No Choice But Pro Choice
My mother was pregnant 13 times in 10 years. 5 of her pregnancies resulted in healthy full term deliveries (including one set of twins). 8 of her pregnancies ended in spontaneous abortions, also known as miscarriages. My older sister was my mother’s third pregnancy and first born. Before my older sister was born, my mother was ordered to have complete bed rest. While she was awaiting the birth of my sister, she made a beautiful christening gown that was worn by all of us except one of the twins. I was born 16 months later, her 4th pregnancy. When I was 6 months old, my mother had a miscarriage, which was pregnancy number 5. 12 months later, in October, my mother gave birth to my brother who was her 6th pregnancy. 2 years and 2 miscarriages passed without any trauma I can recollect. When my mother had 3 healthy children ages 5, 4 and 3, mother had her ninth pregnancy and sixth miscarriage. I remember this miscarriage; my mother was hemorrhaging badly and carried down the stairs on a stretcher with blood dripping from her body. The attendants had to stop on the stairs and put something on my mother to keep the blood from coming. My maternal grandmother and my father who was crying went to the hospital. My paternal grandmother stayed with me and my brother and sister. 54 years later, I still remember that night. My grandmother told me to put my pajamas on and I yelled at her that they were not my pajamas, and she smacked my bare bottom hard and told me to put them on anyway. Today, I understand my grandmother’s fears that she might not have been caring for her grandchildren for just a night or two.
I don’t remember how long my mother stayed in the hospital. I remember my father bringing home bags of candy and hamburgers and letting us drink chocolate milk and soda. My mother soon recovered and came home. Within a year, she was pregnant with another sister, and enjoyed a normal, healthy delivery with a full term baby. Between my sister, who was child number 4, and pregnancy number 10, my mother miscarried two more times before giving birth to twin girls. Before returning home from the hospital with the twin newborns, Mom had a tubal ligation (fallopian tubes were cut and tied).
Mom had complete health coverage, a husband and a large extended family. Over the years, I asked her about birth control. Birth control (contraception) was not legal in the US for married couples until 1966. Unmarried or single women could legally obtain contraceptives in 1972. You could, before 1972 get birth control pills if you told your doctor you had unbearable cramps during your period.
Regarding the 8 fetuses that could have been my siblings; I never knew them, they did not have faces, or temperaments, or needs, and they were mostly clumps of cells the size of a cashew nut. In this situation, their demises were spontaneous, and no medical intervention could have saved them.
My mother endured too much with all of her pregnancies. There are medical developments for women today that will save lives and keep women healthier. When it comes to the body within the body, decisions need to be made by the woman who is affected. Any advice should come from whomever she chooses to ask. Referendums, legal actions and public protests by people (mostly men) with different religious beliefs or political aspirations, should stay the hell out of her business. She has enough on her plate!
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