless, not reckless sluts or people who belong to someone else’s family, or class, or race. It’s so our story isn’t left to the people who would shame us, so that a wider group is forced to reckon with the trade-offs.

What would have happened after college if, instead of adventuring off to Teach for America in California, I’d stayed in Texas and had a baby? If, instead of getting to realize that we were perfect partners and deciding to live our lives together, Bryan and I had been yoked to each other by an incredible responsibility we were not ready for? Instead of deciding to start a family at 34, we’d accidented into one at 22?

I don’t know. But I sure don’t regret the life we’ve had for the last 13 years, and I sure don’t regret the one we chose not to start. Everyone should have that chance to choose.

splash pad saturday

We hang out with Luisa (age 2), Emily and Tony (age 30-odd) a couple times a month. Today they took us to their neighborhood splash pad—Annie’s first. Good, wet times had by all.

Still version:

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Live version (because my dad likes videos):

Saturday

Just a nice Saturday around the house yesterday. Started with some peaceful indoor playtime.

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She’s pretty good at getting on and off of chairs and furniture by herself now. Terrifying. And possibly related to the way she’s perpetually covered in little bump marks and bruises these days.

We moved on to some good splashing in our new, shady under-deck.

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Our enjoyment of play and relaxation was increased by watching Dad hard at work finishing construction. I covered her ears for the sawing.

I suppose if we can handle one toddler + power tools, we will probably be able to cope with a second kid.

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Fully soaked by her outdoor adventures, she got a second suit of clothes after nap time. We call this one her “park ranger” outfit. (She can also eat whole apples by herself now. And by whole, I do mean stem, core, and all.)

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Later she drenched herself again and required yet a third outfit, but I lost steam on the documentation, so we’ll leave it here.

Aside

flipper

Good news on the fetus front: Flipper, breech at 32.5 weeks, lived up to his name and somersaulted into correct, head-down position by my 34-week check-up. 7% of babies are breech at 32 weeks, and between 3-4% at full-term, which these days almost always requires a cesarian delivery. So we’re pleased. How much this had to do with the time I spent in a precarious breech tilt during the last 10 days, we can only speculate.

Aside

overheard

Overheard at 7:23am, as I get out of the shower:

  1. Our dog trying to walk down the stairs, missing a step, and having a minor crash. (This happens 30% of the time now. She’s getting older.)
  2. Three seconds later: our baby waking up with a plaintive cry.
  3. Three seconds later: our baby comforting herself in her crib with kissing noises. (mmmmmAH, mmmmmAH)
Video

Annie these days

She romps around our bed after her bath, standing and walking and falling and babbling. This is pretty representative Annie right now. She likes to hold that toy boat up to her face (and your face) like a gas mask and breath into it heavily.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 14 months old.

You wake up with a little cry at 7:30. I come in and scoop you up. Instead of your usual first stop at the changing table, we head for our bed to say ‘good morning’ to Dad, who is waking up slowly after his 2:30am arrival from his latest week of work in California. After small snuggles and a few skeptical looks, we proceed with your change and head down for breakfast. As we descend, we wave hello to Aunt Camei and SuSu, here helping your poor pregnant mother manage her single-parent week.

You settle in for a breakfast of yogurt with peanut butter and mashed banana. Dad joins us and admires the new skills and maturity you’ve developed in his absence. SuSu and Aunt Camei distract you from your meal with their smiles and attention. I’m afraid sharing the spotlight in a couple of months really will be a rude shock for you.

you and SuSu in fox shirts

you and SuSu in fox shirts

You romp around the living room a bit; then we grease you up with sunscreen in preparation for SPLASH DAY at daycare. During playground time, you shall splash. We are taking a towel, an old t-shirt, and a package of swim diapers in preparation for this major new event. You get dressed; I get dressed; and we load up in the car.

At 8:45, I drop you off at daycare. You started last week and reportedly love it although you still cry plaintively every time I hand you off to Ms. Shanna and Ms. Maricela. Today, two other girls are there already, wandering happily around the classroom in t-shirts, swim diapers, and water shoes. I suspect they may orchestrate Splash Days just because it’s so darn cute.

I understand you have a great day and enjoy the splashing in particular. I often wish for a spy camera to see what you get up to, but at least we get this report:

You've felt "happy" every day so far, according to these reports.

You’ve felt “happy” every day so far, say these reports.

According to the schedule, you spend 9-10 splashing outside, 10-11 getting cleaned up, changed, and doing small group activities and “circle time,” during which you discuss with your peers important matters such as shapes and colors. Lunch is served at 11; today it’s chicken patties, whole wheat bread, cucumbers, and mandarin orange. You eat everything, and drink milk.

You nap on a mat in your own little corner, on a sheet and in a sleep sack with your name written on them in sharpie. After a snack of tortilla and cheese (two of your favorites), Charly picks you up and brings you home. You play with her and Dad for an hour or so, mostly romping on your own around the house, carrying things from place to place, and narrating your actions with a constant stream of babble. You find Sous’ tennis ball and throw it for her. You swat her in the face, and when Dad tells you that’s not nice, you give her a tender MMMMMAH kiss on her back.

Charly takes you to the hot playground around 5, and you come home 45 minutes later red and sweaty, your fine baby hair all stuck to your scalp. We sit down for a dinner of random leftovers, and you enjoy a second night of beef stew with noodles and the cherry tomatoes out of my salad. Your lightening-fast mood changes signal how tired you are.

This mood swing takes approximately 1 second.

This mood swing takes approximately 1 second.

Dad takes you upstairs for a quick bath, paying particular attention to your ears, into which you have rubbed stew. You come back down, clean and diapered, and stagger sleepily around the living room for another 10 minutes. At 6:45 it’s back upstairs with Dad for bedtime. Until tomorrow, Tiny One!