I write on the first day of my period.
I spent the last one day wondering whether I was pregnant. Again. Even though the chances were very slim given the facts at hand, I couldn’t be 100% sure. And my period tracker app said I was late (more on that later).
When I mulled over the possibility of being pregnant, I realised that if I was, there was no way in hell I could continue with the pregnancy. The simple fact was that I am not mentally or physically capable of bearing another child and caring for an infant. If it were a choice between that and death, I would rather be dead. It’s that simple.
This morning I realised that the most traumatic part of infant care for me was breastfeeding. If I did not have to breastfeed – and frankly with the availability of formula there is no reason I could not simple put any future baby on formula straight away* – my antipathy towards the whole deal of infant care would be halved by 50%.
Even so I really really really did not want to be pregnant. And if I was, I would have opted for an abortion, as quickly as possible.
One of my straight-up problems with the Republican Party in the US (and with the Catholic Church) is its anti-abortion stance. V asked me why I felt so strongly about this, I said because I know from my own experience what it means to be parent. And I can empathise wholeheartedly with women for whom becoming a parent would be the end of their own life literally or in practice. The weird thing is that carrying two children to term and caring for them in early childhood, with all the financial and material help I had, made me even more sure of my stance that women must have the right to abortion backed up by the availability of safe abortion services, in addition to other forms of contraception. Because I know what it takes. And I can imagine what it would be like for women who have less control over their lives and for whom an unwanted pregnancy can be disaster. And I know that contraception doesn’t always work, and that many women don’t have the choice of using contraception and/or abstaining from sex altogether. And that those women deserve to have that final recourse of abortion if it comes to that.
Moreover, states that restrict access to abortion almost never make exceptions. So there have been cases like that of Savita in Ireland who was allowed to die rather than abort the feotus inside her, a rape survivor in Ireland who was denied an abortion, a woman who was kept alive although she was for all purposes dead so that the foetus inside her could live (even though this was against her own expressed wishes and those of her family), a woman who was accused of “aborting” her baby when she had a miscarriage. In all these examples, women are deprived of control over their own lives, sometimes literally, in order to save a foetus.
The most blinding irony is the case of countries where the Zika virus is rampant, where women who have little or no access to contraception and wehre abortion is banned are being asked to “not get pregnant.” Well good luck with that.
On the subject of the period tracker app, I was relying on the app’s calculation of when I should get my period. It has been fairly on point so far, so when I was a couple of days late I panicked. Prior to using the app, I honestly could never anticipate my period. When I was pregnant and the doctor’s asked me how many days my cycle was , I would say 30 days although really I had no idea. I’m bad at counting. Then I tried this app and it was like magic. I could with some accuracy predict my period date even a couple of months ahead.
However, last night I took a closer look at the days between two periods, and I realised that there were only 20 days between them! WTF! Though now I’m back to 27 days which I still think is a bummer because shorter cycle more periods across my lifetime. I can’t wait for menopause.
*Except for the environmental and ethical issues. I am no longer convinced of the glorious health benefits of breastfeeding. Except in cases where babies have allergy to formula (but then they tend to have allergies to cow’s milk in breastmilk too, and then the whole saga of diet control, which I know only too well).