When I was pregnant and at risk of dying from complications due to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, I remember asking our doctors if there was anything we could do to delay delivery of my daughter and give her more time to develop - even if it meant putting myself in more danger. Perhaps it was selfless, but I also wonder if I just needed the doctors to know that I understood the social contract around motherhood, and that wanting to be “a good mother” was more important to me than my own health and life.
Years later, when I had an abortion rather than put my life at risk again, I wrote that it was, in part, because I had an existing child that needed me. That’s true – but the other piece of it is that I needed to live, too. Not because I was a mother or wife, but because I am a person and I am not done yet.