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 her bra in protest. She was more of a creative type who worked from home in various capacities rather than a die-hard Betty Friedan or Ms. Glorian Steinam. She encouraged me to follow my passions and went with the proverbial flow. Her liberation was sexual. And that was passed down to me.
By the time I was 16 I was discovering the joys of promiscuity. It was 1973 and swingers were in full swing. Openly provocative homosexuals and lesbians pranced across our high school gym daring us not to be shocked. I wasn’t.
Heck, I decided to become a rock n’roll journalist. Every Saturday night I’d hitchhike my way out of cookie cutter Long Island back to Manhattan to be in the company of Mott the Hoople or Genesis at the infamous Max’s Kansas City. All the bands hung there after the show at the Palladium on 14th Street.
Never ever did I think about marriage. My parent’s divorced in ’71. Mom brought home a new man, what seemed like, every month. I had no trust in men nor a desire to make a commitment or tie the knot. How old fashioned! How quaint and mediocre I thought. I’d rather just be the liberated girl who a) chose her men, b) had more than one lover at a time (although back in those days they were called boyfriends), c) experimented with women when I felt like it just because there were less overt gay women than men and I wanted to make a statement: Women Rock!
My idols were George Sand and Chopin. John and Yoko. You know, the sort of iconic couples who were avant-garde yet equal in intelligence, bravado and careers. I adored the concept of living apart together. Nothing fascinated me more than “alternative” relationships with men. So I experimented. When I asked some of my schoolmates what their dream was after graduation, I almost puked when a few of the girls mimed the national anthem: a white picket fence, two kids, a car and to stay at home.
In my almost 17 year old mind what I dreamt of as the ideal relationship(s) was a deep connection with an international artistic type of man who I saw twice a week. He would be worldly and wise. He’d take me to fine restaurants, shows off-Broadway, we’d travel together and go dancing. He had his own apartment and I had mine and we didn’t exchange keys. On two other nights a week I would be enraptured with someone else who also lived alone. I would then have three nights to myself to play as I saw fit.
Age was never an issue to me. Conformity was! At 18, I dated a 42 year old man. I also deflowered a young boy of 14 in a wealthy Connecticut suburb.
I dated several men; exciting, daring and titillating.
Then it suddenly came to an abrupt halt. The AIDS epidemic hit in the early 80s. I had just returned from living many years in Japan where I hadn’t even heard about it. Watching so many close friends die turned me off to casual sex. Another turn-off was the materialism of the 80s. I was appalled by the audacious materialism engendered by men who wished to date me.
On one of the rare occasions I did date, he happened to be French. After one encounter I got pregnant. I must have been around 27 years old. I absolutely didn’t want the baby. I had no moral issue with abortion. It was my birthright to choose how I would handle my body and when I would, IF I would ever deliver a baby.
Although I might have given it a nod in polite conversation, I wasn’t thinking of raising a family. It just didn’t occur to me because it had nothing to do with my lifestyle or ambitions. I had had one abortion in Japan which actually was quite dangerous looking at it now. That first one occurred during the beginning of the second trimester so I guess it was four months into it. I was twenty and wasn’t even sure who the father was. Even if I did know I would have aborted. There was no way I was having a child when I was still a kid.
Fast forward to the south of France. I had divorced a Swiss man who I was married to for six years. We both didn’t want children together and as the union fell apart so did our publishing company. It was a case of the great swiss cheese meltdown. I took a golden handshake and off I went to recover my artistic self on the Riviera. It was there that one very lovely Frenchman whom I was having a hot affair with, yeah yeah that’s the second time I know, impregnated me.
I was 39 years old. This time I had such conflicts about whether to keep the child or not. Again not for moral or religious reasons. I was turning my empathy on myself rather than giving it away to others. My lover wanted to keep the child and for me to move in with him. I didn’t want to live with him or anyone for that matter. I felt torn between the emotional responsibility of raising a child as a single mom and the weightiness of the financial burden in so doing. Although in retrospect I was absolutely capable of raising a child from a financial point of view, I wasn’t ready for that emotionally
I prayed to the child fetus during the abortion procedure. I asked forgiveness and shed tears over the termination. As I was praying I had a signal from this being who said that he, yes he, would be one of my guardian angels for the rest of my life and would guide me, if only I would listen.
By the time I got married again, (this would make it my third, so not quite Liz Taylor but almost 🙂 ;-)) I was 41. He was 30. When we met he said I was the “love of his life”. I knew he was the “father of my child”. So I pushed to get pregnant before my window of opportunity closed forever. We went to an IVF psychologist. She said in no uncertain terms that if we didn’t take action immediately I would never get pregnant. We began that journey of injections, and hopes dashed while trying not to try so hard.
I was beginning to see signs of peri menopause at 44. That’s when I began testing to see if I was an IVF candidate. Because of the irregularity of my period, my FSH levels were too low. I was devastated. I felt my life would collapse. I gave up on the idea of ever having a child and then a miracle happened. I had my period. With the help of two fabulous IVF (in vitro fertilization) doctors I got pregnant two months later. I gave birth to a healthy boy in November of 2001. I had a natural vaginal birth. I had a space oddity child.
I lived a wild life, experienced many transformations – careers, foreign countries, traumatic events in my family of birth… so I was ready to raise a boy into the type of man I had never experienced in my father or brother. Come to think of it in my ex-husbands either. The type of man who would be caring, smart, funny, empathetic and loving to women.
I attribute part of the success of my pregnancy to my dear deceased friend Nick Leslie, a South African storyteller and stand up comic. He wrote this song which I sang to the doctors and staff at the moment of insemination. It goes like this. Note: sing it with an Al Jolsen type of swing.
I wanna go back
I wanna go back
to the place where fears don’t loom.
In prenatal contemplation
in the miracle of creation
in the gently rocking waters of the womb.
Doctor Freud he left a void
when he tried to sex me free
in prenatal contemplation
in the miracle of creation
in the gently rocking waters of the woooomb.
Oh Mamie, Oh Mamie
I love you so.