Labor Pains

Give birth to your best self, America

Painful, messy, terrifying, raw
The most beautiful transformation you’ll ever see
America, you’ve been gestating too long to stop now
Humanity is bursting from your loins, America
Born of the brutal rape of racism
Blood spills on the ground
Fertilizing the soil from which you spring forth
You cannot go back to the way you were, America
You can only keep pushing forward
I am learning to listen to my heart, America
Though the change may not be obvious to you yet
Subtle shifts below the surface move mountains, America
I change my thoughts to change my life
Though the echoes of your trauma are deafening
Though the jaws of your mental imprisonment clamp down hard around me
I no longer strive to be your wounded warrior
I am your healed child, here to show you how to heal yourself
Even though you broke my heart so early and often that you left me without a sense of self
Yet my heart kept on beating
And loving
That is how you heal
Keep on loving
Love yourself, love your life, love your fellow beings and the whole Earth as yourself
Forgive yourself and others
Be kind to all, for we are children on a difficult journey that wouldn’t be so damn difficult if we were kind to each other
Pay it forward and see what happens
Love and kindness and forgiveness is the way
America is having labor pains today
I welcome your birth America, your infinite potential
You suffered so much hate that you became a hater but it is finally time to love, America

A Tale of 3 Abortions

For my first abortion, I was on a tropical island under general anesthesia, outside the barbarity of having an abortion in the USA.
A small push of the creamy contents of a syringe swiftly pulled me into a dreamless sleep, the edges of my consciousness tingled briefly before collapsing into painless, silent darkness
Sweet surrender, I welcomed it in
The next thing I remember, I was in the post-operative area, being encouraged to wake up by a soft voice and gentle nudges. Still silly from sedation, I put my arm around the friendly nurse and rested my head on her shoulder. We laughed.

‘Everything went well’ said the doctor afterwards, ‘but you should try to prevent future abortions because every procedure has its risks’

Good advice
That I didn’t take.
I tried. I made several attempts to get an IUD, however I returned home without birth-control every time. One clinic didn’t stock IUDs, another was closed despite my appointment for an IUD insertion. I know I neglected myself, I should have prioritized it more, but self-neglect is a habit that was brutally beaten into my developing brain by my family.

To my family, I give thanks for my successes and my failures. Failure is merely opportunity in disguise.

My second abortion was in a crowded clinic in Philadelphia. The doctor didn’t tell me his name, or say a word to me. He seemed grumpy and rushed, which was to be expected. It was two days before Christmas, and songs about the holy infant baby Jesus wafted through the crowded waiting room of women desperate to have abortions- abortions which were delayed by a sexist legal policy requiring them to view a short video about the risks of having an abortion several days before their abortion could take place.

A volunteer hand-holder allowed me to squeeze her hand throughout the most painful few minutes of my life, telling me I was great at remembering to breathe as my cervix was forced open and the contents of my uterus were sucked out. In the recovery area, in so much pain I felt like I was dying, a volunteer pastor brought me crackers and ginger ale- silver lining of the brutal cloud of having an abortion without analgesia.

For my third abortion, I was blessed with a doula and nitrous oxide to take the edge off of anxiety and pain. A medical student on the care team was my abortion DJ- playing whatever music I requested from her phone (I asked for Bob Marley, to remind me that every little thing is gonna be alright). As I inhaled and exhaled the nitrous oxide through my mouth, I thought to myself, ‘I was made for this’. Years of yoga practice had prepared me for the mindful breathing necessary to receive nitrous oxide, and within a few breaths, I embarked on a spiritual journey.

Throughout my cosmic trip, my abortion doula guided me. She would gently remind me to relax my forehead and drop my shoulders away from my ears, told me how strong I was and what a great job I was doing, fanned me when I started to sweat, bringing me back to a place of peace and ease. Most of the time, the abortion clinic room had faded away and I did not realize that time was passing- perhaps it wasn’t.

My doula reminded me to lengthen my exhales by telling me to ‘blow out all those candles on the birthday cake’. In my shamanic trance, from the perspective that existence is a timeless field of elements and particles, of light and vibration, I knew that no one is ever really born and no one ever really dies.

Abortions are difficult. The decision to have an abortion, the experience itself, and the lifelong emotional reaction to it are all really tough. Electing to end a pregnancy has innate emotional complexity. There is a moment just before each of my three abortions when I thought, ‘It is not too late, I can run out of here and keep this pregnancy’, and I felt torn, no matter how sure I felt about the abortion going into it. Even with nitrous oxide, my third abortion was still breathtakingly painful, however feeling united with existence on the quantum level, understanding the immortality of all being, was worth it in and of itself.

I’m glad that I had every one of my abortions, as continuing my pregnancies would have been far worse. Although it breaks my heart to mourn my could’ve-been-babies, I didn’t feel supported by society, my family or my partners in any of my pregnancies. I’m glad that I will not have another abortion, praise be to my IUD.

A woman who has a miscarriage and retains the embryo, fetus or placenta in her uterus is allowed to have it removed in the operating room under full anesthesia, yet women electing to end a pregnancy must endure the same procedure in excruciating pain. To be freed from an unwanted pregnancy, however, is worth it every time.

Dear reader, I hope you never have to experience an abortion, however should the need arise, I hope you are blessed with a hand to hold, encouraging words, and by grace, nitrous oxide.

Wild Thing

I do things that I know I shouldn’t

I do the impossible, people said I couldn’t

I do wild things, you thought I wouldn’t

But I did and I do

I’m gonna keep on living how I see fit for me, not you

Your discontent has nothing to do with me

So don’t cry to me that I aborted the pregnancy

If you’d been half a man worth half a damn

Maybe I would’ve reconsidered

But you made it easy

I’m a wild thing

My body is mine and mine alone to keep

I am not an extension of you, you goddamn creep

Now you know, I don’t play when you mess with me

I’m wild and I’m going to stay that way

I won’t be the victim of your domestic abuse

I’ve already ridden that train and I know it goes right to Insaneland

You can stay there, I’ve hitchhiked elsewhere

I’m a wild thing

You are not allowed in my organic garden of Eden

You are too bitter to taste the sweetness my fruit

 

Little Prayer

I humbly offer a little prayer
For the little life
That grew inside me for a while
They were due to be born yesterday

I think it was a girl
I will never know for sure
Not knowing is part of the price I pay for ending the pregnancy
How I would have loved to love her

Unbeknownst to me at the time of conception, her daddy was not fit to raise a baby with
Nine weeks later, he made it apparent that I needed to have nothing to do with him        In order to protect my own wellbeing

At the same time, I lacked the socioeconomic resources
to have the baby without him
So I gave her up, though I struggled to pay for the abortion

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Planned Parenthood, the Women’s Action Fund, and the many strong, generous advocates of women’s rights around the world. Thank you.

To the ignorant people and policies that get in the way of women accessing the health care they need, to those who do harm by being obnoxious obstacles to women’s rights, and to the health insurance companies that don’t cover jack shit of abortive care, I would like to express a sincere ‘Fuck You’.

Ending my pregnancy was a tough choice
But I’m glad I made it
It was the best decision for me
I am happier, healthier and freer now because of it

Still, in my mind’s eye I see her sweet eyes
Whisper in her little ears, caress her soft curls
Hold her little fingers and the tiniest of toes
In my imagination, I kiss her cheeks and her nose
I hear her laughter and her cries
I delight in the chubby rolls of her baby thighs

I hope you understand, little life
That your mama did the best she could
With what she had at the time

I bow in deep respect to you
With compassion and gratitude
Beaming always peace and love to you

From the spiritual realm, little life, I’m sure you can see clearly how                                                  Pro-choice is pro-life; pro-women’s lives                                                                          Women’s lives matter                                                                                                                       My abortion allowed me to give birth to my own life                                                                   I am so fortunate to live the life that I want                                                                                 To make decisions about my body                                                                                                  To be free

I pray that all women may know this freedom                                                                             If I had kept the pregnancy and given birth yesterday, I would have raised my child to value and fight for her freedom of choice                                                                                            So that if she got pregnant she could choose to do what is best for herself

 

American Abortion

America, America
Do you feel free?
I’ll tell you what freedom means to me
Freedom is the choice to do what I want with my body

America, America
I know you can relate
You too have suffered
Violations of late

America, you know the trauma of violence
Violence like my childhood
I survived it the best that I could
It wasn’t easy, America

Loud explosions of anger
Showered down upon my head

Hidden within the deep silence of neglect
I wished that I was dead

America, that upbringing
Taught me just one thing;
How to feel afraid
Long after the violence ceases to sting

America, I am still too afraid to say ‘no’
You can imagine how this created problems as I started to grow
I knew only how to please                                                      

So I had unwanted sex
That lead to unwanted pregnancy
That’s how that goes
When you don’t have birth control

America, you gave me hope
When I received health insurance even though I was poor
Insurance that would have covered my whole pregnancy and the birth of my baby
Who could ask for anything more?

But America, I didn’t want to be pregnant or have a child
After all, my own life is still quite wild
It seems an ill choice to bring a baby into this world
When my own ability to make ends meet has yet to unfurl

I thought that since my health insurance would’ve covered the pregnancy
Asking it to pay for an abortion would be a relief
A relief for my body, my future and a relief for the insurance company
Because an abortion costs a tiny fraction of the price of having a baby, and at a much smaller health risk than childbirth, America

But my insurance refused to cover even one penny of the fee
and the ‘Powers That Be’ maliciously made me suffer through bureaucracy;         waiting and watching a ridiculous video that delayed for more than a week
the medical treatment of which I was in desperate need

America, have you ever been pregnant when you didn’t want to be?
Have you ever felt so exhausted that you were incapacitated from doing anything?
Have you ever been nauseous all day and all night?
Have you ever had your sense of smell so heightened that you felt suffocated by the stink of misogynistic bullshit?

America, I begged and scraped to pay for my abortion
The abortion was painful and bloody and rushed
Just another American day

America, I think we need to have a heart-to-heart talk
Abortion saved my life
Thanks to my abortion, I am now free
I am free from an abusive relationship
I am free from a pregnancy that I didn’t want to keep
I am free from having a baby when I wasn’t ready

America, how could I not feel hurt by your bias?
You would have given me full support if I kept my pregnancy,
yet no support at all when I chose to end it                                     This made me feel like you did not respect my life, my body or my autonomy
It put me in dire financial straits                                             For which I am still washing the dishes
But I’m grateful that the choice was mine to make

America, I too have a dream
That one day
Women will have abortion services
Covered by their health insurance
As much as any other reproductive health care
America, we can do better

America, I want every woman to have
The right to decide what she wants to do with her body
Women are more than baby-growing machines to be controlled by others
Women are people too
And we have something to tell you:

Keep abortion legal
Keep abortion safe
Let women choose what to do with their bodies
Let Freedom Ring

Take Home Message

Take Home Message

More than a half-dozen moons ago
Just before the first snow
I caught Autumn’s fire
And in flames of desire
Got burnt by a liar
Who told me that he pulled his cock out in time
But he did not
It cost me more than dimes
For nine long weeks I was a baby-growing machine
It was extremely stressful and beyond exhausting

When my woulda-been baby daddy
Demonstrated his mental instability
I made the best decision I could:
I ended the pregnancy
Had that little life sucked right out of me
I never felt so much pain or saw so much blood
Months later I am bleeding still
Though I am too broke and scared to incur another doctor’s bill

Yesterday something fell out of my vagina
It wasn’t blood, nor was it obviously an embryo
It was an irregularly-shaped mass of fleshy tissue
Although I’m bleeding profusely, I am finally pain-free
I’m not entirely sure what the thing is or what it means
It quickly acquired a putrid smell
My take home message is:
Use protection y’all, to prevent this hell

 

Enough Already

Enough Already

Practically speaking,
I’m not too keen on the idea of bringing another life into this world
I feel rather inconvenienced by my own life, you see
And don’t want to impose that cumbersome bother onto someone else

I haven’t had a very pleasant time at this living thing,
Having spent most of my life tightly wedged between crippling anxiety and suffocating depression, both untreated and hidden just below the surface of my seemingly functional exterior
I try to live to the best of my abilities,
But I’m not sure that everyone else tries to live to the best of theirs

There is so much suffering inflicted on ourselves by ourselves, fellow humans
I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced more than enough of the stuff
Through long years of fear
Between bouts of violence, rape, exploitation and abuse

Far be it from me to add to the mess by producing another person who would inevitably both be hurt and hurt others during their lifetime
They would feel so much pain, rage and shame
Why not skip the whole thing?

How would I find the time or the energy to make a baby?
How would I pay for my baby’s needs, when I can barely afford my own minimal living expenses?
How could I teach a baby to live well, when I fumble so crudely with the art?

Though babies are cute
And sacred as can be
Each baby is a blank slate of unadulterated potential
That quickly gets covered in other people’s graffiti

Babies grow up and learn qualities such as greed, jealousy, selfishness and dishonesty
Adults have been known to destroy uncounted lives in the pursuit of their own insatiable appetites
Just look at the news today
It seems that those who live selfishly are both numerous and vastly destructive

This world was never safe, but it has grown particularly savage lately
Our Earth is not fit to raise a child in
Where is the clean air, clean water, clean soil?
Where is there a place without oppression and senseless violence?

To my inner harm-doer, and to yours, I humbly suggest:

The next time you feel overwhelmed by desire,
Sit still, unclench your body and your mind, breathe deep
Relax into the sensation of unrest and let it go
Feel supported by life
Comfort your own inner baby
And stop the chain of pain
Enough already

I Know You

I know you
With your love for women’s bodies and booze
You blast your charm loudly
You walk big and talk proudly
I remember you
We’ve met so many times before
You want to buy me a drink
Which means sleep with me
Which means impregnate me
And leave me to pick up the pieces
At night your drunken demons resurface
Chattering of insecurity and fear
A horrific dialogue that only I hear
But honey, I don’t need to bear your load
I’ve got enough to carry on my own
So don’t put it on me

I know you
Bestowing me with bottles of wine and hotel rooms
you even insist on opening doors for me
Yet the only thing you don’t give me is the one thing I want from you,                                            if you were to ask, or to listen:

Respect in the form of safe sex,                                                                                                      which is the only sustainable great sex
I will think of you with bitter regret
When I get tested for HIV, long months from now

You are there to bed me, to liquor me up and strip me down
But you are not there
When I am spending time, money, sweat, blood and tears
On emergency contraception, pregnancy and STD tests

Thank you for making it easy to move on                                                                                      Until we meet again                                                                                                                                     I hope to recognize you then                                                                                                               I know you

Ode to Planned Parenthood

You were the only source of health care
That was ever there for me
From the start of puberty
Through the hour of my greatest need

You and I and millions more know
The immeasurable good that you do
The prevention and education
The empathy and professionalism
You give so freely

The haters that blindly protest you
Know not what they do
They are ignorant of the
Compassionate care and hope you provide
Every day of the year
May your doors remain open always

In the dark societal oppression of women, you glow
You gave me birth control to cure my anemia due to a heavy menstrual flow
You gave me Pap smears all those years,
And STD tests all the rest
Because some men refuse to treat a lady with respect
You held my hand and saw me through
One of the most challenging experiences of womanhood
You gave me an abortion
When neither my personal nor my professional life
Provided an appropriate environment to raise a child

You are my pink safety net
Spun of angel thread
Thank you for catching me
Again and again

I am every woman
And I bow in deep gratitude to you,
Planned Parenthood