I said yes I will Yes

I don’t write about one big part of my life on my blog, but I will today. It is one week before we go to the polls to vote on whether we repeal the eighth amendment and replace it with the thirty-sixth amendment.

I have two children and I am nearly 21 weeks pregnant. These are all planned, chosen pregnancies. My first pregnancy was when I was 30 years of age. I had little or no idea how the eighth amendment affected maternity care. I was able to choose private maternity care with a consultant who provided excellent care and eventually delivered my daughter by c section at 39 weeks gestation. I had no idea back in 2012 that if I hadn’t agreed to that procedure, court proceedings would have been almost inevitable.

The absolute and complete game changer for me was the death of Savita in October 2012. It was the first time I ever thought about marching for something. Me, my husband and our baby (in a sling worn by my husband) marched in Dublin in the rain until it got dark when we reached Merrion Square. I felt deeply, deeply ashamed that day of my former ‘prolife’ views, formed almost entirely from the overtly religious nature of schooling in Ireland and an unspoken but present sense that abortion is always, always wrong.

The Oireachtas held hearings on the introduction of new legislation to deal with the X case and cases like Savita in January 2013. I was newly pregnant and still on maternity leave with a baby as I watched non medical experts explain, twisting and turning their words as they did so, why the eighth amendment was a good thing. I was overjoyed to see the doctor who delivered my baby speak robustly about how women and children are at risk in Ireland because of the status quo.

I returned to work and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act debate was in full swing. People who now hold this legislation up as a reason not to repeal the eighth amendment seem to have forgotten that we saw them protest against it, saw their posters full of lies and heard their myths during the wearying ‘balanced’ debates on television and radio. Being pregnant while a whirlwind of debate about the contents of your uterus which omits you or thinks you’re untrustworthy isn’t pleasant.

My wonderful prochoice consultant delivered our second child by c section later that summer. This time I knew how the eighth amendment affected my care, but I also knew that we had to change this. That’s when me and my husband started really thinking about getting involved instead of letting someone else do it.

We have brought our children on marches in the rain and the sunshine. We have donated money, and donated again, and then donated some more. We’ve had uncomfortable chats with friends and family, sometimes leaving things and then coming back to them. We’ve worn the badges and the t shirts and the sweatshirts. We donated again just in case. We feel guilty for not canvassing.

In January this year we found out I was pregnant again. I’m 36 now, and officially a geriatric mother. We knew we wanted prenatal testing and our wonderful doctor advised it. We had the harmony test, the test that’s waved around as a reason to deny all women control over their bodies. We had the money to pay for it and it was a short train journey to the hospital to have it.

Less than a week later, when I was nearly 14 weeks pregnant, a call from my consultant told me there was a high risk for a trisomy. The test is not conclusive. You don’t get a definitive answer. My husband, who loves numbers almost as much as he loves me and our children, crunched the numbers. We decided we wanted definitive answers and agreed to the suggested course of action, which was amniocentesis.

We wore our badges and tshirts from Together for Yes to the appointment. We saw the foetus during a scan, a scan which was more painful than the amniocentesis itself. We watched amniotic fluid being taken from my uterus. My doctor and the nurse in attendance didn’t need to tell us what our ‘options’ were if the news wasn’t good. Days went by as we waited for the results and I spent most of them in bed, rereading comforting books from my childhood. A call from my doctor confirmed the initial results were clear but there were other test results to come. Another week later and we got confirmation that everything was fine.

Did the eighth amendment ‘save’ this foetus? Did I feel supported by it? Did my husband feel I was getting some of the best medical care in the world? No. No. No. We hadn’t fully decided what we would do if the news wasn’t good, but we knew that the ‘options’ are. In Ireland, you must stay pregnant; there is no other option.

I’ve come to loath the phrase ‘journey’ when it comes to the eighth amendment, but we have been on several of them over the past few years. I look back on 30 year old me, and 31 year old me, with a serious amount of bafflement. How was I so ill informed and so ignorant? How had I ever thought this crazy amendment, inserted at a time of fire and brimestone over creeping reproductive rights elsewhere, was a good thing?

It is no surprise that me and my husband and our wider families are saying Yes to repeal next Friday. We hope all our friends vote Yes too. I think many people are compassionate, but sometimes that compassion needs to be explored. I never thought I was a cruel person, but supporting the eighth amendment is a very cruel thing to do.

My Yes is most especially for my daughter. My wonderful, funny, clever, insightful daughter, who’s been marching since before she could walk. I hope that Ireland shows its compassionate side for her generation, and the ones after that. Please vote Yes for her, and her classmates, friends, cousins and every other girl and woman in Ireland next Friday.

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I said yes I will Yes

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Two new dresses which were badly needed.

Our lilac and pear tree sprouting back to life.

Getting back to a more normal routine after a few weeks where some days I crawled under the duvet and stayed there all day.

Clearing out the clothes recycling box which has been making our spare room look messy for far too long.

Longer, brighter evenings which make me feel much more productive.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Seven Years. No Itch

We have two wedding anniversaries. We like having two wedding anniversaries. It’s good to have twice as many things to celebrate.

This year marked seven years of wedded bliss. And it has been blissful, most of the time. We can’t escape the ups and downs any life throws at you, but there’s far more good than bad to look back on.

This time seven years ago we woke up in our own house, and ate sausage sandwiches while listening to the morning radio shows and talking about going on honeymoon in a couple of day’s time. This day hasn’t started very differently – even the weather is similar. We’ve a night away to look forward to and a lifetime of adventures to enjoy.

I love being married.

Seven Years. No Itch

It Is Inside You

The new season of The Handmaid’s Tale arrived on our screens last week and we watched episodes one and two in quick succession. It’s really difficult, if not impossible to think about the road to the 25th May while watching. It’s hard to escape the referendum anyway, with every pole holding multiple posters and endless coverage in the media.

The show is also making me reflect on what I used to think and how and why that changed. It’s hard to look back on a version of yourself you don’t like. It’s hard to figure out which bits are things you had no control over and which you should be held to account for. Growing up in Ireland generally involved some version of christianity being rubbed into your psyche from before you even knew what it was.

I don’t use the phrase ‘lost’ about whatever faith I used to have, because I don’t think it’s a question of losing anything but rather finding everything. I remember the broadcast of States of Fear, and the tidal wave of abuse cases and the gradual dawning that when the rock was lifted there was an immeasurable amount of horror underneath.

When Offred said Gilead is inside her, I knew exactly what she meant. I wouldn’t be me without my history, but that doesn’t mean I have to celebrate it.

It Is Inside You

Growing It Ourselves

Last year I bought a packet of tomato seeds on a whim and planted some seeds in some old plastic plant pots and to my astonishment they all grew into robust plants which we then planted in what was euphemistically called a water feature, something we filled into with three tons of stone and topsoil a couple of weeks after we moved in. To increasing astonishment, the plants continued to thrive and even grew some tomatoes. The tomatoes stayed green, I looked up recipes for green tomato pickles and filled some jars with green yumminess.

This year we decided to branch out a little and try a few more seeds. We’ve reused all the pots from last years endeavours and filled more that we found hiding in our shed and under various shrubs in our garden. Along with the veggies, we’re trying some flowers this time. The only big expense has been a new set of metal shelves for our kitchen to keep everything tidy and easily accessible for watering and monitoring purposes.

Tomatoes, mangetout, aubergine and basil are all sprouting. We got lazy and didn’t label the flower seeds but they’re sprouting too. We’re getting hopeful that we might enjoy one full plate of veggies grown by our fair hands, which we could enjoy while admiring our home grown flowers.

Starting a veggie patch was one of our plans for the garden when we bought the house. I’m really glad we’ve decided to do something about it this year, and we’ve already learned a few things from the process. Next year we’ll definitely plan and research a bit more during the cold months and prepare a bit earlier. But this process is definitely better late than never.

Growing It Ourselves