Category Archives: Other Voices

Mother’s Day Remembrance

By Carol Austin

It was Mother’s Day. ‘So Carol, Are you a mother?”

‘No.’ I responded without elaboration. I am gratefully beyond child bearing years.

Months later he asked again as I navigated through a busy traffic intersection. My answer was the same but I added, ‘Better  living through chemistry’.

‘I may use that ‘, he said.

My mind went back through the years. Two pregnancies, no live births was recorded on the official medical forms. A spontaneous abortion when I was too young to know what happened. Cramping then a discharge which I flushed down the toilet. My mother took me to the doctor. A cleanup and years later I became aware.

Later in my early thirties I had moved to a different city. I was one of a throng of young people living in a University town. I had stopped taking my birth control pills. My partner had moved to another State to be an assistant professor at a small religious affiliated college. I reasoned since I had not become pregnant during our three years together I was not at risk. I did not know this was used as a means of increasing the liability of conception.  

I met a guy in a bar. I knew the moment it happened.

Wearing overalls I sat in the basement of a church in a community clinic awaiting the results of the official test. A neighbor asked, ‘What are you here for?’ The standard question when encountering another in some institution.

‘Pregnancy test.’

‘Who is it? Some guy with no job?’ It was. No possibility.

I listened to a public employee demonstrate how to rid our premises of insects by spraying a lethal solution around the perimeter of of the house.

Positive? Yes.

I left with a piece of paper that had the contact information for a doctor to perform the surgery.

My partner had said he would support me in a pregnancy even if the child did not belong to him. I considered this. Our friend said she did not think it fair to ask him. I made the appointment at the clinic.

Somehow I found a book called, ‘End of Childhood’ discussing various scenarios of both women who had kept their child and ones who had not. I took it with me to the clinic where I sat in a waiting room with expectant mothers who were there for their routine checkups. My purpose was very different. Tears overflowed down my face as I tried to reconcile my intellectual decision with the surprising and strong sense of protection toward this unborn presence that was a part of me.

The kind of procedure I had was a time honored Japanese technique involving seaweed. When the moment approached the doctor arrived and introduced a young female medical student who was being trained. After the fetus was discharged he showed it to her saying, ‘This is a six week old male’. Then he threw it in a trash receptacle for medical waste.

I was left alone to recover in the cubicle. This time the tears emerging from the sadness at the center of my being rolled down the side of my face. I felt an existential loss.

For years I rarely passed the clinic. Then one week I was charged with transporting a Russian group from the airport. We drove past the building. Part of their itinerary was to visit Planned Parenthood, I had just read an article in the Village Voice about abortion conditions in Russia. I could not turn away. The universe had conspired.

It was years before I spoke of this event. On a road trip to Houston with a friend the story unfolded. It was the end of my childbearing years and I had a different view these twenty years later.

 

 

 

 

 

There are Trade-offs

By Dakota Sands I am a boomer in my late ’60s a feminist before there was ever a movement in the ’60s. When I graduated high school I openly announced to my father I wasn’t going to have children. He told me I was a suffragette and offered an explanation. He recognized my independence. This… Continue Reading

It’s Not Just About You

By Melissa Myer As many of you know, I opted out of the parenthood track. The politically-correct word for this is “childfree”. I have mixed feelings about this word, but it’s more accurate than “childless”, which suggests that something in my life is missing, lost. Me? I prefer “childless-by-choice”, “unchilded” or “non-parent”, if I have… Continue Reading

Free at Last

By Grace McEvoy Nineteen sixty-one, the year of my birth, is considered by some to be the last year of the baby boom. That puts me in the generation that grew up with many cousins and siblings but in my case, not one niece or nephew. Socially, things changed quickly as I came of age… Continue Reading

Gambling with Life

By Carol A. Provence Bringing children into the world is a speculative venture.  It has all the elements of a gamble, something resembling Russian roulette in its potential for disaster.  Yes, seems we no longer worry as much about the hazards of dying in childbirth, medical advances have moved along there, but don’t kid yourself… Continue Reading

Failure to Proliferate

By Norman Witzler The sixties were nearly over. JFK’s goal of putting a man on the moon had just been accomplished that month, July 1969. I was there riding the very crest of the baby boom as a horny spectator. My 14 year old body was in full adolescent mutiny with fuzzy lips, pimply forehead,… Continue Reading

It’s a Boy! And I’m 44

By Elise Krentzel When I was 12 years old, I went to Woodstock, yeah the concert, with my little brother and parents. We were only there for 1 day yet that changed the landscape of my perceptions. Although my mother wasn’t an active women’s libber in the sense of marching on Washington, she did burn… Continue Reading

Why I Did Not Have Kids

by Spider Johnson Like most men, I went into wedlock without the hint of a thought about having kids and remained oblivious to it for several years thereafter.  Then the kid cavalcade began among our friends and while the wonderful strangeness of their babies’ first steps, getting weaned, first words, etc., etc., was a curiously… Continue Reading