Response to: Margaret Atwood says it’s “a form of slavery to force women to have children they can’t afford”

I feel like this topic has died down some in popular conversation but it’s been something very real & relevant to me for many years. 

CONTENT WARNING: abortion, birth control, prescription drug abuse, body image issues, child abuse

My body reacts badly to birth control. My mother put me on Depo Provera (the shot) after my first period at 14 and I was on it for almost 8 years, when I finally stopped taking it, I discovered that it caused me to develop insulin resistance, ovarian cysts and start losing my hair. Hormonal birth control always made me gain weight regardless of my diet or excessive habits and the ironic part is over a certain weight, the pill becomes less and less effective. I spent my childhood being forced onto a cocktail of psychiatric drugs because my mother had Munchausen by Proxy and a psych degree as well as worked as a medical Librarian. She has abused prescription and illegal drugs for the past 50 some years. When I was 17, I quit all the medication cold turkey and while I don’t remember the 3 month period that followed and I have extensive memory loss from the years I was on it, I got better off the medication. Most of my symptoms including the loss of eyesight I experienced on the medication, subsided, I got better and better as time went on. I was more functional off the meds than I ever had been on it. 

Now, as an adult, I was terrified of putting my body through that again with normal hormonal birth control. I already had massive body images issues over my weight. I had gained 100 pounds in 3 months at age 9 because of the pills without changing my diet or excessive habits. Actually I switched from gymnastics to basketball & bike riding daily because of my weight I couldn’t tumble anymore. I have a nickel allergy so essure which is all that planned parenthood in Kansas City would provide wasn’t an option. I’m also allergic to normal condoms so I had to pay $3 per condom for lambskin condoms. I have been on my own since I was 16 and as I’ve said a number of times before, found myself supporting a number of people from that age and in deep level poverty that only after age 30 was I able to begin escaping. The idea of being able to afford condoms was absurd at the time, let alone afford $500 out of pocket for abortion, yeah it’s cheaper than having kids but when you have no support system and no money, options aren’t a thing. On top of that, I have 3 children. The first one I was reckless and made choices that I discussed with my husband, we knew we were going to get pregnant. It’s not necessarily good idea to have a baby in the circumstances that we did, but I’m glad we did because it spurred me to make the choice to get clean and pursue entrepreneurship instead of throw my life away at the time after years of being in a prior abusive relationship and countless acts of sexual trauma, I was not in a good headspace. My 2nd and 3rd children however were conceived despite us using ovulation calendars, condoms and actively trying not to conceive. I love my children. I am grateful they exist and the majority of what I do is with the intention to build a better life for them. We embraced our circumstances and did the best we could with them, With my mental illnesses however, had I the option at the time to wait or get an abortion I absolutely would have waited. 

We were careful, we didn’t have the money for other options. There was no access or help in Missouri. We had no family or friends to help us. I got extremely depressed and suicidal each time I was pregnant. It was awful and I almost didn’t survive each time. On top of that, it’s true with the limited options we had at the time that now our expenses were significantly higher for much longer and it took that much more to find and afford housing, build a reliable income and dig us out of poverty. I’m very grateful that I have the support I do in my husband, my boyfriend and my chosen family and we are doing better than many ever thought we would. Still, this is a relevant point and I wanted to add my story to the conversation in the hope that it adds some context or gives someone else solidarity in these struggles. I know I’m not alone in this, even with my specific set of circumstances, women are put through a lot unfairly by the system. We always have been.

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