Pregnancy: a joyless & tragic state of being

July 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

Usually quite able to cope with everything life throws at me I was totally unprepared for the day they told us the small life growing inside me was so ill. We went along and watched the scan like any excited first time parents – and then our world fell apart.

In between the tears and heartache in the week or so of repetitive scans and invasive tests the final phonecall came from the lab confirming the worst ever news. My heart hurt. That’s the only simple way to describe it. Lifting myself up off the floor I sat on the sofa and we finally tried to think.

Pregnancy is all very well if it goes along normally but when it doesn’t and once the “a word” is on the cards, for us at least it all seemed to become bewildering. What we needed at that time was sound medical advice. What to expect, what the complications could be etc. Sound sensible medical guidance.

Maybe the fact that we had, in our desperation, decided to pay privately for a second opinion,  removing ourselves from the NHS system temporarily had meant they no longer cared. There was certainly very little manoevering towards a particular decision. A point I want to underline since the NHS often comes under fire for guiding women towards a decision to abort when it does anything but. Once temporarily in the private zone however we were even more marginalised.  None of this information had been fed back to my midwife who never got in touch. It never occurred to me to call her either as she had played so small a part in the whole process at that point, at 14 weeks along. The hospital didn’t provide any counselling that we were aware of or any guidance about what to do once a decision had been made. Were we supposed to call them up and ask? They had been great up until that point. Prompt and efficient, excellent scanning, were we to have examined it all at that point in such a manner. But we weren’t. Emotions were running high, desperation with and at Mother Nature or God was all we both felt.

Left in limbo we fought our emotions to come to a decision. The only people I could think of to turn to then were Marie Stopes. The phonecall was practical sounding and efficient seeming. The contrast with my emotional self at that point made me feel grounded. I wanted for someone to lead me by the hand through what needed to happen next. But the call lasted only a few minutes, an appointment was made and that, as they say, was that.

I searched on line for what to expect. The internet a ghastly place at times. Deep in among the anti abortion propaganda I was made to feel fearful and guilty though I knew it wouldn’t sway our view. Guilty of what I wondered? I didn’t choose this lot in life. And yet abortion is so casually debated that there is no distinction made between the women who enter and exit those clinics. No allowances made. Why were we not giving birth to a child who stood so little chance of living life to the full? Surely we had considered there may be a chance of life? How dare we not consider this! Such bitter angry judgment from people with little or no experience of the pain and heartache of it all much less knowledge of all the tests we had undertaken. Tests deeply personal to our situation.

As I searched further however I found a small quiet dignified pragmatic corner of the internet. A corner where simple kind gestures were in an abundance equal to the toe curlingly awful experiences of the women sharing them. I joined, posted a comment and waited.  As the responses rolled in, A gathered me up in his arms and we read them. Tears swelling and rolling down our faces. We know as a society that discussing the termination of a pregnancy or a life is not met with concern in the same way as say a miscarriage might be, where the quiet nods of sympathy are at least there. There is too much vested anger and opinion where “choice” is on the table. These hidden women, couples and their hidden sorrows. And yet for such couples whose pregnancies are longed for, there is little difference in the outcome or the sentiment. To us this pregnancy was everything we had hoped and prayed for.

I cried through the whole brutal procedure. Noone prepares you for how painful and brutal it is at 13 weeks. I understand that I am ‘lucky’. From what I gathered on line the more usual outcome is to go through a sort of birthing process. Eventually it was over and I was despatched from the clinic half an hour after the procedure with some anti-biotics. There was little sympathy on hand. I had watched as I waited in the recovery room as one young Polish woman who had been giggling with her boyfriend prior to the procedure insisted she was OK to leave and breezily pursuaded the nurse of that fact. I felt anger towards her, envy as no doubt that baby she had carried was healthy. I am not anti choice at all. These are simply the sentiments I felt at the time. A wasn’t allowed to be with me before during or after the procedure.  We had shared in every second of the life inside me, every second of the thrill and then every second of the heartache and now we were denied the chance to comfort one another or mourn together.

We had to go back to work a few days later and lie about the pregnancy. So noone would judge us.

The strain of this is often too much to bear but we determined to carry on, to buy a house, to work hard and to try again for another baby as soon as possible. So many other couples after all had experienced the same. We must carry on as normal.

When my periods didn’t return life seemed to be determined to ensure that carrying on as normal was going to be harder than we both thought. When the issue of the Marie Stopes advert put the whole abortion debate back in the spotlight, I found myself feeling tearful one minute and gradually hardened to the anti choicers the next. Three months down the line and facing urgent surgery as a result of the initial procedure I feel anger.

At the time of leaving the clinic we both felt somewhat like pariahs. The overall message we seemed to pick up was that no further contact with Marie Stopes was required. No follow up was arranged, a baffling concept considering the brutality of this procedure. A phone number was of course made available but on the two or three occasions I called to relay concern that something wasn’t right I was advised in a kindly way that this was normal. Eventually I was advised to go see my GP. There is a disconnect between the GP and the procedure so this seemed to me a somewhat laxadaisical approach to such a serious healthcare issue undertaken by them.

Initial consultations with my GP determined the same sort of reaction. It was probably normal but the GP would run blood tests to check my hormones. All the while I remember thinking surely the onus is on Marie Stopes here and surely the priority is to run a scan? My blood tests were normal. The next step was – finally – to arrange a scan. This is some three months on from the abortion.  But before we moved to that stage I presented to my GP Monday morning in serious pain. The onset of such serious pain required a bunch of pain killers just to even make it down to the doctor’s. My GP did internal tests and immediately recommended I see a consultant gynaecologist at UCH for (now) an urgent scan.

And so it was that we wound up back at UCH hospital where the pregnancy had been first monitored way back in April. For some peculiar reason I needed to be admitted through A&E . Frustrating since I had to see another doctor who conducted another internal and seemed to want to reason with me that this was, again, normal and that a scan was unlikely to reveal anything telling. I was tired of justifying my concern. Nonetheless she fixed a scan and a few hours later we saw two gynae experts who concluded that actually – there is a problem. And here I am again worrying again about the repercussions for my health and flailing around in the dark somewhat.

Apart from the utterly pointless A&E rather than gynae clinic admission, I have only minor criticisms of the NHS. My chief complaint is that we have been left to flail around hopelessly throughout this whole process by Marie Stopes. Most pressingly of all is that my health was ignored by Marie Stopes who claim to be providing for women in this regard.

Our ordeal is far from over. Laparoscopy, surgery, D&Cs are all still on the table at this point with weeks more of this to come and now an uncertain future regards my fertility. The gynae at UCH even looked at me startled to hear that I had endured the abortion under only mild sedation. Where she asked had this happened, under the NHS? No with Marie Stopes. And where are they? she enquired. Two minutes walk from here my husband responded, himself startled that they didn’t know the clinic. You should never have had that procedure under only sedation at that many weeks gestation she tutted. Confusion reigns even more now. Why was I not counselled properly this at the time? I was offered a choice as though there was little difference between sedation and general anaesthetic by the nurse at the MS clinic. I would likely feel nothing she said. Not true. To say nothing of the psychological scars.

With respect to the abortion debate itself I wanted to add this.

There seems little depth to the abortion debate other than the prothelitizing from both sides. Caught in the crossfire for so many months of this year in so many ways, I certainly feel it’s about time the debate matured. A better understanding might be this. Abortion is not going away. Every case is different. It is deeply unpleasant and risky.  It should no longer be about getting at the other side in the debate, and investing in propaganda with women as pawns in this political game on both sides. In all the hubris I feel that we, yes WE, A COUPLE, wound up lost in all of it, lacking in any medical guidance throughout – and that the outcome has been nothing if not physically painful, potentially damaging to my longterm health and devoid of any real concern for the situation we found ourselves in. People with a hard view one way want to tell you what to do. But so few of them truly understand. And how can they when it is such a deeply personal situation? Noone in our position really chooses such a tragic outcome to a pregnancy.


Whore Culture

November 29, 2009 - 2 Responses

Beyonce performs at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards

Beyonce performs at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards. Photograph: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Why Beyoncé? Why this stunning 28-year-old singer/performer/actress/businesswoman from Texas now married to one of the decade’s other biggest stars, and worth something like $87m a year to boot, and not, well, take your pick…? Because she made not one but two of the decade’s greatest singles, with Crazy in Love and Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), not to mention her hits with Destiny’s Child; and this was the decade when singles – particularly R&B singles – regained their status as pop’s favourite medium. (But her three solo albums? Pretty fabulous, too.)

Because at a time when the ubiquity of TV talent shows put the onus on those who could cut it live more than ever, she and not any superannuated rock star was arguably the greatest live performer of the past 10 years.

Because her achievements chime with bigger narratives. Who was it got to sing for President Obama and Michelle at their first dance after his inauguration, after all?

Because she is a brand, but says she isn’t, and because in this age of Twitter and the paparazzi, she might be a global phenomenon but in the course of 10 full years Mrs Jay-Z, as she might also be known, has kept her mystery. And because – just possibly – she helped introduce a new word into the Oxford English Dictionary: bootylicious.

gushes the Guardian (a male) underneath a picture of Beyonce with men at her feet

She’s dressed like a whore.  She’s the symbol of lad culture, what men want and how to be an attractive female in 2010. The Guardian cannot get enough after all.

Talent doesn’t need to dress like a cheap slapper as much as the boys want it. Women willingly oblige in order to remain attractive. No thanks, lad culture. I’ve had a gut full of living through this tawdry cheap whore fantasy shite. Colour me a prude, an old fashioned frigid freak or whatever other label suits your libertine miffiness and fuck right off.

There is zero difference between this daft bint wearing her sexuality as her persona and the ones who dress head to toe in black in the same way. I refuse to be defined by my sexual being or see this presented to me as all so ‘right on’. It’s 2010 for crying out loud not 1970.

On Polanski

September 30, 2009 - 4 Responses

Work in progress. Bit by bit I am piecing together this fascinating social reaction to what has hitherto been a feminist issue and one which men react either angrily or non plussed to. Or so I thought:

From a comment at the Telegraph

A crime is a crime, never mind the machinations of oily lawyers nor the so called artistic eminance of the perpetrator. The victim’s own contemporary deposition was of a forced sexual act on a child – pure rape in all it’s filthy evil that makes all real mens’ toes clench. I hope they lock the despicable little bastard up for ever.

What women are saying

Entertainment is the new religion with sex, violence and money the new Trinity. The directors and stars are worshiped and quickly forgiven for any infraction as long as the PR agent is a skilled as a saintly confessor. Entertainment, not religion, is the new opiate of the people and we don’t want our supply disturbed…

….I don’t agree that this exhibit will be a beacon to pedophiles. But part of the problem is the photo itself – nude or not, why is a heavily made up child art? Why do we pornify our kids and make them into objects? I saw at a local pizza joint the other night a photo of the owner’s little girl in a dance outfit. She looked like a hooker. I’m not a prude at all, either. And this little girl looked like she should be on a street corner. Kind of like Jon Benet only with more skin showing. It’s not right to sexualize kids so early.

Same brilliant woman on those endless libertines, too numerous to quote, the good old boys and a fine collection of daft cows:

…So… the compassionate and ever so wise ladies of The View have pronounced the Polanski case to be rape, but not rape-rape. Therefore it isn’t just that Polanski be made to serve the sentence he was awarded for the crime of which he was convicted.

See, since that rape apparently didn’t conform to the silver screen version of rape wherein a grown woman is forced screaming and kicking, it isn’t actually rape. A child who is drugged and forced into sex is just a Lolita who was asking for it.

Links from the US feminist website Feministing (which while linking in to the subject, dealt itself with this subject rather limply):

Kate Harding: Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child

Amanda Hess: Common Roman Polanski Defenses, Refuted

Kieran Healy: “I look forward to more detailed explanations of who the Real Victim is here, and more fine-grained elaboration of the criteria — other than “marvelous dinner guest” — for being issued a Get Out of Child Rape Free card.”

Scott Lemieux: “The fact that the victim forgives Polanski doesn’t give him a license to skip out on his punishment.”

Amanda Marcotte: “I tend to have a negative view of doggedly pursuing a criminal decades after the crime, but there are exceptions. In this case, I think that that the pressing need to send the message that fame and fortune doesn’t give you a free pass to rape is worth the resources and effort put on bringing him in.”

Sady Doyle on rape culture and liking the artistic output of someone who happens to be a rapist.

The Furies

September 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

Something I watched earlier this year and have followed with huge interest the last two years. Women in Iran.

American Digest brilliantly framed this picture and was the inspiration behind the blog title.


Out of the tsunami of images, videos, rumors and reports that wash over the web during these days of Iranian resistance, this single image of a fleeting moment arrested my attention. Clicking on it will make it larger and allow you to see the expressions of the women closing in on the ayatollah’s thugs. And in that flickering instant you will see what all injustice and repression fears from the people it oppresses, the emergence of The Furies.

Always female and dating back to the Age of Myth, the Furies were the agents of Nemesis:

The [Furies] Erinyes often stood for the rightness of things within the standard order…. Predominantly, they were understood as the persecutors of mortal men and women who broke natural laws. In particular, those who broke ties of kinship through murdering a mother (matricide), murdering a father (patricide), murdering a brother (fratricide), or other such familial killings brought special attention from the Furies.


September 30, 2009 - Leave a Response

Why should society belong to the Left.

With judicial and political equality well established in comparison to previous centuries, why are feminists taking issues all good men and women have a stake in and deciding they are feminist issues by virtue of defining them within their own political philosophy. I can grasp a few of the issues they raise but not all, and by arguing these points I might share with them, I often find myself absurdly labelled a feminazi.

This country is not and must not be divided along gender political lines. The first female Prime Minister of this country was a woman on the Right who never once voted against women on issues that related directly to them, in fact she upheld them, whilst rejecting feminist politics. Queens in our history ruled  in spite of the prevailing patriarchy and were respected and revered for it. These are good things. Things to be proud of. Not shovelled away in a corner because they are inconvenient to a left wing political agenda.

To my mind there are just as many witches out there who will shaft women for the aforementioned women’s rights. Just as many stupid women as stupid men. Just as many chauvinist women as chauvinist men. Just as many spiteful or selfish women as there are spiteful or selfish men. And as many female libertines as male.

It’s about things I personally feel, understand and read about feminism and where I can sometimes relate to the issues it contains whilst not viewing these issues as left wing or even feminist. And it’s about the wider impact on society. How things I understood and took for granted are now under constant attack, how views I might share a small portion of are distorted because of the way they are presented. Why men and women have a share in how our culture develops, how our relationships are formed. How the Polanski case more than anything reassured me that men do CARE. How the situation in Iran showed me women won’t stand by and permit any injustice not just patriarchal injustice against their own gender. How libertines, male and female, have destroyed what I always view to be the very essence of dignity, value and equality. Why all these issues should not be framed as feminist issues or turned into a devisive set of political strictures.

We are being subsumed into American styled gender politics unnecessarily.

In short it’s a very modern mess I’m working through.