Choice

 The Flat Tops Wilderness Area, Colorado

The Flat Tops Wilderness Area, Colorado

A week after the election I switched my primary care to Planned Parenthood to show my support for their practice through both my physical presence and my insurance dollars. It felt like a powerful and profoundly good idea until several hours before my appointment Monday morning when I woke up heart pounding in my chest, tears streaming down my cheeks. The last time I'd been to a Planned Parenthood was nearly 20 years ago in Denver, Colorado. 

I'd hyperventilated on the table as the nurse tried to regulate my breathing, asking me again and again to keep my eyes trained on her beautiful face. I'd bled, cramped and cried for days in my narrow bunk at the lodge in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area where I was a cabin girl. And then, of all horrible things, I'd found out that the procedure hadn't been successful and that they'd have to do it again. After the second time, instead of going back to finish hunting season, I booked a plane ticket home.

Despite the pain and grief and of that experience, it is the experience that allowed me to have the life I have today. To become a mother when I was ready to become a mother, not when I was still young and wild and had so much growing up left to do. Almost exactly a year later I got sober and met the man who would become my husband and a wonderful, loving father. Choosing my own path has not just been a part of my  life; it has created the life I have.

Before the appointment on Monday morning, I took a long, cold walk through my neighborhood with a friend who reminded me that I had choices then and that I have choices now. That I could go and then leave if I wanted to. That I didn't have to do anything I wasn't comfortable doing. And that I didn't have to do any of it alone. This reminder was exactly what I needed. I waited in the waiting room like an adult woman and had my routine exam like an adult woman, too. The doctors, nurses and administrators were kind, smiling, warm, friendly, professional and patient. I thanked them and they said all smiled and said they appreciated it, especially on a Monday morning. 

And then I allowed myself the luxury of spending the rest of the day drinking tea and reading my book in bed. Profoundly and overwhelmingly grateful that I had the ability, the grace and the choice to do what was best for me. What's best for me moving forward is doing everything I can to ensure other girls and women have choices, too.

Valley HaggardComment