Dear NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood, RH Reality Check and any and all people and entities who are pro-choice,

I am infertile. I want nothing more than to have a child. Wait. There might be one thing I want more than a child – I want the government to stay out of my uterus. Well, if I still had one I’d want them out of it.

You may be surprised to learn that most of us who can’t have children (or have lots of difficulty doing so) are NOT in favor of banning abortions so there will be more babies available to adopt. No. Simply…NO.

Most of us are HARDCORE Pro-Choice. You want to know why?

Because we are the ones who suffer all manner of weird pregnancy complications. We are the ones who have ectopic pregnancies and are forced to terminate. We are the ones who suffer repeat miscarriages. We are the ones who do IVF after IVF with embryos the doctors say look good but never get pregnant. We are the ones who are most terrified of personhood legislation because it directly impacts IVF and Assisted Reproductive Medicine in general. We are the ones who have to face the choice of late term abortions because testing shows severe genetic anomalies in our very much loved unborn fetuses. We are the ones whose bodies fail us and cause pre-term birth and put our own lives in danger.

No one is better acquainted than we are with the idea that not every embryo has what it takes to become a child and not every egg/sperm has what it takes either. And not every womb can carry to term. We are intimately acquainted with the fact that pregnancy can be dangerous to mind, body and spirit and it should therefore be a choice and not a legal obligation.

Many organizations are moving away from the term “pro-choice” in favor of “reproductive rights” claiming that every woman should have the choice of when and whether to have a child. I wholeheartedly concur. However, when your organizations talk about reproductive rights and freedom they rarely mention the flip side of the coin: infertility. We can’t control when or whether to have children. And no amount of free birth control pills or sex education is going to give us that control.

I propose that we join forces. I propose that your organizations add health insurance coverage for infertility as a cause. If we knew that someone out there was fighting for us also, perhaps we’d shed our anonymity and join your cause with even louder voices than we already use. Make us feel included and you will have 1 in 7 couples, all very educated in the reproductive process, fighting on your side. I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but I know a lot of us feel this way.

Not that we don’t already fight on your side. I’m just saying that if we felt more included in your cause we might yell more loudly.

It’s just an idea. Think about it.

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This is really a continuation of my prvious post Thoughts on Feminism.

Let me start off by giving a few facts about my mother:

She went to college at a time when women were not allowed to wear shorts on campus. She had to get special permission to attend since it was only open to females if they were locals. They didn’t want to put women in dorms – they had to live at home with family to be properly chaperoned. So my mother lived with her aunt while she was in school and the university allowed that. An overwhelming majority of women studied either Nursing or Teaching. Nothing else. I don’t think it was forbidden to study other subjects – it just wasn’t done. I’m not sure if she had to get more special permissions or not but I do know that she was the ONLY female Mathematics major in her class. Upon graduation she took a job at the same university working with computers. In the 60s. Back when they took up whole rooms. She learned to program in languages no one uses anymore. She worked until the day she had her first child. She made the choice to continue working after she got married – despite the fact that many women looked down on her for not being home and taking proper care of her man (my father was all for her working BTW).

Have I just painted the picture of a pioneering feminist woman? You would think so. I grew up hearing these stories. I never ever thought I wasn’t good at math because I was a girl. Until high school, I thought that was a myth. It seemed perfectly silly to me that girls would be bad at math simply because they were female. But I learned that many of my peers had experienced that feeling. I always went to my mother for help with my math homework. My father sucks at math. And my mother can’t spell a word to save her life so it was to Pops I went for help with spelling and English. So I was shocked when I found out that she and my father had argued about the Equal Rights Ammendment (ERA) back in the 70s. He was FOR it SHE was AGAINST it. How could my mother, the woman who worked with computers in the 60s, not believe in equal pay for equal work? Did she really think she was worth less?

Why did my mother never want to be anything more than a wife and a mother? I still don’t understand it. And, to be frank, she wasn’t particularly good at either. So why was that all she wanted? Was it simply because it elluded her? She had to go back to work when my parents divorced. I’m not saying that SAHMs don’t have any other identity than wife and mother. I think many do. But I fail to understand how a person can successfully define themselve through other people (hubby & kids). You need something of your own. And my mother never wanted that.

This is a woman who feels SO STRONGLY against feminism that when I got married and she yelled at me when she found out I didn’t intend to change my last name. Literally yelled at me (not something she ordinarily does). Her exact words: “I didn’t raise you to be a….a… Women’s Libber!” The phrase “Women’s Libber” was said with such disdain I could never do it justice when recounting this story. I’ve never fully understood that comment since I believe she DID, in fact, raise me that way by telling me the stories of her college days – even if she did recount them not in awe of what she accomplished but matter-of-factly. She calmed down after I explained my reasons for that decision. My reasons for not changing my name really have nothing to do with feminism. With the noted exception that it is because of feminism that I can make that choice at all.

There is a stark contrast between my mother and Right Guy’s mother. Right Guy’s mother never went to college. Because her family didn’t believe in educating females. Can you believe that?!?! It outrages me. The choice was taken from her. Well, I suppose she could have chosen to go later in life. But still. My mother had all these amazing opportunities but never really wanted or cared about them. And there are so many others who would have killed for them!

I guess it all boils down to personal choice and doing what is right for YOU. But, damn, sometimes it’s really hard to understand those choices when they are not the ones we would make for ourselves.

Recently a conversation started on Twitter about the meaning of feminism and how some women seem to judge SAHMs and housewives and perhaps even look down on them. It really made me think. Sometimes I’m one of those snooty people. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. I have no trouble accepting women who choose not to have children. And I applaud women who can and do stay at home with their kids. But I also fear for them and know that I can’t be one. Let me explain.

Fundamentally I believe in the right for both men and women to choose to work or to stay at home. In practice however, I have a really hard time understanding that choice in certain situations. I do frown upon the stay at home choice if you don’t have kids. Most people need to feel some purpose in life so unless you’re wealthy and have A LOT of hobbies and/or do A LOT of volunteer work I fail to see the purpose in being a housewife without the kids. I feel justified in my view on this since I’ve done the housewife bit. When I was married it wasn’t always easy to find work in Po-Dunk Army towns. I worked when I could but often there was no work. Or no full-time work. And I swear I could feel my brain cells leaving my body without the stimulation of work to focus on. I needed some sense of purpose and I wasn’t getting it. Remember, this was back in the Stone Ages of Dial Up Internet so even surfing the web was often mind-numbingly boring as you waited for images to load.

It’s this need for a sense of purpose or a source of stimulation that will likely never allow me to be a full-time SAHM for more than a few years. Me personally… I NEED something else to focus on. Something else to stimulate me. Not having a child I suppose I don’t know for sure what it would be like. Perhaps I’d find it more stimulating than taking care of other people’s kids (which I’ve also done). But I do know that I’d want to talk about things other than poopy diapers. Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying that SAHMs aren’t capable of talking about more interesting topics. I’m just saying that an overwhelming majority of them simply DON’T. It’s like they start to lose themselves a little. I know that’s how I felt staying at home when I was married. I took any temp job I could find in order to reclaim my sense of self. Even jobs that were ‘beneath’ my education. Actually some of those jobs taught me a lot and make for really interesting stories – but that’s another post. I just don’t want my WHOLE life to be my family. I want my family to be a very important and integral part of my life – my life with hobbies and outside interests. It’s a distinction I need to make. Perhaps others don’t.

For me personally, I think my ideal would be to work half time when I have small children at home. And more and more companies are offering that possibility. Which I applaud. It’s still not easy to come by a half time position but at least there are some out there. We shouldn’t let Feminism die when there are still battles left to be fought. And this choice that we fought so hard for has now become a luxury. Many wo/men can’t AFFORD to not work. I know if I’m lucky enough to get pregnant I won’t really be able to be a SAHM at first since Right Guy is still techinically in training for a few more years. Perhaps we’re not done fighting for this choice?

So that’s where I stand for me personally. And I guess that’s what it really is about – each woman (or man) making the choice that is right for him/her. And I can’t know what is right for another person. Although I do tend to think my mother was wrong. Read on… Feminism and my Crazy Momz.