Baby Orchid has been ex utero for nine months, which is a milestone in my book.
Nine months ago I was enjoying newborn snuggles and the sunrise making the bricks outside my window a glorious colour and the painkillers post c section.
I’ve lost most of the baby weight, mental and physical. It was a difficult pregnancy for myriad reasons. It was worth it.
It is amazing. What’s also amazing is that since Baby Orchid made his entrance into the world abortion has become a normal part of antenatal health care.
Knowing that women who face what we might have faced had the worst happened now have options makes me happy. Every single day.
Our family is complete.
I got to catch up with friends over the weekend, one of whom I hadn’t seen in a very long time. We met in Roberta’s, a new place for me in a part of town I haven’t been in for ages. I happened to pass the Project Arts Centre. It was amazing to think that just over a year ago the repeal mural was painted over. I still pinch myself a bit at the surrealness of it all. Roberta’s was lovely, good food and a great atmosphere. We weren’t rushed at all and had loads of time to catch up. I’ll definitely be back.
It’s been a whole year since we repealed the eighth. This week last year, I was very, very worried. And nervous. And hopeful. And anxious. I was uplifted by my journey home from work the day before the vote, being handed a leaflet by canvassers who lifted my spirits. A leaflet I stuck up on the door before we rushed off to school and which is now in a box, along with a copy of the Irish Times from the Monday after the referendum and our repeal sweatshirts and badges.
I don’t think I’ve fully grasped what the campaign and vote and result really meant to me until quite recently. I needed a break from all things repeal, so while I followed the passage of the legislation and the implementation of services very closely, I listened to little analysis and read even less about what was going on. Some distance was necessary.
I’ve slowly started listening to some podcasts from around this time last year, featuring those I cheered and those I loathed. It’s been somewhat cathartic and frustrating. The same arguments come up, the same lies are repeated and the same frank and brutal truths cut through the nonsense.
Something I’ve watched many times is this short video. It was hard to watch, but covered so many of the emotions I felt. I don’t think I will ever forget 10.01pm on 25th May 2018, when I couldn’t believe that exit poll, until I did and it was all real.
I took this photo a year ago. I clearly quite like it, because I’ve posted it before.
It was a time that will always be a weird mix of fuzziness and absolute clarity. I was pregnant, I had complications, I was emotional, I was tired, I was restless, I was nervous. I didn’t know how the vote was going to go and I had passed by some pretty obnoxious posters and people on a near daily basis.
I’ve only just started processing the past year properly. I’ve been listening to some podcasts about the campaign and the result and it feels like the campaign only happened a short time ago, but also like I’m hearing analysis of another time and place entirely.
I’m still elated about the result and I’m still really angry that we had to go through this at all. I’m angry that the legislation isn’t perfect but elated that people are getting the healthcare they need. I’m angry that a local election candidate who left his political party because the absolutely minimal legislation in 2013 was too extreme for him sidles past our repeal bumper stickers to look for our vote in a constituency which voted yes by a landslide.
I feel guilty that I didn’t do more and wonder if I was too lazy, and then I wonder if I needed to do more given the result. Then I feel guilty for trying to absolve myself of my guilty feelings. I’m not sure if feeling this guilt is good or bad at this point.
I look at my children and that makes me happiest of all. All the marches and the chats and the donations and the support and the GIFs and the funny moments and the sad moments and the whole of the 25th of May 2018 when I barely functioned because of the knots in my stomach and the all over shaking when I thought about what might happen. I don’t want to say it was all worth it, but it happened and I can look back on it all in a slightly less garbled way than I would have even a few months ago.
I’m glad I have these memories; they’re part of me now. I’m equally glad that this morning when I moved my box of repeal stuff aside to get at something else in the attic I was able to tell myself that the box is a relic of another time already.
This is a photo I took on the 1st of May 2018. The referendum was on the 25th of May and by the 26th of May we knew we had repealed the eighth. By the 1st of January the legislation to give effect to the proposed abortion service was in place.
I know the legislation isn’t perfect and I voted for repeal in the hope that further changes to the current law will happen. I know services aren’t as accessible as I’d like and that some people will travel.
My fear is that we’ll continue to rely on so-called hard cases to push for further reform. Every case is a hard case. No one wants a medical procedure if they can avoid it. I’ll continue to grill any political representative who comes to our door on their stance on reproductive rights.
Is this good enough? I don’t know. I think we’ll have to keep working and stay vigilant. I’m learning more and more that we can’t be complacent about anything to do with reproductive health care.
Another happy Christmas with friends and family.
Deciding to repeat last year’s New Year’s Eve plans and making it a tradition for our family.
A new hairdryer and hair straightener as part of my Christmas present. I didn’t realise how much I missed my GHD.
Taking down the decorations and getting housey jobs done.
Remembering that this was the year we repealed the eighth and completed our family.
I’d kind of missed the fact that it’s the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 election in Ireland, for which the franchise was substantially expanded and women could vote for the first time. I like the fact that we still vote using paper and pencils and that then as now people could spoil their ballots if they so wished.
Having no other plans this evening I’m going to watch some of the “election coverage” on television. My daughter is the same age her great grandfather was in 1918. I hope she’ll remember going to vote with us to repeal the eighth amendment and in favour of marriage equality and the other visits to polling stations along the way.
This week the Bill to provide for legal abortion services was passed. A hundred years ago women got more rights, and I hope next year we can give more rights to those who need them.