Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

The news about Bristol Palin's pregnancy made me think of my own teenage experience, which I've alluded to before.

I can't speak to Bristol's motives, besides wanting to make trouble, get attention, or make a statement about the benefits of abstinence-only sex education. It's possible that it's a true expression of love for her self-described "f***ing redneck" boyfriend and now husband-to-be. Or maybe she just wasn't thinking.

I know I wasn't, at least not clearly. I don't have time to tell my whole story now, though I will come back to it. But the basics are this: I was 15 when my curiosity about sex turned into experimentation with it. I took contraceptive responsibility from the very beginning. But a parent who shall remain nameless operated on what was explained to me as the "more murders occur when there's a loaded gun in the house" theory and kept finding and confiscating my diaphragms.

After the third time, I gave up, and in an act of still-inexplicable rebellion decided that I would take my chances. The results were inevitable: within a month I was pregnant. I didn't love the sire, nor did I want him involved, and having a baby was unthinkable, so an abortion was set up. It had only recently become legal in New York State.

I was beyond the point of a simple aspiration, so I had a D&C in a hospital. The doctor was a grouchy and cynical man whose wood-paneled Madison Avenue office was wreathed in smoke from his ever-present pack of Dunhills. My parents were freaked out, and so was I. The only tender moment happened as I was being wheeled in to the operating room, when a sweet-faced, red-headed nurse in surgical scrubs put her hand against my cheek briefly. I must have seemed very young to her, and I was.

After that, I was maniacal about contraception. But by the time I was ready to get pregnant, more than 20 years later, it was too late - and after many failures, some tragic and some just frustrating, I decided to end that quest.

The teenage brain is a biologically muddled thing, and mine made some very bad choices. For years, I've personally and professionally supported the capable, committed and passionate people at the determinedly nonpolitical National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. If this topic interests you, I'd encourage you to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Your posts on pregnancy, abortion, infertility are so moving, wise, persuasive, etc. Your assignment: turn them into an article, op-ed, a book, something. Get your words out there, GB!