I meant to write about how my computer went crazy and then I did after being completely offline for two days. I meant to write about perfect little quiet spaces to escape the BlogHer mania while you are in Chicago. I meant to go on too much about something Star Wars-related or why in the world I didn't know Elton John and Billy Joel were playing just three miles west of me at Wrigley Field tonight. There was a list of a million little things I intended to put up on this screen.
And then my heart got all clenched up.
Perhaps it started weeks ago when I started watching "16 and Pregnant" on MTV. I couldn't help myself. I am compelled for some reason by teen pregnancy, by the girls and choices and stories attached to the young bodies we so easily judge, by where we are in this country with Bristol Palin and Jamie-Lynn Spears somehow (how again?) standing for so many young women standing in bathrooms and staring at their own pregnancy tests.
I watched week after week, drawn in by the profiled couples and their vulnerability, desperation, immaturity, hope and fear. Every episode, my heart broke a little.
Of course, all women have this choice to carry on or terminate a pregnancy, no matter our age or environment or family situation or socioeconomic status or prospects for continuing our education or getting a job that will support all of our own and our babies' needs. I believe wholeheartedly in that choice.
And still, I also know how much it takes to be pregnant, all counted in energy, attention, love, money, self-care. I can only imagine how high school and ended college dreams and a lack of parental support factors into that time and experience. How in the world do these girls make it through? I wondered that every time I watched them try to fit into a prom dress or study with a colicky baby screaming on their laps.
They just do it because they feel they have to, I thought in response to myself. They just do.
It could be that my heart started clenching up last night when I had dinner with an old friend over sangria and conversation much deeper than either of us intended. We talked about having babies at this age -- both of us are 37 -- and how that might happen.
Our heart-to-heart spilled over as we shared experiences of our own and of our other women friends, from fertility questions to infertility aching, abortion to adoption, choosing to parent with a partner to opting to go it alone. All of it came back to a teary, almost-whispered understanding of what it is to feel out of control, not just of whether to have a child or not, but of your body.
My friend's experiences and mine are not the same. Still, we had this tie between us -- we'd both been there, feeling the choice to mother or not had at some point slipped from our grasp.
It was powerful, hard and sweetly connecting to put all of that on the table, to share how two feminist, pro-choice, activist women had felt the pain of not feeling in control of our bodies.
Perhaps the clenching goes even further back, to the week before my marriage crash-landed, when I was obliviously and hopefully mapping out my ovulation, making sure our plans to try to conceive the next week were on track. Of course, that pregnancy never happened and there was great relief and grief followed.
There were also many months where I tried tried tried to get OK with the idea I may never have more children, holding fast to the deep understanding that Lil E is far more than enough to fill my life.The question still whispered, Would I ever have another chance? Would divorce make the choice for me or would I be able to choose if I had another child?
Maybe the heart clenching has simply crept in during small moments in passing on my maternity clothes, in the ovary flip of holding delicate handmade baby shoes, in watching a friend's baby clench his face in the most adorable scream, in fostering the fantasy that I can certainly slip a baby into a sling and work and live and thrive as a single mama to two children.
It's not that I am ready now -- no matter what you've read here that may lead you to believe that. I am definitely not ready to have another child right now. But what I do want is a stronger feeling that when I am, it will be possible, it will be a choice, it will be in my control.
It could also be that the tightest clenching came tonight during the season finale of "16 and Pregnant", when a high school junior and her boyfriend chose to give their daughter up for adoption. They did it with a sageness I've not yet seen on the show and despite their parents' awful and manipulative pressure to somehow raise the child in two highly dysfunctional, uproarious homes.
The high schoolers chose a married couple to raise their daughter, and there were the very real moments of hesitation, many reminders of why they made this choice and lots of tears. What gripped me was the boy, holding on to his girlfriend so she did not have to see the baby being pulled from her body, telling her over and over how he loved her, how they loved the baby, how they were all strong enough to let her have a happy life. More tears accompanied an awkward hand-off to the adoptive parents and then the parting words from this girl, who had only given birth and given away her baby days before as she spoke directly to the camera.
I hope one day to get to know her. I am at peace with my decision.
I watched, my palm subconsciously pressed to my chest, the tears falling on to my fingers. I wondered once again how this girl did this, how she made it through. Before the answer came to me, a voice over from the birth mother answered.
I just did what was in my heart.
In all its complexity and simplicity, there it was. In all of its heartbreak and heart healing, she just followed the answer she found there.
My own heart is still all tangled up. And this wisdom certainly doesn't answer the million questions about if and when and how I might ever have another baby.
But what I love, what I am going to cling to, what did help my own heart unclench just enough was the thought that followed, the feeling that filled me and made all the other things I was going to write about quickly slip away.
I may not have complete control over my body. But I can seek out peace with all that has come before and what might happen with my fertility in the future.
Peace, peace. That might be the most critical and most difficult, most painful and most empowering thing to choose. Even as -- especially as -- a woman, a mother so adamantly pro-choice.