Today I was supposed to share some of my tips for maintaining a healthy, vegetarian pregnancy. But that just seemed silly to me after the week I’ve had. A week where I’ve listened to arguments across our country both for and against abortion. Where I’ve heard pro-lifers judge and pro-choicers white-wash. I’m saddened by both sides. My heart breaks not only because of the loss of life – and I unwaveringly believe it’s life – but also because of the way we are discussing this issue. I’m sickened by the hatred on both sides. By the ignorance. And by the lack of truth in everyone’s effort to cast judgement and blame and to justify opinions.
I don’t enjoy participating in this debate. It is one that saddens me to my very core. However, as I’ve forced myself to stay up on current coverage of this issue, my heart is overflowing with the kinds of emotions that I would rather share in the hopes that it might encourage someone.
I’m not going to go into the facts that are facts. Like the way a baby has a heartbeat at 8 weeks gestation. A heartbeat. (When I went in for my 8 week checkup, my OB wanted to confirm dating so he performed an ultrasound. My baby girl was the size of the tip of an eraser, and she had a strong, steady, human heartbeat.) Or the fact that a baby can survive outside of the womb, with a little bit of help, at a time that many abortions are performed. Or the fact that no argument of inconvenience, inability, or lack of desire could possible, on any level, justify the end of human life. I will say that I am 100% for women’s rights. I consider myself a feminist. But I don’t consider this just a women’s rights issue; I also consider this a human rights issue.
I believe all women should have access to healthcare and free birth control. I believe that both women and men deserve to live in a society where rape isn’t tolerated. But I also believe we live in a society where we have divorced the idea of sex between the reality of life. Sex begets life. When we view sex as purely recreational and for our own pleasure, then we tend to have a skewed view of the consequences. If we view sex as something we do simply for ourselves, if we view our bodies as purely our own, then we end up with the idea that we have the right to use both for our own devices.
But sex isn’t just for pleasure. Sex is also the wild and crazy vehicle for the creation of life. I don’t believe that you should only use sex for procreation purposes. But, when you understand that sex is a pivotal link in the chain of human life, that sort of changes the discussion, doesn’t it? Sex can create new life, and when that new life is terminated willingly, it’s murder. Those are the simple facts that make up this discussion. Sure, there are a lot of really, really complicated facts that surround this issue, but at it’s core, it all boils down to those three things.
However, as sad as abortion makes me (And trust me, it truly crushes my spirit when I spend time thinking about it.), the way we’ve been handling this discussion also frustrates and saddens me. I read this week that the #1 reason why abortions are reportedly performed is – essentially – convenience. Women aren’t ready. They don’t want their life to change. They don’t feel capable of caring for a child. This statistic blows my mind. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this, this is the part that makes abortion a feminist issues, but not in the way people are framing it.
Everyone from Beyonce to Hillary are telling us that we – women – can rule the world. We can have jobs, be our own bosses, and have a family too. We can enter politics, engineering, or professional sports. And yet – and yet – when women say they want to end a pregnancy because they can’t handle it, or don’t want it, we don’t bat an eye. We don’t empower, we don’t encourage, we give them a ticket for the path of least resistance.
Here is the thing. You might ask, “What does she know? She clearly has nothing in common with me. She is pregnant right now with her third child. She is a stay at home mom for goodness sake.” Well, you can say that or think that all you want. But the reality is that, until about four years ago, I never really wanted kids. I didn’t think I was equipped. I didn’t think I could be a good mom. I didn’t want to give anything up. I loved working and I didn’t even want to worry about the work-home life debate, I just wanted to keep living the life I was already living.
So I’m going to say today what no one said to me: you can do it. You can be a good mother. You can bring a child or children into the world no matter what your circumstances are, and still be successful. Think that’s a naive statement? Maybe. But mostly, I say that because, as a women, I know just how much we are capable of accomplishing. We are powerful. Smart. Adaptable. But more than that, we possess the amazing ability to create life. To shelter and grow life. It is not always easy, and absolutely, it’s an inconvenience at times. But it is also one of our greatest strengths. I’ve also seen first hand how motherhood hasn’t diminished my strength and ability but multiplied it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you or make you feel like you can’t do this, because you can.
I don’t know what the answer is to this difficult debate. I don’t want one more abortion to take place, and yet, I know that if we make it illegal then we will go back to abortions being performed in dirty back rooms where no one comes out healthy and well. What I do know, however, is that arguments and hatred and judgment do nothing for the woman who is scared and full of doubts. All I can offer in these moments, are my words of empowerment and support.
Let me put it this way:
The circumstances and challenges you face today might be unknown to me, but the uncertainty you feel towards your ability, your desire, to become a mother, is not.
I understand the fear we all face as we stare into the unknown future of motherhood. I understand the inconvenience.
I’ve asked myself if I was ready to become a mother. If I was equipped. If I would enjoy it. I’ve asked myself if I would like a life that included children. I’ve wondered how I would balance it all. Wondered who would raise the child. Pay for the child. Care for the child. I’ve asked myself how this would effect my professional, social, and personal life.
I’ve felt the pain of an unpleasant pregnancy, and the terror of a traumatic birth. I’ve experienced the internal conflict that arrises between needing to take care of someone else, and the desire to take care of myself. I’ve faced a mirror that reveals a growing body that I struggle to see as beautiful.
But I’ve also seen something that you haven’t. I’ve seen how pain is temporary and fear can be overcome. I’ve seen uncertainty give way to reality. I’ve seen insecurity grow into ability, or even confidence.
I’ve seen myself face and overcome my greatest obstacle, though – myself. I’ve seen my selfishness face-to-face. I’ve stared it down. I’ve made the decision to not continue living for myself, but to accept the greatest calling ever to be offered me: that of mother.
I’ve said yes to sheltering, nurturing, and loving new life. I’ve said yes to sharing my life, my literal flesh and blood, with another. I’ve said yes to inconveniencing my physical, mental, emotional, professional, and financial life for the sake of another. I’ve said yes to pain and discomfort in order to protect a body that is not mine. I’ve said yes to valuing another person over myself.
I’ve said yes to new life – to all these little hardships that don’t feel so little in the moment – so that I can say yes to a love that is greater than all the rest.
I’ve said yes to recognizing that I am immeasurably stronger than I could have ever imagined. I’ve said yes to expanding my capacity for love. I’ve said yes to fostering a strength and resolve that I didn’t know I possessed. I’ve said yes to a relationship that has so little to do with me, but gives me more than I ever thought possible.
I’ve said yes to uncertainty. To change. To pain. To struggle. To joy. To growth. To new understanding. To new challenges. To greater depths of love.
I’ve said yes to it all, even when I wasn’t ready. Even when I was scared. Even when I was certain I would fail. I’ve said yes to creating new life, and it will forever remain, my best yes.
I hope you will consider saying yes, too.