“Why did you have me, Mummy?

girl

CW: Abortion, pregnancy

“Why did you have me, Mummy?” Well, there’s the million dollar question. I have just tried to explain the pro-choice demonstration I’m going on to my seven year old daughter. I’ve attempted, in the past, to answer her questions about procreation as simply and truthfully as possible, but I know I’ve fallen short. There are things she doesn’t understand. Her question is a good one though. If I am going to stand outside the Polish embassy and yell at the top of my voice that women have a fundamental right to choose whether to carry a child to term, then why did I, still at uni, much too young, and not the most maternal person, have her?Immediately, my thoughts turn to the time I made a different choice. She had just turned five and her little sister was three. I was pregnant, and as soon as the the second line appeared on the test, I knew what I wanted. I cried down the phone to the Marie Stopes counsellor. I went through the motions of a guilt I didn’t feel and I braced myself for grief that never came. But I knew I wanted the abortion.

I had been told my whole life that my own happiness was inconsequential and the martyrdom of motherhood is part of what it is to be a woman. The pregnant woman bent over a toilet bowl, the young mum taking the burnt toast for herself, the grandma retiring early to help with childcare, this is what we’re supposed to be. To even contemplate an abortion felt like a betrayal of that. I was suddenly a weak and selfish link in the chain that connected my daughters to generations of long suffering mothers.

Yet, at 25, a happily married, financially stable (ish), mum of two, I chose me.

Over two years later and I’ve done things I never dreamed possible. I lost the weight two kids and a contraceptive implant put on, finally acted on the political beliefs I’d held since childhood, and became healthier and happier than I have ever been. My kids have met the leader of the opposition, marched against an unjust war and an economic policy that has killed people, and gained some adoptive aunts and uncles you WISH you had.  I’ve done PTA accounts and handed out flyers for protests and put out chairs at SO MANY meetings. I like to think I’ve helped a bit, here and there.

I wouldn’t have done any of that with another baby. I’d heard my whole life that the cluster of cells in my uterus was more important than me and I still made the right call. I did that. Me. The girl who tried on drug habits like t-shirts until she got pregnant at twenty, the poster child for bad decisions. I made a choice that made things better for all of us. I’m proud of that, and I should be.

“Why did you have me, Mummy?” My little girl, all blue eyes and defiance and a body that people are going to try to control.

“Because, baby, I wanted you.” And that’s the only reason there should ever be.

 

– Rachel Krengel is an activist and part of Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists and The People’s Assembly against Austerity