Here's a letter I wrote to a 15 year old pregnant niece of mine over 20 years ago. In light of the current attack on Roe vs. Wade, I think this is thought provoking. I think there's a lot we all need to think about. If we don't think, we may not act. If we don't act, our hard fought rights will be eroded. Anyway, I'm sharing this letter and I still stand behind it. How wonderful that she had a choice.
5 Nov 1998
So glad to hear you received the clothes. M and I had a lot of fun picking them
out. T got a kick out of how
different maternity clothes are nowadays. You can’t imagine how UGLY maternity clothes used to be. Big, clunky collars and blocky shapes. Yuck. And they didn’t used to have maternity jeans, so I had to cut out the
stomach in mine, and sew in elastic panels.
Sounds like your pregnancy is progressing nicely. You’ll be amazed at how glorious the whole
experience is. Nothing else like it in
the world. Your Grandma is famous for
having really easy deliveries. She was
able to just pop ‘em out with little pain and with short labors (she delivered
J at home because it went so quick she didn’t have time to get to the
hospital). Maybe you’ll have
inherited that from our side of the family? Did your Mom ever talk about her
pregnancies and deliveries?
How’s school? Does
it seem weird to be going to classes pregnant?
Also “in the old days” they made girls quit high school when they got
pregnant. You couldn’t attend classes
when you started to show (or when the gym teacher found out - they used to
track our periods in gym class in order to figure out when one of us got
pregnant). I was in college,
trying to major in art, when I was pregnant. People really thought it was weird that I was still taking classes. One professor actually asked me why I was
still enrolled. It really pissed me off
- I remember answering, “What else am I supposed to do?” It just never occurred to me to live my
life any differently than I had been. People can be so mean, you know?
Here’s the advice part of the letter (warning, I’m not a
normal person - so please just humor me):
Yeah, well, life can be pretty @#*! hard, especially when
you don’t have a lot of money. It’s the
nature of “Life” to take it’s best shot from time-to-time - sometimes hitting
you square in the face. The really
special people in this world seem to be the ones who are strong enough to take
it on the chin, pick themselves up and keep on trying to do their best. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a
pro-boxing match on TV - I love boxing. I think it symbolizes a whole lot about the way reality is for working
class people. I really love that “down
but not out” stuff. And even when
someone doesn’t win, if they fight with A LOT OF HEART, they still earn the
respect and admiration of the audience. It‘s really all about the effort - not the result. I see you as having a lot of heart. I’m in awe of the things you’re doing right
now to keep yourself afloat. What an
enormous effort it must be to try to get through school this year, and to
provide a safe, healthy environment for yourself while you’re pregnant. I think you must be pretty wonderful.
And on top of all that, you’re also faced with some major
real-life decisions. I’m glad to hear
that people are giving you a lot of time and space to make the decision about
the baby. That’s important. Because (as you’ve figured out by now) once
we get pregnant, women are faced with those three scary choices: abort the fetus, allow the pregnancy to go
full term and keep the baby, or give the baby to someone else to raise. Realistically, each one of those decisions
will bring you physical and emotional pain at some definable point in
time. Each decision becomes a path your
life will take forever. Any one of
those choices will probably bring you additional emotional pain further down
the line. That’s just the way it is, but the fact that each is a hard choice
makes them all equal in some ways. Of course, each
choice will bring you moments of great happiness in the future, as well. Consequently, I don’t think any one of them
is a bad decision. They’re all good
choices to make, depending on who you are, what you want from your life, and
what you feel you can handle. Emotional
pain isn’t the end of the world. When
you have a lot of heart (which you do) and are a strong woman (which I think
you will become) - you can handle emotional pain. It can shape you for the good, or for the
bad - depending on who you are, and how you approach it.
Independent of the pregnancy, what do you want to do with your life, by the way? What were your plans for after graduation
before you found out you were pregnant?
Please write and let Uncle T and me know how you’re doing. We care about you, and we’re concerned about
your current situation. And, of
course, we wish you the absolute best.