Monday, August 22, 2011
As a young girl folks don't know this, but I moved out Early, and also fell in love early. Finding Love was easy enough in the Seventies, but finding Birth Control was not as easy. And I was not the kind of girl to talk about sex or birth control. I was shy, nerdy and a little geeky. But I also was the kind of girl to have strange goals. I was very much in love the Summer of 1976 and it was my First Love. We decided that we wanted to Celebrate Independence Day in a momentous way. So yes, I lost my Virginity on Our Country's 200th Birthday, I guess you could say that makes me rather Patriotic....And to add to my patriotic Legacy, 14 years later I actually got pregnant on Independence Day......Planned Parenthood is a dear part of my Reproductive History, and truth be told I would not have my son without them.
Planned Parenthood entered the scene while I was in High school. It was the first place where we could go to get Birth Control and The Pill. This was the Era where Abortion became Legal, but when also backroom abortions were still happening. So the Fear of getting pregnant was very real for young girls and women. For girls and women Sex and Birth Control and Abortion and Pregnancy were still not topics easily discussed or shared. The person who really shared and taught me was my 79 year old Aunt Elizabeth. She was Widowed and that 16th summer I got my Drivers License I would drive her to meet her "lover", and it opened up many conversations to Life Lessons I sorely needed. There are not many people that show up to their Planned Parenthood appointment with the Great Aunt asking questions about the Newest Birth Control. ( She wanted to see "The Diaphragm" and once she saw it, and held it in her hand " Well, isn't that Ingenious !" in her soft West Virginia way. )
So off I went to Planned Parenthood to learn about Birth Control and also sex and also my Period. It was finally a place where I could ask questions and learn what I needed to know. My last two years of High School I went to an All Boys School, where I quickly realized that I didn't want sex yet and that I knew nothing about my body. And for someone who is a Science geek that was a heavy realization. I also realized that I wanted to Fall in Love, but that I didn't want Sex until I fell in Love. ( So much for my mother's theory that I was "sex crazed" and that was WHY I wanted to go to the Boy's School. Truth be told I wanted to go to the Boys School because they had excellent Science and Math courses that I craved. I went on a scholarship and graduated early. And to be honest at that School I learned that Boys could be my friends, and I learned that I suck at Dating.)
But for me I also learned that there were things about me that I needed to know. By the time I was almost 20 I learned thank to Planned Parenthood that I did indeed have Endometriosis. This diagnosis would change everything, it would change how I felt about Sex and my body. I thought there was Something Wrong with me, that I was not enjoying my young body or Sex. But Planned Parenthood helped me understand that all of the Pain and the Bleeding were not in my "head" and that I was not "defective". They helped me get medicine for the Pain and they would rehydrate me when I was dehydrated from the bleeding. And they even had advice about the Sexual issues that plague such a disease. And they also early on explained to me that Endometriosis must be taken seriously as it does effect the ability to have Babies and stay Pregnant.
And so over the years while in Nursing School and as a young nurse with limited income Planned Parenthood did help me cope with this Disease. And that also meant they helped me cope with 4 miscarriages before I ever was to get pregnant and have my son. Most people think of Planned Parenthood and they think of Abortion Aid, but they don't realize that Planned Parenthood helps Millions of Young Women take care of their bodies and cope with so many other reproductive issues. For me they helped me find Hope while I coped with a disease that was indeed posing reproductive challenges. And by the time I was 29 Living in Seattle, they helped me find Doctors working with Endometriosis and Fertility Challenges and with High Risk Pregnancies. And all of those years Planned Parenthood helped me with the excessive Bleeding, the dangerous Hematocrits, the Dehydration, the Infections, and yes, the pain and loss of miscarriages.
And so by the time I was 30 and living in Seattle I still very much wanted a child. I was taking care working ER and also taking care of AIDS patients, and working at one of the first AIDS Hospices in the Country. And because I was taking care of so many that were young and dying and many that were my friends, I wanted more than ever to bring some Life into this world. And so finally in my 30th year, after coping with severe Endometriosis for over 13 yrs I finally got Pregnant and was able to have a baby. It was a complicated pregnancy and a very dangerous delivery, but my son and I both survived and I was so thankful to finally have a Baby Boy. And 5 years later I would have to have a Hysterectomy due to the damage of the Endometriosis, so truly the Clock was ticking.....
And this summer while so many disparaging horrific falsehoods have been spread about this fine Medical Organization, few have remembered the Truth about the Medical Care they provide to so many. Less than 3% of their services are actually spent on Abortions. And they do provide Birth Control, but they also provide reproductive care, and that includes pregnancy care and prenatal care and even postnatal care and referrals to WIC. And they are providing care to young mothers and even those that want to be mothers.
And so this is my story, just one of millions, and why I am grateful to Planned Parenthood. They were there for me, and I try to be there for them. Through the years as a young Nursing Student and as a young Nurse I have tried to always donate Time, Supplies, and funds if I have them. There is no end to my gratitude.... I have a Son ...because of the Work they do.