the 7 things that robbed womanhood

Ella McFarland

Imagine* this………………..

You're an 9-year-old girl and you get your period early, considering for centuries the normal age was closer to 11-14. When your mom takes you to the doctor to find out why, they shrug it off and say the classic genetics, or maybe even say, "We don't know, we are seeing this more often so it’s "normal". Therefore, because it's "normal", it's fine, it's healthy, there's nothing to see here, nothing to worry about. Nothing about diet, environment, hormones, etc., ever enters the conversation.

Now you're 15, you have acne all over, heavy periods, lots of pain, the list goes on. Your doctor, or maybe even a nurse practitioner (due to a shortage of doctors and a collapsing insurance system that wasn't really that great to begin with), without doing bloodwork or additional testing, or a thyroid panel or hormonal panel, says, "I know how to fix this. Let's get you on birth control - your choice: pill, IUD, patch, shot? That will make you all better. Plus, it will double as protection when you choose to be sexually active later down the road." So you shrug and say IUD I guess?

Well, the time comes when you are sexually active, and you have been for a few years. Nothing crazy, you're a smart girl who does well in school and everything. You get to college, you're almost done, and boom, you get pregnant at 22. But wait, I was on birth control. I've been on it for 7 years, they told me it was 99% effective. I can't be the 1%, can I? I have always been the smart one, the one that plays it safe. How could this happen? My life is just beginning, this isn't in my plan. Okay, chill, you got this. Just talk to your boyfriend, he will know what to do. I mean, maybe you can do this, maybe you can have this baby? You're almost graduating, right? And you both have jobs lined up. Marriage isn't really something on the table right now, you're too young, but we could co-parent at least, right? We are semi-adults here. You go to him and he says, "Yeah, no, not in my cards right now. I don't think you're ready to be a mom yet either, to be honest." And you're like, okay, you're right, but that's not what I wanted to hear because I kind of think I could do this and I have always wanted to be a mom, even if not right now, you know. But you're scared because you have always been the smart one, the golden child, the one who has it all together. So you decide, "Screw it, I'll just get that abortion. It's not a big deal, right? It's just a heavy period, I hear." So you take these tiny pills thinking, "No big deal, I've been on birth control for years and it never bothered me THAT much." But then you're wrong, and you're in the most pain of your life, lying lifelessly on the bathroom floor, bleeding, cramping so much like you're in labor, except you're not. You're thinking to yourself, "This is NOT a period. Did my doctor lie to me, or am I just a rare case, or is my pain tolerance just shit?" But you will never know for sure because it's taboo to talk about, and who will you talk about it with anyways?

So you bury that one, move on, knowing in the back of your head that you still have time to be a mom. You're still young, don't fret. You heal, thank God. Find a therapist, do your thing. Find a really great guy, a soulmate, husband, potential father - the whole package. You get married at 32, all good. You still have a few years to become the momma you always wanted to be. Finally, say goodbye to that birth control you have been on since 15, and hello to motherhood. You guys try for a few years, you're 34 nearing 35, and your doctor says, "Hi, I know you have been avoiding IVF, but it’s time. It’s your ONLY option." Again, they still can't tell you why, or answer the questions you have, just that this is the only solution they've got. And yes, it's going to be expensive, and yes, it's going to hurt, and yes, it's going to make you feel crazy with all the hormones you're injecting, but it will work, don't you worry. Well, three rounds later and $90K later, you've got it, you've got your baby in route.

So you're having a baby and you talk to your doctor about your birth plan. They assure you not to worry, claiming that the hospital system in the US provides the best care in the world. However, they neglect to mention that we have the highest C-section rate and the highest maternal mortality rate of all Western countries. This is largely because we don't utilize midwives and we don't understand the philosophy of natural birth. Instead, we try to fit every diverse mother’s experience of birth into a prescribed birth system. This often includes inducing labor at 39 weeks with Pitocin, for fear of having a large baby. Then, when the Pitocin causes pain (shocking…… because you're not going into labor naturally at your own pace, as Mother Nature intended), the pain is so bad that you're given an epidural. Now, you're not progressing, so they increase the Pitocin. The baby starts to feel the pressure and the heart rate begins to jump. So, the doctor calls for an emergency C-section. The baby is delivered in a rush and whisked away, robbing you of that precious skin-to-skin time you were so looking forward to. But the doctor says, "Thank God you were here at the hospital under my care so we could save you and your baby's life." But in the back of your head, you will always wonder, "What if?" What if I wasn't pressured to be induced at 39 weeks? What if I wasn't given so much Pitocin? What if I had given birth under the care of midwives with generational knowledge that have seen physiological birth in every way imaginable? Would I still have ended up here? With birth trauma, a cut-up stomach, and a hospital bill large enough to be a down payment? Oh and did I mention that "large" baby they were worried about only ended up being 7 lb 3 oz.

Your six-week postpartum appointment comes around, and your doctor checks your blood pressure and heart rate. They tell you it has never returned to where it was pre-pregnancy and most likely, if it continues, you'll be at great risk of death if you were to get pregnant again. Heartbroken hearing this, you ask what your options are. Your doctor suggests getting your tubes tied. Your stomach sinks and you plead, "Don't you have anything else we could do? Any other suggestions? My body has been through enough! C-section, IVF, abortion, and I haven't even had a real normal cycle since I was 15. I just want to be normal, feel normal for once. Let my body be." But no, this is the most guaranteed option for your safety, so you comply, knowing how tragic it would be to leave your new baby daughter motherless.

Well, a few years later you're now 41, and the past few years have been the most rewarding, joyful years with your daughter by your side. And you start to hit menopause - this can't be right? I am just barely over 40. Isn't this something for the next decade? Well, for some reason, you begin early menopause and the era of cycles has come to an end even though you barely even go to experience them.

afterward -

*Now there’s not much to really imagine because, for many of us, we are this woman or at least part of her story. Much of this is considered normal healthcare in this country, business as usual. But just because something is “normal” doesn’t mean it’s natural or how we are design to be and experience life as women.

This is the robbed women's experience in America that we don't talk about. I don't hear it from the liberal feminists, and I don't hear it from many conservative pro-family Republicans. Instead, we focus on whether a woman can make more money, climb the ladder, get this BS degree, or attain a corporate position. And when the time does come for kids, I very rarely see people support or educate women in making decisions that are best for birth and baby that come from a biological truthful place. Instead I see people looking at women and their bodies as $$ signs....Don't get me wrong, as a solo mom, I love the fact that I'm educated, can vote, make money, get a house, start a business. I have a mind, and I am capable of all those things. But above all of that, I am a woman, and then I am a mother, and I have been robbed. Robbed by generations of lies. Thankfully, I haven't had to experience all of what I laid out, but I am sure there are women who have. My heart goes out to them.

But what makes us women at our very core is our ability to grow and sustain life. This is the one thing men can't do. Every single human that ever existed was grown in a woman’s body. Everything unique about our body is related to this. Our period is a fundamental part of a woman's experience for most of her life and informs her mood, her interests, her appetite, her sex drive, her preferences in a partner, the list goes on... Many of us never even get to experience it in fullness. It has been suppressed for decades, generations…... And as a byproduct, we have forced ourselves to be on the 24-hour hormonal cycle of men instead of the 30-day hormonal cycle of women and then we build whole lives around this artificial hormonal cycle we have been entrapped in, robbing us of what makes us uniquely women. Til one day we get to the end of our life and realize we never got to experience our life in our full feminine richness.