This was my morning routine during my first pregnancy:
I pulled myself out of sleep which got increasingly uncomfortable with each passing month.
For the first few months of my first pregnancy I had round-the-clock “morning sickness.” Women around me said that was a wonderful sign, as all those pregnancy hormones swirling around my body making me nauseous were kicking into high gear to protect the growing fetus, which was taking over EVERY CELL of my body.
Yay, I have to puke again, I thought. Lucky me… but still…. kind of hard to be a budding PR career woman when you spend most of the day with your head in the toilet.
I’d start my morning around 5:45 by taking a shower. Luckily the toilet in the bathroom in our first garden apartment was right outside the shower door because invariably, standing up in the morning in the shower stall would cause me to become nauseous.
Shampoo. Lather. Vomit into toilet. Rinse. Repeat.
I’d try to keep down some kind of breakfast and then my husband would drop me off to catch a 7:28 (I!) NJ Transit Train, Raritan Valley Line, into Midtown Manhattan.
Just in case, I’d carry a paper bag with me.
I prayed that I could find a seat, and that seat would either be next to no one or not next to someone who smelled of cologne or stale cigarettes, which would open another invitation to feel like puking.
Once, in my second pregnancy, I was not quite showing yet, but my legs were already killing me as a result of the varicose veins acquired during my first pregnancy. The morning commute was disrrupted by signal problems and all NJ Transit commuters had to transfer in Newark to take PATH into Manhattan.
Roused from my precious 40 minute snooze provided by my NJ Transit seat, I made my way to PATH to cram onto a train. No seats. I had to sit. I even asked a man if I could sit, explaining I was pregnant and felt really tired.
He scoffed and refused to get up.
So, I sat on the filthy PATH floor until a seat cleared because that’s how tired I was.
On the morning commute, I made puking an art form.
I told you about the paper bag.
But on my crosstown walk from Penn Station to my office at 33rd and Park, I’d traverse through an area known as Little Korea. On some mornings, especially the hot summer mornings, the smells of garbage left out from the night before from the restaurants – rottting fish, meat – sent me hurling right there on the pavement.
I got pregnant shortly after I took a great job with lots of room for promotion at a high tech PR firm. But, fearing what my managers would think if they knew I was pregnant and just took this job, I kept it, and my all-day morning sickness under wraps, including the time I had to sit on a PR call with a journalist and a client with my head on my desk, waste paper basin at the ready.
As my pregnancies progressed, my varicose veins got worse. In my legs, as well as inside my vagina to the point where I felt I was turning inside out, as if my insides would drop right out from under me.
Hey men, are ya still with me?
Into the city I commuted in two pregnancy summers, wearing support stockings and a special contraption I wore over my underwear to give me better support.
Towards the end of my pregnancies, I had what you’d describe as a toothache in my back that lasted all day.
But. But, I was so happy to be pregnant.
These, and my third, were planned, wanted pregnancies, with babies born into a loving relationship between me and my husband.
What struck me most during these pregnancies, when I arrived at my office each day, were people kneeling and praying outside my office.
You see, in my building on Park Ave. and 33rd Street was a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Every day, Christians would kneel and pray for the unborn, holding up the most horrible photos of aborted fetuses. Clutching their rosary beads.
Looking out from my own pregnant body, I wanted to choke them by their beads. Kick and rip up their signs.
To mothers to be out there and to the mothers of all generations past and future, being pregnant is not about baby ducks and cute dresses. It’s hard work to make a baby, but, when you WANT to have a baby, it is the most exciting and joyful time in a woman’s life.
When you don’t want to be pregnant, and you’d have to be FORCED to carry and have a baby? I would not wish that on any woman.
This Mother’s Day, think about skipping the flowers and candy and jewelry. That’s not what women, or mothers need right now.
We need you to back us up. Give to places like #PlannedParenthood #NationalOrganizationforWomen #AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion or any other cause that will keep abortion safe and legal in these United States.
We need you to use your vote and your signatures to get abortion and reproductive rights on the ballot.
Because no woman should have to carry a baby for nine months against their will.
That is not “pro-life.”
That, is slavery.
Happy Mother’s Day.